The Free From Beer Co Ltd was set up in 2018 by father and son team Michael and Thomas Sears. The initial idea for the company came about after noticing that gluten-free beer, a growing section of the market, was only really available in bottles and generally not prominently displayed to potential customers. The idea for a range of gluten-free, vegan-friendly beer available on draught was formulated, and in early 2019 the first Free From range was made available to a select number of independent bars and restaurants. While the draught beer continued to flow into a growing number of pubs (probably helped by Sears Snr’s connections from a previous stint as Sales and Marketing Director of Inch’s Cider in the 90s), the company also looked into canning their wares, which were released to consumers in September 2019.
With the trials and tribulations that 2020 brought to the hospitality industry, having Free From’s beers available in cans was probably a lifeline for the company. That year also saw the demand for alcohol-free beer surge, with almost half of UK adults purchasing nolo products or looking into alcohol alternatives. Once again seeing an opportunity in the market, Free From went back to their brewhouse to tweak their malt bills, and at the start of April 2021 they launched their non-alcoholic beer options, a lager and an IPA, which is the subject of this review. Vegan-friendly, gluten-free and alcohol-free – that’s a lot of things taken away from their beer. Will there be enough substance left there to make our taste buds sing?
The beer pours a dark golden colour with good clarity considering it is unfiltered. A small white frothy head is produced but this shrinks back pretty quickly. On the nose there’s a good amount of malt along with some clean fruity mango and melon. I’m also getting a touch of sherbet in there. A strong, enticing nose; let’s hope this continues into the taste.
Mild citrus is what greets us on imbibing, which I couldn’t make out on earlier sniffs, but offers a fresh mandarin/tangerine taste, probably achieved by dry-hopping with Mandarina Bavaria hops. Pine bitterness quickly makes itself known too, blending well with the citrus. Some fruity malt provides a balance of sweetness, almost honey-like in aroma. The body has some heft whilst the carbonation is medium, and we get a good slightly creamy mouthfeel to the drink. The finish is bitter with orange citrus.
Free From IPA eschews the preconceived notions of ‘free from’ equating to blandness and delivers a lovely hoppy fresh IPA which packs a punch in both the flavour and aroma departments. Whilst vegan and gluten-free AF beers are nothing new nowadays (around 50% of the nolo beers we’ve reviewed here are vegan friendly, and around 25% certified gluten-free), Free From Beer seem to have a good niche in the marketplace which will hopefully work well for them. I’d certainly love to come across Free From IPA on draught while I’m out and about.
Buy Free From IPA
Free From Beer Co’s beers are available in some Adsa stores and from Ocado deliveries, and are also available on draught from a small but growing number of pubs. Your best bet to buy their AF IPA is from the following online stores:
|Nutritional Information (per 100ml, taken from the side of the can)|
|Further nutritional information not given. Boo, hiss.|
|Water, Malted Barley, Hops, Maltodextrin, Yeast|
|Country of Production||United Kingdom|
|Brewer||The Free From Beer Co – https://freefrombeerco.com/|
|Gluten Free?||Yes, gluten is removed during fermentation|
Free From Alcohol-Free IPA Review
Never mind what they’ve taken out, Free From’s AF IPA is packed with aroma and flavour. There’s nothing missing from this drinking experience.