Unsurprisingly, one of the best gluten-free options comes from Dogfish Head, a brewery that’s already accustomed to pushing the envelope when including nontraditional ingredients in their beers. Their Tweason’ale is a strawberry-tinged brew that doesn’t taste like any other gluten-free beer on the market—and that’s a beautiful thing.
As I mentioned in the piece, Tweason’ale’s flavor profile is closer to a dry European cider than it is to beer—and despite the fact that the beer’s made with honey and strawberries, it’s not a very sweet brew at all. The overall taste is tart and slightly tannic; as Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione notes, the honey used in the brewing process is a dark buckwheat honey from Ohio. This, along with the fruity earthiness of sorghum, contributes the signature wheaty, malty notes that are often lacking in gluten-free beers.
Tweason’ale’s snappy taste reminded me so much of one of other favorite summer drinks—cold hibiscus tea—that I had to do a little experimental brewing of my own. If you’ve ever sipped a cup of Red Zinger, you’re already familiar with the slightly citric taste of hibiscus: to me, it’s a cross between lemon and cranberry, equally bright and tart. And it’s so gorgeously pink that it practically begs for a tall glass, lots of ice, and a fun straw to drink from.
In truth, I’ll happily guzzle cold-brewed tea of any flavor all summer long, and the formula for making cold-brew tea is highly familiar to anyone who made sun tea back in the day. Throw 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons dried hibiscus petals (or your favorite flavor of loose tea leaves) into 1 quart (4 cups) cold water, and let it steep for at least 4-6 hours or overnight. Strain the petals/tea leaves out before serving. You can let the brew steep in the fridge or on the counter, but keep it refrigerated once it’s ready to drink—even tea will grow mold in a warm environment.
Tweason’ale’s taste is tailor-made for an afternoon of al fresco drinking, but its 6% ABV will catch up with you after a few bottles. Cutting the beer with cold hibiscus tea keeps the fizz and the flavor, while making it a punchier summer sip that you can throw into a mason jar and tote around with you to the backyard, to the park, to the pool or the beach… or just to your front stoop. Fun straws (and cool shades) are totally optional but highly recommended.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 5 minutes
Makes 2 drinks
- 2 cups cold-brewed hibiscus tea
- 1 12-oz. bottle Dogfish Head Tweason’ale beer
Pour 1 cup hibiscus tea into each of 2 ice-filled pint glasses. Top with 6 oz. each Tweason’ale and serve immediately.