What do you miss the most since going gluten free? For Kid Allergy, the answer is always cake. For the adults out there, however, I bet beer might have come to mind. This is because beer is traditionally made with gluten-filled barley or wheat meaning that beer drinking is completely off-limits. But…what if I told you one trip to Seattle could change all that for you?
We want to welcome you to the world of Ghostfish Brewing Co. where all the beers they brew are 100% gluten free.
Of the roughly twelve or so dedicated gluten free breweries in the United States, none of them reside in my home state of Texas. So, when Kid Allergy Travel was putting together our itinerary for our trip out west, partnering with the fine folks at Ghostfish was at the top of my list. I just had to get a taste of this award winning brew, and I really wanted to understand the drive behind why they took on the task of challenging the traditional ways of beer making.
Why gluten free?
The story is wrapped up in friendship, marriage, the internet, and celiac disease. Two long time friends named Brian and Randy wanted to start a business together, and the brewpub concept was at the center of their business plan. But, as Brian’s wife Amber had been diagnosed with celiac disease, he saw another opportunity out there involving the gaping hole in quality and quantity in the gluten free beer market. So, these two buddies took to the internet, partnered with a seasoned gluten free brewer, and all three got to work.
How is it gluten free?
The formula is based on three main ingredients: millet, rice, and buckwheat. For flavor, Ghostfish uses things like tapioca, coriander, clove in some brews, while other beers include fresh citrus and spicy peppers. Aromatics and bitterness comes from a collection of hops sourced from their hometown state of Washington, as well as, neighboring Oregon. No gluten-filled ingredients are even allowed inside the brewery and any ingredients used there that is not produced in a gluten free environment is tested and certified gluten free.
Does it taste good?
Quite simply…yes. These are award winning craft beers folks. I’m even willing to bet that one taste will make you a life long believer in the innovative ways of Ghostfish Brewing whether you have to drink gluten free beer or not. Awards number in the many over the years, and the latest accolade comes from the 2019 Best of Craft Beer Awards where they won Bronze in the Gluten Free Beer Category.
Our Experience Touring & Tasting
Owner Brian Thiel and I hit it off while bonding over our passion for connecting with those in the gluten free community, and what it is like raising gluten free kids. Our visit happened to coincide with a trip he had scheduled to Colorado to finalize distribution there (LUCKY YOU COLORADO!), so the Kid Allergy Travel family got the opportunity to meet up with Lindsay, the Ghostfish Taproom Manager.
Lindsay started by giving us a detailed tour of the dedicated gluten free brewing facility, and was very thorough in walking us through the gluten free beer making process. From there, we went straight to the front of the building that houses the Taproom to begin a proper beer tasting consisting of one flight of flagship beers and another flight comprised of seasonal sensations.
Meteor Shower Blonde (light blonde ale). Shrouded Summit Belgium White Ale (light crisp ale with a hint of coriander, clove, and banana flavor). Vanishing Point Pale Ale (well-balanced pale ale with a slightly stronger hoppy taste). Grapefruit IPA (earthy full-bodied IPA with a citrus undertone).
Gosefish Hibiscus-Cranberry Gose (lactose free Gose with floral notes plus tartness). Passionmilk Kettle Sour (a true sour that uses lactose but lacks a sour taste). Covfefe Imperial White IPA (strong hoppy taste using Belgium yeast and a hint of pineapple). Ghost Pepper Saison (spicy saison using ghost, Serrano and Anaheim peppers).
Of the eight tasted, I was smitten with 50% of them. That’s pretty darn good considering I generally steer clear of beers that are super hoppy, tarte or dark like IPAs, fruity beers, or stouts. My goal when drinking beer is to find a brew that isn’t plagued with anything too overpowering.
I absolutely adored the Shrouded Summit Belgium White Ale. It really surprised me how this beer that has zero wheat could actually taste like a traditional Abbey Ale. This was exactly the type of beer that has always been near and dear to my heart, and they hit the nail on the head with this formula for sure.
Three others really surprised me: Grapefruit IPA, Passionmilk Kettle Sour, and Ghost Pepper Saison.
Until now, I never met an IPA that I liked. And, I am also not a grapefruit fan. Surprisingly, the Ghostfish Grapefruit IPA wasn’t too hoppy and found a way to totally cut out the bitterness I find in the actual fruit. Ultimately, this beer was subtle, light, and complex balancing out the fresh citrus with sorghum, tapioca, and candied rice syrup. It was totally apparent to me why this beer won the bronze medal at the GABF competition two years in a row. It goes down smooth and was just plain amazing.
I also have to admit that I am not one for historically loving the sour category. The Passionmilk Kettle Sour, however, was a true hit for me. They use the traditional method of brewing a sour but use millet, buckwheat, and rice instead to keep it gluten free. What worked for me is that I felt it lacked any real sour aftertaste. But, this one is made with lactose so steer clear if you happen to have any lactose related allergies.
Lastly, the Ghost Pepper Saison shined. Admittedly, I do like spicy foods and jalapeño peppers are something that I eat with every meal if I have the chance. But, this beer has just a hint of spice that comes on slowly. Not a pepper lover? Don’t worry. You won’t find any ‘slap you in the face’ hot coming from this brew. Ghost Pepper Saison has only a slight undertone of spice without being too bold. It mixes really well with the fruit undertones that are present. Lindsay said, “It’s enough to make you feel alive.” We definitely agree.
In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed all of these beers. Even after the tasting, it was still pretty hard to believe that these quality craft brews were 100% gluten free. We recommend you order one of the flights if you really want to savor this experience. It is probably the best way to understand the artistry behind Ghostfish, and draw out your opportunity to drink something that is normally off limits if you live gluten free.
But wait….there is more.
The Dedicated Gluten Free Kitchen
Remember how the original business dream was to own a brewpub? Ghostfish now has a 100% gluten free kitchen too! Once these guys established the beer making process, dominated the gluten free beer category by winning awards, and vamped up distribution, they got the opportunity to set up the Ghostfish Taproom. A few years running, this is something our family felt rounded out the entire experience here. It is family and dog friendly and that opens up the opportunity for moms and dads to enjoy the luxury of excellent gluten free craft brews in a place where you don’t feel strange bringing your kiddos along.
Hubby had the jackfruit burger with a side of fries and it was blow your mind amazing. I had the most phenomenal goat cheese gnocchi with a fried egg on top.
The little one opted for the kids portion of fish and chips. With all these amazing gluten free delicacies on hand, you would think Kid Allergy would branch out a bit. But not my kid! He stuck to the kids menu. My nine year old boy couldn’t resist ordering one of the all time favorite kid staples…mac & cheese.
Lindsay told us a story of a woman from my home state who made a visit to the brewery and actually burst into tears when she had her first sip of Ghostfish. She missed beer so much that it was absolutely unbelievable to her that she could put it to her lips on it again. And…I totally get it. This place is emotional on a number of levels. It takes an incredible amount of detail and care to brew gluten free beer and cook up food in a totally dedicated gluten free kitchen. My family felt safe. They felt loved. And…we know you will too.
Just go ahead and book your tickets to Seattle right now. Gluten free beer and a 100% tasty brewpub. What more is there to say?
Please note Kid Allergy Travel did receive complementary tasting flights. But, beers enjoyed after the formal tasting, and all food dishes described here were purchased without any discount or comp. Although this was part of a media visit, rest assured, the opinions provided in the post by Kid Allergy Travel remain our own. Photos by Kid Allergy Travel.
Looking for more to do in Seattle with kids after your visit to Ghostfish Brewing Co? Check out our review of 3 great family friendly indoor activities in Seattle.
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