Aurochs Brewing Company
Best Gluten Free Beers Guest Review
Written by: Neil Rupp (Columbus, OH)
A few weeks ago, I saw a request on Best Gluten Free Beers for someone near Pittsburgh to assist in reviewing Aurochs Brewing Co. While I’ve haven’t blogged much since the MySpace days, I would be visiting the Iron City soon and knew this would be a fun venture.
First, a little back story on me. I’ve been gluten-free since 2006 after a slow separation with craft beer and a deeper relationship with wine and cider. I started homebrewing in an attempt to make something better than the more widely available GF beers and fortunately I’ve been able to travel and try some craft GF beers over the years. With that said, I’m very happy to have Aurochs about 3 hours from my hometown Columbus, Ohio.
My yearly visit is primarily for my other hobby: Roller Coasters! Knoebel’s Amusement Park is located in Elysburg, PA and the first weekend in October is the Covered Bridge Festival–a large gathering of crafts and food vendors along with the park’s world class rides. On the return trip through Pittsburgh is a scheduled stop at the classic Kennywood Park, but this year’s plans were spoiled by rain from the remnants of Hurricane Nate.
Aurochs Taproom Experience
Emsworth is located NW of Pittsburgh’s downtown along the Ohio River and this is my second visit to the brewery after stopping by exactly one year ago. Back then, they were just starting to ramp up production with only a couple beers on tap. This year I can see that production is in full-swing with five beers on the tasting menu and more in line to be kegged very soon. They have been distributing kegs and 22 oz bottles to the area’s bottle shops, beer distributors and restaurants. Plans call for new 12 oz bottles/6 packs very soon and hopefully expansion into other markets (like Columbus!) down the road.
Aurochs facility is 100% gluten-free using malted millet and quinoa (and a few other grains) supplied by Grouse Malt House in Colorado. Completely unexpected on my part, I was able to meet with Twila (founder/owner of Grouse) during the brewery tour as she was visiting while in the area to see family. I made sure to thank her for making GF malted grains easily accessible to all of us home brewers as well as the GF breweries of the world.
The beers speak for themselves, but it’s the people that make this place special. Ryan and Doug (co-founders) are two of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet and they’ve added a number of spectacular folks to the team over the past year to help them out. I know starting a business can be difficult at times, but these guys keep pushing forward and I’m very impressed with the progress they’ve made over the past year.
Now…on to the BEER!
On Tap at Aurochs Brewing
While I’m a beer drinker at heart, it’s been over 10 years since I’ve had gluten-FULL beer. Hopefully these reviews make sense! ? Per the tap list, I was treated with 5 options:
- Hefeweizen: 5.1% / 30 IBU
- Blonde Ale: 4.5% / 13 IBU
- Session IPA: 4.5% / 47 IBU
- Brown Ale: 4.5% / 25 IBU
- Nitro Brown Ale: 4.5% / 25 IBU
5.1% / 30 IBU
The Hefeweizen and Blonde Ales fight for the lightest option on the list. Both have a light golden color with the Hefeweizen having a slight amber tone to make it slightly darker. The Hefeweizen starts with a light smell of hops and citrus leading to a light body taste and clean finish. I’ve made a few Hefeweizens in my homebrew days and Aurochs uses a wonderful combination of hops that complement the GF grains perfectly–much better than my personal attempts! This beer stays true to the style and makes me instantly imagine lazy summer afternoons.
4.5% / 13 IBU
The Blonde Ale is easy-drinking perfection. It’s light and crisp and has slight citrus notes that lead to a finish that has slight grain overtones that slowly drift away.
4.5% / 47 IBU
I’m kind of a sucker for IPAs. I’d say about every 3rd brew I do at home is an IPA and Aurochs knocks it out of the park with their Session IPA. Strong hops and a tiny hint of citrus on the nose lead way to a full-bodied, bitter, slightly nutty flavor profile with a smooth finish that’s as true to the style in more ways than one.
This is definitely my favorite of the bunch and my first pick for a growler fill.
Brown Ale / Nitro Brown Ale
4.5% / 25 IBU
Nutty, nutty goodness. Just a light nose on this one and a delightful roasted nut flavor throughout. A simply smooth finish makes this one an easy target for the Nitro tap and results in an ultra-smooth brew with a very refined mouth-feel. I might call this ‘all-around-brown,’ since it fits the category so well and complements the other selection of brews perfectly.
When In Pittsburgh…
They do make a dark Porter, but it was not available and I hope to get a taste during a future visit. Talking with Ryan, the team has done about 20 different varieties so far and while it’s been fun, the next production push is focusing on a number of the core brews – blonde, amber, brown and porter. That being said, they were just about to keg a Pumpkin Spice Brown Ale after I left. Sounds fun and delicious!
If you end up in Pittsburgh, keep your eyes open at local bars and restaurants for the horns of the Aurochs in the tap handle line-up as they continue to expand and make their name known throughout the region. Cheers to Ryan and Doug to a bright (and gluten-free) future!
Thank you Neil Rupp for your contribution to Best Gluten Free Beers!
Have a review you want to contribute? Find out how here.