Gluten free beers are not a new product, but the attention they attract has increased exponentially in recent years. The public opinion has grown more sensitive to the issue, and this has motivated breweries to create beers for gluten intolerant drinkers.
Today, celiac customer are no longer forced to give up beer or choose alternatives that are just not as tasty. In recent years, the quality of gluten free beers has improved greatly, thanks also to the work of craft breweries. Every day, the number of Italian beers that can be enjoyed by those who are gluten intolerant increases. Nazionale Gluten Free by Baladin is certainly one of the most appreciated products now available. And it has a very interesting story behind it.
Technically, Nazionale Gluten Free is considered a very low gluten beer. It is so low (below 20 ppm) that it is "harmless” for anyone who suffers from celiac disease. 100% gluten free beers are those that are made exclusively with gluten free ingredients, particularly substitutes of barley malt such as rice, corn, buckwheat, quinoa, etc. These products, however, give up a fundamental ingredient of beer making, which necessarily means giving up part of the taste. This is not the case for Nazionale Gluten Free, which, instead, is a normal beer made with some special precautions before and during production.
As the name suggests, Baladin’s gluten free beer is a special version of Nazionale, the Blonde Ale renowned for being the first beer made exclusively with Italian ingredients (including malt and hops).
To turn a normal beer into a gluten free product, two possible approaches are possible. You can use deglutinated malt or eliminate all gluten using enzymes during the brewing process. Baladin, however, has avoided this solution, as it diverges from the natural approach that has always guided its choices. The second method, instead, requires some adjustments to the basic recipe - which has a low gluten content to begin with - so that the infamous protein complex remains under the necessary threshold. This is the path chosen for Nazionale Gluten Free.
Compared to the standard Nazionale, this special version includes the addition of 15% rice - a gluten free cereal. In keeping with the philosophy of Nazionale, this ingredient is also grown in Italy. Baladin has selected the Carnaroli variety grown by Cascina Belvedere, a long time supplier of the brewery.
The interesting thing is that only reject rice is used for beer production, i.e. rice that, for whatever reason (mainly because the grains break before being dehusked), is not sold. In addition to being gluten free, Nazionale Gluten free is therefore also an environmentally sustainable beer.
The gluten content of Nazionale Gluten Free is kept below the required threshold thanks also to other tricks used during the production process. With this kind of beers, breweries need to ensure that the end product is in line with the required specifications. This is why Baladin carries out analyses on each batch before packaging. Thanks to the strict protocols that have been adopted, these checks have never given a negative result yet. Should this ever happen in the future, the beer would be sold as regular Nazionale, indicating the presence of rice on the label.
In organoleptic terms, Nazionale Gluten Free is not substantially different from its bigger sister. The scents are virtually identical, with the usual elegant combination of malty, fruity and herbaceous notes. The taste, instead, gently shows the presence of rice: a sweet sugary hint can be felt in the center of the tongue, while the final dryness is amplified and makes you want to take immediately another sip. These slight variations are supported by the key characteristics of Nazionale: clean aromas for a beer that is very easy to drink, yet with a strong and distinctive personality.