Thanks to millet, that dinky little grain most of us associate with birdseed, Seattle’s gluten-averse drinkers now pour a local beer that isn’t a sad trombone of blandness (or funky in a very unintentional sort of way).
Every ale produced at SoDo’s new Ghostfish Brewing Company is completely free of barley, and by extension gluten. Brewmaster Jason Yerger for the most part rejects the traditional substitute of sorghum—too sweet—and relies chiefly on various millet malts with a supporting cast of buckwheat, quinoa, and wild rice…and tons of tinkering. Yerger brews everything from brown ale to hibiscus saison for Ghostfish’s taproom, but tallboys of its flagship beers—the Watchstander stout made with five different millet roasts, a slightly hoppy Vanishing Point pale ale, the aromatic Shrouded Summit witbier—appear in bars and on store shelves around town. The cans resemble cover art for a series of maritime mystery novels; you have to really look to find that “gluten free” label. These alternative grains produce beer that’s a bit lighter on the palate, but that’s by no means a bad thing.