Best Gluten Free Beers

Ground Breaker IPA No. 5

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Ground Breaker Brewing IPA No. 5

Gluten Free IPA Brewed In Portland

Today’s review is for one of the original gluten free IPAs…the IPA No. 5 from Ground Breaker Brewing in Portland, Oregon. I originally reviewed this beer 6 years ago (where has the time gone?!) so I think it’s long overdue for a refresh.

Ground Breaker Brewing IPA No 5 2020

The Ground Breaker branding and packaging as undergone several changes since my first IPA No. 5 review. They’ve also reworked the recipe in the last year, so if you weren’t a fan of this beer before, it’s time to give it another chance. If you loved it before, let me know what you think of the changes in the comments below!

It’s crazy to think that Ground Breaker is approaching their 10 year anniversary. They were the first dedicated gluten free brewery and here we are, a decade later, still enjoying their gluten free creations. 

The gluten free IPA No. 5 is brewed on sorghum, rice, buckwheat, and lentils. The rice and buckwheat are newer additions, I believe. It has a 5.5% ABV and according to their website, about 70 IBU. Below is the video for the fresh pour. If you want to see the old school review (and I do mean OLD), scroll on when you’re done reading the updated version.

The Taste Test

2021 Gluten Free IPA No. 5

The IPA No. 5 now pours with a beautiful and slightly cloudy marmalade orange color and a substantial head that truly sticks around. I poured the beer 10 minutes ago and it still has a frothy top layer on the glass. 

The aroma is incredibly hoppy and very classic PNW in its qualities. Heavy on the pine, heavy on the citrus. Those characteristics are a bit heavier on the nose than they are on the tongue. 

The first sip reveals a bright, dry, mildly bitter, fairly earthy IPA. When the beer first hit your palate, you’re met with a moderate level of carbonation and a fair amount of malt character. As it moves through, you experience more pine from the hops and the bitterness begins to build. The citrus isn’t quite as present in the flavor as it is in the aroma. 

The IPA No. 5 finishes earthy and bitter, but not a sharp bitter. The flavors left behind remind me of the forest floor and I feel a lot of it may have to do with the lentils that are a signature in many of Ground Breaker’s recipes. 

The grain profile of this gluten free IPA gives this 5.5% IPA it a nice medium body, and the carbonation balances it well, which keeps the hop character from stealing the show. 

The current pour of this IPA No. 5 doesn’t strike me as drastically different than the older recipe. I know many of their recipes have undergone a big overhaul, but I feel like they’ve preserved the classic qualities of this flagship IPA.

ground breaker brewing gluten free ipa no 5

Anyone who was exposed to the IPA No. 5 in the early days—back when it was one of the only dedicated gluten free beers on the market knows how far we’ve come in the gluten free beer industry. What do you think about the progression of Ground Breaker’s flagship IPA? Do you find it much different than you remember it being in past years? Comment your observations below!

Or keep reading to read about the 2015 version…

The Taste Test

2015 Gluten Free IPA No. 5

I recently made a trip to Newport Market, one of our local natural food stores, to search for last night’s tasting subjects. I was surprised to find that while they were stocked with an extensive variety of ciders, their gluten free beer options were very limited. Besides the standard selection of Omission beers, they carried only one other gluten free beer brand: Ground Breaker. (Formally known as Harvester Brewing. They were forced to change their name after a California wine company alleged trademark confusion.)

ground breaker brewing ipa no. 5 best gluten free beer reviews

There were 4 different styles of Ground Breaker on the shelf:

  • Pale Ale
  • IPA No. 5
  • Luella Belgian Ale
  • Dark Ale

I opted for my classic preference, the IPA, while my roommate scooped up a dark ale. We grabbed a bit of sushi and headed home to try the beers!

I find it funny that the first two reviews I published on this blog were of two completely different breweries…that both happen to be located in Portland, OR. I can only assume that it’s just because the Pacific Northwest really has their shit together when it comes to keeping us gluten free people drinking! ;)

Lindsi drinking Ground Breaker IPA No. 5 gluten free beer reviews

When I first tried the Ground Breaker beers, they were still called Harvester Brewing beers, and I wasn’t all that impressed. However, that was several years ago, so I decided to give them and their shiny new name another shot. They’ve definitely improved. Over the past few years of operation, it’s clear to me that they’ve had a bit more time and experience working with sorghum (a popular grain substitute used in gluten free beer). The flavor of the sorghum is masked much better than it used to be in their brews, and for that I am grateful.

For an IPA, it seems a bit mild to me. But this is coming from a person who loves an IPA that kicks you right in the face, metaphorically speaking. ;) That being said though, it’s still pleasant and very drinkable, something you may gravitate towards on hot summer days. It’s vibrant golden color just screams “Drink me in the hammock!”

When it hits your mouth, it tastes sweet and fresh. The essence of the Crystal and Sanity hops swirl around your mouth, creating a cool and refreshing breeze in your throat. The nutty tones of the chestnuts stand out on your palette, while you enjoy the (slightly too) mild splash of bitterness. The IPA’s medium body makes it very drinkable, especially if you plan to have a few. Unlike many IPA’s the bitter taste fades quickly and the brew leaves your mouth feeling somewhat sweet and clear. So clear, in fact, that it’s almost slightly watery at the finish. I tend to like an IPA whose taste lingers in my mouth a bit more.

 Ground Breaker IPA No 5 gluten free beer reviews

What I like most about this beer is the slight earthiness the brew has, which I assume comes from the organic lentils it’s brewed with. (I had never thought of using lentils to brew beer, but it’s genius.) The other thing I liked was that because it is brewed in a dedicated gluten free facility, I know it’s 100% gluten free.

This is huge for me. My favorite “gluten free” beer right now isn’t gluten free at all…it’s gluten reduced with the enzyme Brewers Clarex. This means that after a few, I start to feel not so great. That tiny amount of gluten (below 20 ppm) residing in those bottles starts to add up after a few…for Celiacs like me anyway. It doesn’t make me really sick, but if I have more than two, it does make me feel…worse, in general. That is not the case for me when I drink 100% gluten free beers, like this one, so in that respect, this beer gets a big thumbs up!

P.S. Like what I do for the gluten free beer community? Consider buying me a beer for my efforts! ;)

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