Gluten Free Maple Stout – Snowman Brewing

It’s time for me to get something out in public, and go back on early stuff I used to rant about.  A little more than a year ago, I had tried a couple of gluten-free beers in the hope of discovering that they weren’t awful.  But they were.  I then met the good dudes at Snowman Brewing, and tried their brown ale.  I was very happy that it was a lot better than the other stuff, but it still wasn’t a home-run. Another gluten-free beer hit the market, and I gave it a go. It was in the first group of beers.  I began to speculate, that perhaps the attempts of these beers was misguided.  They were trying to use grains other than barley, to make a barley-like beverage.  It seemed like a losing concept.  Further, there were already beers made with grains (albeit gluteny ones) that weren’t barley.  Nobody ever complained that a wheat beer didn’t taste like a pilsner, because it’s not supposed to.  It’s supposed to taste like it’s made with wheat.  Which is to say: Different.  I felt that perhaps everybody would be better suited to trying to produce a beer with a gluten-free grain, that just tasted good.  Like barley-based ale?  No, but tasty in it’s own right.  This was my thinking.  Then Kevin and Hirsch from Snowman changed my mind.  These guys are making totally gluten-free beers, that taste like regular beer.  Sometimes the body or head retention might not be “just so”, but they taste a lot better than even some micro-brewed versions of the same style, made with the advantage of barley.  That they are doing this in a garage, not a production facility, gives me great hope.  And it has changed my mind.  I would have no problem if, in the future, people made Quinoa beers that had a notably different taste compared to barley beers.  But there is no reason gluten-free beers that try to taste like established styles have to suck so badly.  Here’s further proof:

Gluten Free Maple Stout - Snowman Brewing

Gluten Free Maple Stout - Snowman Brewing

“Mmmmm, it actually tastes like beer” – Erika Schryer, gluten-free for over a year

From a 341ml ISB, the Gluten Free Maple Stout pours a deep black; held up to a very bright light, there are hints of brown at the edges, but my gosh, this is dark.  A light frothy tan head drops to a film fairly quickly and leaves just a little lace.  Aroma is peanut butter.  No wait, that’s the three year old sitting with me.  Let’s see. Nice roasty smoke and something sort of licorice/spice like.  Some sweetness that makes the licorice have a candy-like appeal.  There’s a little heat on the nose, which I assume is from the beer’s 9% abv, and a hint of maple.  Taste is sweet and boozy, like a nice imperial stout.  Burnt sugar and cocoa, as well as a bit more of that licorice note.  Makes me wonder if it was a Belgian yeast it was brewed with (Kevin and Hirsch, feel free to keep that shy; industry secrets you know…).  The combination of the smokiness and spices is really quite lovely.  As it warms, some of the sweetness moves into a rich maple syrup note, but it’s definitely an undertone; you’ve got to look for it.  Which I like, even though I am something of a maple syrup junkie.  Often times, maple syrup beers are just cloying and too much. The maple in this is delicate and soft-handed.  The mouthfeel is a bit thin for a beer of this weight, it’s more in line with a dry stout.  Actually, it would be a bit heavy for a dry stout, but whatever.  It’s quite a nice drink, and with a little tweak to the body, one that I would regularly spend money to consume.

Thanks to Snowman brewing. I love that Kevin and Hirsch are working to put out excellent beers for people who would otherwise not be able to enjoy the breadth and depth of the beer world. And I love that they have changed my mind.

Great work guys, here’s to the future!

About the Brewery

Snowman Brewing is the garage-brewing team consisting of Kevin Snow and Hirsch Goodman. We are the only Ontario brewers who brew exclusivley Gluten Free.

We use the freshest 100% celiac friendly ingredients including: hand-malted gluten free grains, fresh hops, and yeast grown on pure gluten free cultures.

We are only brewing 5 gallon batches at the present time, but If you are interested in tasting a sample or watching the brewing process, find us on facebook at

One Comment

  1. RChernick
    Posted November 8, 2016 at 4:27 am | Permalink

    Would like to order your stout at my local liquor store in SK. Is that possible? Really miss stout:(. Celiac sucks.

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