Gluten Free,  Sustainable Community

Gluten Free Happy Hour on Cape Cod

I discovered I was gluten intolerant February of 2010, which was, as luck would have it, just shortly after I had discovered my love for beer tastings.  So when, at the end of a long day of working towards sustainability, I want a brew it has to be GF (or suffer the consequences of a gluten laden hangover).

Like most things on Cape Cod there isn’t an enormous selection of GF Happy Hour options (if you’re not interested in wine or liquor) in the immediate vicinity. In case you didn’t know, in Massachusetts Happy Hour does not mean drink specials. If you’re lucky there are some free appetizers (yeah, those are usually not GF) or a food special. Somehow I get by. I tend to like to walk and bicycle to my destination, particularly when that destination is Happy Hour, so my suggestions may be somewhat biased local to Falmouth proper.

Still, by some great stroke of luck GF has started to catch on locally, and last fall there was an entire section of cider and gluten free beers at our local discount alcohol distributor. I tried several of each and was pleasantly satisfied.

Remember not all cider is gluten free – some add barley for enzymes and flavor. Woodchuck and Magners state on their websites that they are gluten free and Crispin has it right on the label.

Here I am going to try to cover what is readily available in the local bar, or to stock your home bar. I will also try to include where you can find these delectable treats (or how to avoid the ickier ones). It’s almost summer and happy hour is about to happen a lot more often, so consider this a work in progress.

The Good


Gluten Free beers that taste like Beer – These are sorghum beers and much like gluten free pizza, when you can’t have the real deal, this is as good as it gets.
New Grist – Here is a gluten free beer that tastes like beer
Bards – A lager that tastes like a lager.
New Planet Pale Ale – Another gluten free beer that tastes like beer.

Tweasonale (dogfishhead)- slightly un-beerlike, it still has some of that beer taste hidden behind a light strawberry flavor


Magners – A crisp cider, it’s dry but not really dry, not as sweet as a Woodchuck. I like this one with a cup of ice to water it down, but it is a fallback. You can’t go wrong with a Magners.

Magners Pear – Sweet and fruity, but not overly sweet. It’s a light sweet drink which I like over ice to cut the sweetness. This is a summer drink for me.

Crispin – I had a bad experience with one type of Crispin, so I am reserving judgment until I try some of their other ciders. This one is occasionally available locally.

Woodpecker – Standard cider. They had this one at the curling club, and overall I liked it. It tasted like cider, not particularly dry. They only carry on cider at a time at the curling club, and no GF beer, so my choices were limited, but I was happy to have it.

McKenzies – Another standard. Cider that tastes like cider.

Samual Smith’s Organic Cider – I had this at BBC and it was very good, but a little pricey.

Woodchuck and Angry Orchard make many types of cider and depending on your palate some are better than others. I am a fan of the not-to-sweet dark and dry. I like most of them, but here are the ones I really enjoy.

Woodchuck Reserve Belgian White – This is my favorite woodchuck cider. Dry, with a slightly yeasty after-taste that is reminiscent of my beer drinking days, it is crisp and has a light citrus flavor. It is lingering somewhere between beer and cider.

Angry Orchard Cider House Strawman – This is probably my favorite angry orchard. It’s somewhere between an earthy cider and a sparkling apple wine.

The Bad


RedBridge – This one is from Anheuser Busch and I would NOT recommend it unless you can find no other alternative. I had half of one once…and never again. I’m not the only one who feels this way, but some people like it. To be fair, if you like Anheuser Busch’s regular beer (ewe), you might like this one.


Crispin Light – I had this in Ohio. It looked like it might have been around for awhile and it was in a light colored bottle. On first sip I thought, not bad. On 4th sip I thought, OMG it tastes like marshmallows. I reserve judgement, but for now I cannot recommend it.

Woodchuck makes many types of cider and depending on your palate some are better than others. Here are the ones I dislike.

Woodchuck Reserve Pumpkin – I like pumpkin and this was to much for me. It is sweet and has that pumpkin spice taste, very bubbly. The friends who brought this to my house for a get together were glad to leave it here and we managed to drink it, eventually. Here is a better review from people who like it more than me (but still didn’t love it, they gave it a 5.83) at The Great Pumpkin Review.

Woodchuck Spring – This one tastes like light bubbly maple syrup. That is not what I expect in a cider, but if you like syrup, maybe this one is for you?

And the Distribution

Stocking your Bar – Local Distributors

Falmouth Wine and Spirits – Full disclosure: I live a half a block from this store. Falmouth Wine and Spririts has a nice gluten-free selection for a small, local store. They are willing to order your favorite if they are not currently carrying it, so I highly recommend them. Last time I was in they had Tweasonale, Grist, New Planet Pale Ale, Bards, several types of Angry Orchard, McKenzie’s, and…RedBridge.  

Kappys – Has a selection of gluten free beer over in the specialty beers aisle, on it’s own shelf where the break is between the specialty beers and mixers. The smallish selection (for such a large store) usually includes New Grist, Tweasonale, Bards and RedBridge. There is a good selection of cider in the refrigerated section all the way on the left end near the wine chiller. They usually have Magner’s, Magner’s Pear, Strong Bow, several types of Angry Orchard, several types of WoodChuck, and sometimes a Ginger Beer.

Bars with Gluten Free Cider and Beer

Stone L’Oven Pizza – Magner’s Pear
Quohog Republic – Magner’s, sometimes Magner’s Pear, Angry Orchard on tap (4/17/13)
Liam Maguire’s – usually has a cider on tap
British Beer Company is a local chain that caters to the GF crowd, they have an entire menu.
BBC Falmouth – usually has a cider on tap (right now it is Angry Orchard) and a selection of a few ciders, including organic ciders
BBC Sandwich – had Tweasonale on tap last time I was in. It’s even better on tap

What is in my fridge right now?
The box is covered with these cute illustrations of
the berry courting the bee.

One Comment

  • Masami

    Hey, G. Nice review work. Thanks for comnig by for the tasting. It was a great time. I’d love to see some of the Fox Barrel and other Crispin stuff make it into the market. your enthusiasm may help.

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