Thursday, 7 October 2010

Lager of the week — Mongozo Premium Pilsener

Gluten-free beers. Good cause, filthy stuff in my experience, and you have to feel sorry for someone who likes a beer but can’t stomach the barley. Several years back I was sent a gluten-free beer. It was Hell in the Pacific in the mouth — Lee Marvin and Toshirô Mifune battling it out on a small Pacific island translated into varnish and Cherry Blossom boot polish rattling each others’ cages on my tongue; I remember thinking: well at least it’s wet. Result: have stayed clear of them until now.

In the middle of researching a ‘whither Pilsner’ piece for All About Beer, I spot that Beer Merchants have got a g/f Pilsner from Huyghe, under the Mongozo brand (was the ‘banana lambic’ I sampled in an Antwerp beer festival in 1996 one of theirs I wonder?). It’s Fair Trade and organic as well, but I’m not chucking my hat onto that particular ethical table. A quick email to BM’s Phil Lowry and he sends me a couple (along with some other Pilsners, thanks Phil — the Rothaus Tannen Zäpfle is monstrously glorious, a cavalry charge of noble hops) and with a sinking heart I pour myself a glass…

Believe it or not it’s great to be wrong, especially when it comes to beer. This Premium Pilsener is easily the best g/f beer I have tasted. For a start it tastes like a good version of a Pilsner, even with rice in the mix (I’m a firm believer of rice in risotto rather than beer but that’s for another debate and there are respected brewers of my acquaintance who will actually argue that rice is not the devil) — it’s pale gold in colour with a nose that’s suggestive of bitter lemon, though lacking the sour-sweet poke in the eye of a lemon. There’s a mineral-like firmness on the palate (rather than that flabby syrup-sweetness you get with many commodity lagers), a pleasant sweetness in the mouthfeel and the slightest of bitter finishes that gets me going back for more. Gluten-free beers have obviously come on since I last carpet-bombed my palate in a good cause. 


  1. My wife is gluten intolerant, so can't drink normal beer. I've brought home a few GF beers for her in the past but they've been pretty nasty. Will have to get hold of some of the Mongozo, sounds much better.

  2. Was interested in this as I have Coeliac's ,every gluten free beer I've tried has been rank.Will have to try and get my hands on some.Like most other gluten free products I bet it's expensive?

  3. Is it actaully Gluten free or is it low gluten? I was sent a sample of Estrella Dam's Gluten Free beer awhile back and it was really really good. Not a fantastic beer in real terms but a spot on mainstream lager. Then the Rep had to confess that it wasnt actually brewed without gluten it was just heavily filtered to reduce gluten. Here in NZ it doesnt meet the threshold to be called Gluten Free but aparently in Spain it does , even though theres potentialy enougth gluten to do a celiac damage.

  4. Mybrewerytap — be interested to hear what she thinks
    Snippet — it’s £1.85 a bottle from beermerchants
    Kieran — they say it’s gluten free but here’s the link to the website

  5. "the Rothaus Tannen Zäpfle is monstrously glorious, a cavalry charge of noble hops"

    And that was a bottle... you definitely should try it on draught (unpasteurised, that is) on its home turf one of these days... ;o)

  6. Glad to hear someone has cracked this. I love gluten, me, but a couple of my chums will be delighted to get their hands on a passable GF beer.

    I love the Rothaus branding -- it reminds me of the Spreewald Pickles from Goodbye Lenin. (Wrong half of Germany, I know.)

    Mongozo Coconut, on the other hand, is still the worst beer we've ever tasted.

  7. So its first ingredient is barley malt so its the faux gluten free model, perhaps its a European standard. Not much good to sensitive celiacs.

  8. Laurent — one of my ambitions when I get to Germany again is to try it on draught
    Bailey — I always think it unfair that gluten free beer always had a shocking taste
    Kieran — I must admit I thought you had to leave barley malt out of the equation and use sprghum or something like that but I presumed that the technology was better than it used to be.