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.