Bellingham Beer League, Menace Brewing Release ‘Intolerant Bastard’

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New brew is first gluten-free, low-carb, low-alcohol, hopless ‘beer’ on the market

BELLINGHAM, WABellingham Beer League and Menace Brewing today announced the release of their latest collaboration brew: Intolerant Bastard, a gluten-free, low-carb, low-alcohol, hopless beverage for those who cannot drink traditional beers.

“This is true session beer for people who can’t or won’t drink beer,” said Jim Parker, founding board member of the Bellingham Beer League, a cooperatively owned brewery incubator currently in the planning stages in Bellingham.

“Sure, it’s a tiny niche within a small segment of the beer market,” Menace’s Benjamin Buccarelli said of the new brew. “But we are a pretty tiny brewery.” Menace, which is housed in a small Ferndale industrial park, currently produces 12 gallons of beer per batch.

The brew is made with a combination of wild rice, oats and corn to produce a gluten-free, low-carb wort, then flavored with wild-crafted nettles, yarrow and dandelion root during the boil. The beer is then fermented with a special yeast strain (Saccharomyces ludwiggii) that can only ferment simple sugars and therefore produces less alcohol. The resulting brew meets the international standard of less than 20 parts per million of gluten, has fewer than 7 grams of carbohydrates per 12-ounce serving and has an alcohol content of 2.5 percent by volume. It also has no hops and only 56 calories per 12-ounce serving.

“I spend a lot of time behind bars and I am often asked for a beer that is gluten-free, or low-carb, or low alcohol,” said Parker. “Or someone will say they don’t like beers that are hoppy or fattening. I approached Ben with the challenge of crafting a beer for those who can’t tolerate traditional beers. I think we nailed it. We are going to petition the Brewers Association to have this style added for judging at the Great American Beer Festival. I call it Celiac Drinking Ale, or CDA for short. I think it has a nice ring to it and I hope it catches on with beer drinkers.”

This is not the first collaboration between BBL and Menace. Earlier this year the two brewed The Earl of Wallonia, a saison-style beer flavored with Earl Grey tea and lemon zest. “Collaborations are a great part of the brewing community,” said Buccarelli. “But it’s hard for a brewey our size to find collaborators. Since BBL doesn’t even have a brewery yet, they are always very willing to work with us.”

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From Left: Jim Parker, Josh Smith and Benjamin Buccarelli

The previous collaboration led to a technique used on the new beer, Buccarelli said. He explained that introducing loose tea and lemon zest into the boil kettle would have clogged the brewery’s wort chiller, so Buccarelli and his partner, Brandon Peterson, put the flavorings into a small mesh bag and gingerly dipped it into the boiling wort. The brewers used the same method for adding the nettles, yarrow and dandelion root in the new beer. “It took some practice, but once we got our teabagging technique down, we really liked it,” Buccarelli said. “I think Brandon and I will be doing a lot of this in the future.”

A local beer critic, who wishes to remain anonymous, but writes under the nom de brew “beertunes” on the popular website beeradvocate.com, described the beer: “Poured from the bottle into a tulip glass with a hazy straw color and a thick tight head with plenty of lacing. The aromas of breakfast cereal and a spring meadow were pretty much as expected for the style. Oats and rice dominated the flavor with just a hint of bittering from the nettles and dandelions. The yarrow did not shine through as I would have expected and preferred. The body was a bit thin, but fit with the ethereal nature of the beer. Overall, it was a pleasant enough beverage. I don’t know if I would seek it out – unless I developed health issues. But if you get offered one for free or can snag a sample bottle that’s left at one of your favorite pubs, like I did, you should give it a try. 3.5 out of 5.”

Josh Smith, president of the Bellingham Beer League board of directors, admitted the name may strike some as insensitive, “But that’s why we are adding the tagline, ‘You ARE worthy of a beer of your own.’” When asked if perhaps the name and tagline weren’t a bit too close to Stone Brewing’s Arrogant Bastard and their slogan, “You’re not worthy,” he seemed unfazed.

“We’ve already had to change the name of our company once because of trademark issues. Besides, with a batch size this small, the beer will be gone before the ink can dry on their lawyer’s letter.”

Look for Intolerant Bastard at Menace Brewing’s two traditional outlets, Maggie’s Pub in Ferndale and The Fork at Agate Bay, while supplies last.

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