Thursday, April 14, 2011

Product Review: St. Peter's Sorgham Beer

Before you jump all over me for the spelling of this blog post's title, no, that's not a typo. Today we're reviewing St. Peter's Sorgham Beer. (I'm not going to get into whether or not the brewery has misspelled the name of the central grain in their brew... All I'll say is that the Latin name for the genus is Sorghum. Do with it what you will.)

St. Peter's is a brewery based in the United Kingdom. They make plenty of traditional barley-based beers, but they also make a gluten-free beer, which in the U.K. is sold as St. Peter's G-Free, and in the U.S. as St. Peter's Sorghum - ahem, Sorgham - Beer. I've heard about it for a while, but until recently, hadn't seen it at any of my local beer distributors. It's sold in the brewery's signature oval bottle in 500ml quantities, which translates to 1 pint 0.9 oz in the U.S., or not quite a bottle and a half of "standard" beer.

At $6.50 per bottle, it's fairly pricey, and quite a markup over its price in the U.K., where you can buy the same bottle for the equivalent of about $4 U.S. Even so, it's not priced noticeably different from other such imports, like Green's.

Upon pouring a glass, I immediately noticed a nice initial foamy head that lingered for at least several minutes as I got out the camera to snap these photos. St. Peter's describes it as a clean, crisp Pilsener-style lager. (The lager is an interesting choice, given that the brewery is known for its authentic English-style ales.) They also noted aromas of citrus and mandarin (which seems redundant, doesn't it? Isn't mandarin by definition a citrus flavor?). The sorghum beer is brewed with Amarillo hops.

Here's our take on the beer:

Pete - Coarse carbonation. Dry and bitter. A certain maltiness to it (akin to a malted barley beer). Not very hoppy. A different flavor profile than any other sorghum beer I've tried.

Kelli - Smells "beer-y." Pinches the side of your tongue. Missing a depth of flavor component. Lacks finish.

We both agreed that the more we drank it, the more we liked it. But the beer remained dry and bitter. Having brewed myself with sorghum, Amarillo hops and orange peel, it was interesting to see how different this beer tasted - I detected very little of the Amarillo hops, and no citrus notes, in the St. Peter's, contrary to their description.

It's not a refreshing beer like, say, New Planet. That said, there's absolutely a place for bitter beers in the wide world of brewing. It'd be very interesting to directly compare St. Peter's with RedBridge and Bard's, which are also bottled all-sorghum lager beers.

With the steep price and the coming summer, when refreshing beers are more the norm, I probably won't be drinking much St. Peter's. But as an occasional splurge - perhaps paired with a fall Oktoberfest meal - this bitter beer would be a winner and a welcome addition to the gluten-free beer rotation.

- Pete


Elizabeth said...

I will have to see if I can find a bottle to give it a try. Redbridge is the only GF beer I have liked thus far.

Laura said...

I really love St Peter's! I first had it at Monk's Kettle in San Francisco but they actually mark it up to around $16 per bottle, which is pretty outrageous. I was super happy to discover some of the local Whole Foods branches carry it for about $5.

Tim said...

I had St. Peter's for the first time this week. Up until this point I've had Bards, Red Bridge, New Grist, and all three offerings from Green's. I have to say that St. Peter's is in my top two favorites along with Green's Amber. I found St. Peter's to be complex, a little bitter and fruity from the hops used. I love that the finish is so pleasant, several other gluten-free beers have a harsher, almost sour finish, I didn't notice this with the St. Peter's. I haven't had non GF beer in about five years, but this reminds me a little of Sam Adams Lager. Sam Adams was my default purchase for awhile because is wasn't too much more expensive than popular national brands, very versatile, complex enough to be enjoyable, and available everywhere in New England.

Rusty said...

Absolutely my favorite GF Beer. It's fairly widely available in the DC area at Whole Foods and a few other stores.

peterbronski said...

Glad to hear St. Peter's is pretty available! And that folks like it! It's definitely a good GF beer worthy of the praise (and the drinking). =)

Cheers, Pete said...

Although I have talked with the importer and the brewer, I have yet to be able to try St. Peter's as it is not available in Nebraska. I appreciate your review. Every beer has a drinker and all GFree beers should be available every where. The goal of the Association is to increase GFree Beer availability. Thanks for sharing.

Igliashon Jones said...

One thing I discovered about this beer is, NEVER grab the bottle from the front of the shelf. I drank it for years thinking it was an unremarkable pilsner, but the other night I figured out that green glass doesn't protect beer as well as brown, and especially since it's an import it's not likely to be as fresh. So I reached into the back of the shelf and grabbed a bottle from the shadows. Holy mackerel, it was an entirely different beer! I tasted the amarillo hops in all their citric glory for the first time ever (I too am a brewer, so I know what they taste like). Try this beer again, but grab a fresher bottle!

peterbronski said...

Hi Igliashon... Good tips!

Cheers, Pete