Saturday, October 22, 2011

Guest Post: A Paleo Beer Review

I am happy to be sharing my first guest post. This one is from K. Salvation--who is very dedicated to paleo AND beer! Hope you enjoy this very informative and entertaining post.


We at WODHOPPER like CrossFit and eating clean, so that means the word "paleo" gets thrown around a lot. Which means no grains, which means no beer, which in turn means some of us that like beer almost as much as CrossFit find paleo hard to stick with. Recently I found an article that reports Julio Mercader, a University of Calgary research chair in tropical archaeology and his Mozambican colleagues have recently discovered that hunter-gatherers in Mozambique were harvesting, processing, and eating wild sorghum 100,000 years ago.

The way I figure, alcohol could have been very easily discovered and produced during the stone age by cavemen. It would not be far fetched to believe that paleo hunters had favorite hunting grounds where they would return to season after season. Perhaps they had caves that they would temporarily occupy during these hunts to store their rations in, and perhaps some of these rations were sweet enough to ferment in a pool to create the caveman equivalent of pruno or prison juice. Perhaps, after one particularly lousy hunt, the hunters return to their cave defeated and famished but the only thing to eat is the rotting fruit from last season. How much of a stretch would it be to consider that they were hungry enough to go for it and wound up with a particularly nice buzz? This shred of doubt is enough for me, so I ventured out to find truly paleo beers. Here are my results:

Paleo Beers

St Peter's Sorgham Beer

St Peter's Sorgham Beer is made from American Amarillo hops and sorghum, that’s it. No rice extract, no barley, no corn syrup like many of the other gluten-free beers squeeze in. It’s brewed in the UK by a small brewery.

Aroma: It smells  faintly sweet.  The smell reminds me of an Arnold Palmer, half sweet tea, half lemonade.

Taste: Its stern and hoppy taste is quite reminiscent of a German pilsner.  The carbonation is slight with small bubbles that give it a clean and crisp feeling. There is an aftertaste of bitter orange and grass that I find pleasant. This in not an everyday beer, nor should it be.

Pairing: This is the kind of beer that goes great with meats. Think along the lines of a hearty steak or fatty salmon since this brew's bitterness really brings out the flavor of meats.

Price: At $6 a bottle, you are paying for not only the beer but the fancy bottle and the fact that you are drinking something British. Pip pip, good sir!

Availability: Hard to find. I have only seen it at Binny's, but I suppose other stores that fit the beverage depot style should carry it as well.


Bard’s, by Bard’s Tale Beer out of Utica New York, boasts only four ingredients: water, yeast, hops, and Sorghum.

Aroma: The smell is very faint with hints of maple and clover honey.

Taste: Slightly woody tasting and not as grassy as some of the other sorghum beers. There is a hint of molasses and caramel and it is slightly sweeter than most of the gluten-free beers that tend to be on the bitter side of the spectrum. That is not to say it is too sweet; on the contrary, I would say the perfect blend of sweet and bitter makes this a great everyday/party beer. In fact, all of the bottle caps have fun/lame conversation starters written on them. The carbonation is crisp with small bubbles and the overall taste can be described as light. The aftertaste really stays with you and is a cross between oak and black licorice, but not too heavy on the licorice.

Pairing: Nothing or everything. This beer is the girl in a little black dress of gluten-free brews; goes great with anything or naked.

Price: $10 a six pack.

Availability: If you live near a Whole Foods, chances are they have it. If they don’t and you ask for it, chances are they’ll get it.


Toleration, by Nick Stafford’s Hambleton Ales, is one of the worst gluten-free beers out there. I actually wanted a different brew but couldn't find it, so I took my chances on this monstrosity.

Aroma: I could tell by the stench of burnt sugar and over-ripe Granny Smith apples that I was going to regret this purchase.

Taste: Not my favorite of these gluten-free beers. I am not entirely sure that it is sorghum, as the ingredients claim specially selected sugars--whatever that means. The best thing about this beer is its color. Everything else is a head-on collision with suck.  It tastes too sweet and too bitter at the same time; not unlike rotten fruit. There is a metallic overtone to the beer as well. The carbonation fades quickly but the taste of sweat and stomach bile sticks to your tongue like a stamp. Overall, it feels less like I drank a beer and more like someone punched me in the mouth with a sweaty sock.

Pairing:  Brillo pads to scrape the vile aftertaste off your tongue.

Price: $8 per bottle.

Availability: I found it in Binny’s, but I wouldn’t recommend looking for it.

Gluten-Free Beers
A word on the paleo impostors: There are gluten-free beers galore, but unless you have a gluten allergy, what’s the point?

The Bad...
Here are some particularly nasty tasting beasties that soiled my poor palette:

Sprecher - Tastes like it sounds. Why it’s not paleo: millet

Redbridge - Mass produced by Anheuser-Busch this is the Bud of gluten free. Why it’s not paleo: corn syrup!
And the Good...
They can't be all bad. These GF beers are actually not bad, but also not paleo by my lofty standards.

New Grist - Light but flavorful. Why it’s not paleo: rice extract

Estrella Damm Daura - It’s good...really, really good! Why it’s not paleo: barley malt


Disclaimer (I've just got to do it!): The views, opinions, and positions expressed within this guest post are those of the author alone and do not necessarily represent those of Pam King, Paleo Table, or its affiliates. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions, or representations.


  1. Great guest post! Witty and thoughtful on a topic that interests me. Thanks Pam!!

  2. Thanks for the comment, Owen. And thanks to K. for the great guest post. I'm planning a tailgate foods post later today to complement the beer recommendations. Now you can stay totally paleo for the rest of the football season!