Best Gluten Free Beers

Otherwise Brewing Western Addition Pale Ale

Otherwise Brewing Western Addition Pale Ale

Gluten Free Pale Ale

Did you know that there is a gluten free brewery in San Francisco, California? There is now! It’s called Otherwise Brewing and it appears to have opened up during the lost years of Covid shutdowns. Otherwise brews their beers with 100% gluten free ingredients. Please note that (like several other GF brands) they contract brew their beers, which means they are using another brewery’s equipment (with extensive cleaning procedures between brews).

I’m sure it’s not easy to open up a dedicated GF space in any city–but San Francisco is an expensive place for commercial real estate, so let’s hope they have enough success to overcome that obstacle and are one day able to open their very own brewery.

The beer I’ll be reviewing tonight is part of their flagship lineup. It’s called the Western Addition Pale Ale. It has a 5% ABV and is brewed with rice malt, millet malt, and some classic west coast hops including Chinook, Centennial, and Simcoe. (yum!)

If pale ales aren’t your thing, be sure to check back soon, because I have 4 other gluten free styles to follow. Those include an juicy IPA, a rice lager, a dessert stout, and a sour ale. I figured I’d start with a crowd favorite though…a good ‘ol west coast pale ale. This particular beer I’m pouring now appears to have been canned just 5 weeks ago, so nice and fresh for today’s review.

The Taste Test

Western Addition Pale Ale

The Western Addition Pale Ale pours with what’s probably the highest clarity I’ve ever seen in any beer ever poured. I could quite literally perform a fingerprint analysis through this beer. Although to be fair, the pint size can did not all fit in the glass at once, so perhaps the clarity will change when I pour the remainder. But for now, this baby is as clear as it gets. (UPDATE: This supreme clarity is maintained through the entire can’s pour!)

The head and color of the Wester Addition Pale Ale are remarkable too. It has a bright light gold color. Its clarity allows a lot of light into this beer and I think it’s a real beauty. The head formed really nicely too, and it retains well. The aroma is packed with notes of pine, and I’m not going to lie…that’s exactly what I was hoping for when I noticed the west coast hop bill.

When I take my first sip of this gluten free pale ale, the first characteristic I notice is the light body, which surprised me a bit because that’s not usually my first perceived quality. The second word that comes to mind is “bright”. Its taste matches its appearance in that way. Pretty quickly after the first sip, I am met with the hop profile, which is a nice mixture of citrus and pine, with an earthy undertone (instead of a fruity one). The hop flavor sets in first, then the bitterness meets you at the end of the palate and lingers lightly after a dry forrest finish.

The Western Addition Pale Ale certainly drinks like a classic west coast pale ale. Here on the west coast, pales will often present as a slightly less intense version of an IPA…and I’ll be honest, I think west coast PALES could often hold their own beside IPAs brewed elsewhere in the country. In other words, west coasters love their hops, which tends to create a lot of similarities of character between the two styles.

That said, this pale does a really nice job of featuring the flavor profile and body before the bitterness sets in. The bitterness is moderate too. It’s consistent and never fully abandons the palate, but it’s not one of those pales that greet you with bitterness, and it doesn’t build intensely. As I mentioned earlier, I perceived several qualities before the bitterness, and I really like that. So at the end of the day, the Western Addition Pale Ale lives up to its style AND to west coaster’s obsession with hops.

Lindsi Kay gluten free beer

Despite it seeming like the west coast “has all the gluten free beers”, when I first started reviewing them (6 or 7 years ago now?!), California didn’t actually have much in the way of gluten free breweries. There is one exception (shout out to California’s OG GF brewery…Buck Wild), but they too had to contract brew for many years before they were able to open up their own dedicated brewery.

In the early days, all the gluten free breweries were concentrated in the Pacific NORTHwest, so I’m happy to see more gluten free brewing taking place in California. It makes it easier for those southern states like Arizona and Nevada to drink gluten free. Although, I would love for those states to get their own gluten free brewery too!

As I mentioned earlier, I have several more reviews coming for Otherwise Brewing. Stay tuned to read about (and watch the beer pour) for the rest of their flagships, including the:

  • Hella Nibs Dessert Stout
  • Guava Fresca Kettle Sour
  • Calrose Crisp Rice Lager
  • 30,000 Feet Juicy IPA

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

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Gluten free since 2011. An unapologetically passionate dancer of many paths. Lover of thunderstorms, golden retrievers, and AMAZING craft beer. Bitter and hoppy is my jam. ★
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