Lobethal Bierhaus’ Lentil Pale Ale was launched this week following an approach by pulse processor AGT Foods.
The brewery uses whole and diamond-cut red lentils with grey seed-coats as an adjunct. These are milled with the grain at the rate of 30% lentils and 70% barley.
Only about 3,500 bottles and two kegs are part of the first run, though the brewery sees it as a first step towards producing a gluten-free craft beer.
According to owner and head brewer Alistair Turnbull, though the lentils do not produce fermentable sugars, they add mouthfeel, head retention and flavour to the beer.
“I would describe it as a fairly earthy flavour that we’ve balanced with local hops that matches with it. But we’ve also tried to make sure that we haven’t made it overly bitter or hoppy so it hides the lentil flavour,” Turnbull said.
The brew follows a collaboration between AGT’s Canadian parent company and Rebellion Brewing Company in Regina, Saskatchewan, to brew a “lentil cream ale”.
“They put me in touch with the Canadian brewery to pass on some of their research and the beer we released was the result of that,” Turnbull said.
“I’m already really impressed with how it behaves. What it does for the beer is fantastic.
“The guys from the Rebellion Brewing Company in Canada came here as well and they were quite impressed with it, they said it tasted great.”
Lobethal Bierhaus opened in 2007 in the town of Lobethal, about 40km east of Adelaide. It includes a bespoke malthouse—one of the very first of its kind in Australia—an all-grain microbrewery with a brew length of 1,200 litres, a cellar door and a restaurant.
Turnbull said the brewery’s ability to malt its own grain meant a further collaboration with AGT to source sorghum or a similar grain to produce a full-flavoured gluten free product was a real possibility.
“There’s a lot of people out there who are coeliacs and they’d like to drink craft beer but they can’t,” he said.
“A lot of the beers that are gluten free tend to be more mainstream as opposed to full flavour so there’s a bit of a window there and it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do.
“I’m getting a huge amount of interest from that perspective.”
AGT’s regional business manager, Hayden Battle, said as far as he was aware, the Lentil Pale Ale was the first beer in Australia to use lentils.
He said the company approached Lobethal Bierhaus because they wanted to use the product as a marketing tool for AGT and the broader Australian pulse industry.
“Most people like beer so it was a good opportunity to use that to our advantage,” he said.
“The majority of pulses produced in Australia are exported to be consumed overseas so if we can place the spotlight on pulses in some small way then it’s probably a good project that’s a bit of fun.
“We’ve had discussions around creating a gluten free beer and we’re trying to source some white sorghum out of our New South Wales plant that Alistair can play around with.
“Perhaps we can also look at doing something with fava beans or chick peas in the future.”