Lion-owned Hahn has acknowledged the changing face of the beer market, launching its first gluten-free beer.
Hahn Ultra Crisp, made entirely from rice, is designed to tap into the rapidly growing market for gluten free products.
The brewer says that it has spent five years developing the brewing process to enable it to make an entirely rice-based beer.
Jeff Potter, Lion’s Brewing Research and Development Director, said while rice is a common brewing ingredient, this is a first for Lion.
“There are some beers out there which use rice as part of the grain mix to balance the flavour, but we are the first in Australia to create a beer that is brewed entirely with rice, instead of grains like wheat or barley,” he said in a media release.
“The challenge for us was to work out how to make Hahn Ultra Crisp taste great without using the traditional grains which usually produce the flavours of beer as we know it.
“Once we figured that out, it was a matter of creating the perfect combination with aromatic hops and a specially chosen yeast, and the result is a crisp, dry beer with light citrus aromas and a clean finish that holds its own when it comes to flavour,” Potter said.
The beer has been endorsed by Coeliac Australia as gluten free and appropriate for those with coeliac disease. The media release stated that all the ingredients in Hahn Ultra Crisp are also naturally gluten free with testing ensuring no traces of gluten are present.
While Coeliac Australia estimates that one-in-70 Australians have coeliac disease, it is estimated that up to 11 per cent of the population follows a gluten-free diet by choice. In the United States, up to 30 per cent of people try to reduce their gluten intake.
Beer is traditionally made from grains containing gluten and, until Lions move gluten-free beer, has been the province of smaller, craft brewers such as the pioneering O’Briens Beer. These brewers have been making beers from grains such as sorghum, buckwheat and millet to service the market for gluten-free beers.
Amy Darvill, Lion’s Brand Director for Classic and Contemporary beers said in the media statement that Hahn is excited to continue evolving to meet the needs of the modern beer drinker, and in doing so launching a product which will be truly incremental to the beer category.
“Just as the low carb beers like Hahn Super Dry did over 12 years ago, Hahn Ultra Crisp will change consumer expectations around beer and bring hundreds of thousands of Australians with a gluten intolerance into the beer category,” she said in the release.
“Hahn has always been at the forefront of brewing innovation to create products that consumers want.
“Our drinkers’ needs have changed, and we need to respond to them,” Darvill said.
The move comes as the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand is currently reviewing the efficacy of carbohydrate and sugar content claims on alcoholic beverages.
The FSANZ Code currently prohibits nutritional claims on products that contain more than 1.15% ABV other than nutrition content claims about carbohydrate, energy or gluten content.
FSANZ Forum Ministers expressed concerns in November 2017 over sugar-free claims on alcoholic beverages, saying that such claims are misleading. In such cases, “alcohol is being promoted as a healthier choice for consumers when public health advice is to limit alcohol intake,” Forum Ministers said.
FSANZ is currently reviewing the regulation of carbohydrate and sugar claims about alcoholic beverages in the Code.