Ground Breaker is a brewery started in Portland, Oregon, USA in 2011 and was called, at that time, Harvester Brewing. They craft solely gluten-free beer, which is certified as such, and rated very highly in the realm of gluten-free beer.
Now, the first question you likely will ask is, why change the name so quickly? There seemed to be no good reason to, there are many sites and online nooks that still call them Harvester Brewing and rave about their beer! So, what happened? Clearly their marketing and reach wasn’t suffering. The Hope Family Wines company decided they didn’t like the use of the word “harvester,” since they own a trademark on the word.
Now, that may sound ridiculous, but, even more to this, they are in California and a winery. These two companies are not in the same state nor are they producing the same kind of beverage, unless you want to lump them both in as simply alcoholic beverages. Harvester Brewing responded to this by simply changing their name to Ground Breaker and moving on.
Secondly, you might ask, what makes them so special? Well, unlike many gluten-free beer producers, Ground Breaker doesn’t use enzymes to eat gluten out of gluten containing ingredients, such as malt; they simply use ingredients that don’t contain gluten in the first place!
All Ground Breaker beers are brewed using chestnuts, lentils, oats, sorghum, and hops all sourced from farms within the USA (other ingredients are added, but done so depending on the specific beer). This combination actually makes a decent replica of different American beer styles, but, even so, they will never be the same as beer with traditional ingredients and should be tasted with that in mind.
Additionally, it’s interesting to note that the brewery took a campaign to kickstarter to get the necessary funds for a canning machine, to make their beer more accessible and, between all their backers, made more than enough to make this happen, take a look at their campaign page here.
The third, and most important question: how does it taste?
Ground Breaker Pale Ale Review
This beer is described on the Ground Breaker website in a succinct manner:
Pale Ale is brewed to be bright and crisp. We dry hop with Cascade and Meridian hops to provide a floral aroma with elements of citrus and pine.
When I poured this pale ale, it was a very bright straw yellow. The head was smooth and began dissipating immediately after pouring. Plentiful amounts of bubbles could be seen rising consistently in the glass, a good indication of the higher carbonation content, usually seen in North American beer.
Smells rising are citrusy, like lemon, but hidden in the background are aromas of a wooded area in spring. Ironically, the overall smell is reminiscent of a wheat ale, especially considering this a gluten-free beer. The overall aroma is rather faint, but the citrus cuts through.
On the tongue, this pale ale is very dry and crisp. The flavor dissipates almost as fast as it hits the tongue, as expected from a dry beer, but leaves a slightly bitter flavor on the tongue. The mouthfeel is light and refreshing, but feels as if it dries out your tongue, causing you to take another sip (clearly a conspiracy to make you want more!). As indicated by the rising bubbles, there is heavy carbonation present. While cold, citrus was the singular flavor present, making this beer seem far too simple, but as it warmed up, floral accents became more obvious, creating a more balanced flavour and aroma.
Overall, Ground Breaker Pale Ale is a decent approximation of a pale ale, but in its own class of gluten free, it is some of the best available. Remember, if you do drink this one, it will never taste like a regular pale ale, it is a different beast all-together and must be tasted as such.
Bright citrusy flavour shines through in this dry, refreshing beer. The aroma is sweeter than the flavor and quite pleasant.
Taste is simple and unbalanced with citrus overtaking the floral notes.
The bright lemon would do well with spicy foods, grilled meats, and tangy fruits.
Time of Year
With its dry, refreshing attributes, definitely meant for a hot summer day.
Rating 4/5 – based on its place in the realm of gluten-free beer