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Opinions On Mongozo Gluten Free Beer?
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Hi everyone,

I was looking on my liquor store's website to find a new gluten free beer made by Mongozo. I don't have much experience with too many gluten free beers in Canada, but here is the link: http://www.mongozo.com/en/newsdetail?nid=163. Apparently it is made with barley malt (the way normal beer is made), and then the gluten is removed in the end, to produce a beer that is considered gluten-free (<10 ppm). They test it in a lab before selling the product and labelling it gluten-free.

I was just wondering how comfortable everyone here was with a beer that has had it's gluten removed? I'm not sure if I feel that comfortable with it as other gluten-free beers, but would like to try it. However, I don't know if I would ever feel 100% safe. Opinions?

Mike

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Hi everyone,

I was looking on my liquor store's website to find a new gluten free beer made by Mongozo. I don't have much experience with too many gluten free beers in Canada, but here is the link: http://www.mongozo.com/en/newsdetail?nid=163. Apparently it is made with barley malt (the way normal beer is made), and then the gluten is removed in the end, to produce a beer that is considered gluten-free (<10 ppm). They test it in a lab before selling the product and labelling it gluten-free.

I was just wondering how comfortable everyone here was with a beer that has had it's gluten removed? I'm not sure if I feel that comfortable with it as other gluten-free beers, but would like to try it. However, I don't know if I would ever feel 100% safe. Opinions?

Mike

Well, as you know it's all up to personal preference, but as long as it's being tested, and coming up at less than 10 ppm, I'd feel pretty safe. Obviously there are other dangers (the danger that their source ingredients are cross-contaminated from the supplier, or the danger that some kind of machinery flaw results in a bad batch that contains gluten), but then there are dangers with just about anything you eat or drink as a celiac.

For what it's worth, I just saw the Mongozo Premium Pilsner for the first time at the NSLC tonight, on clearance, and bought a bottle. I just finished it a few minutes before typing this. My non-celiac wife and I agree--this is not just a terrific-tasting gluten-free beer, but also a great-tasting beer, period. Really really good. I've had Redbridge and La Messagiere (ugh)...they can't hold a candle to this stuff. Not a horrible price either--about $3.60 after 15% tax for a single bottle.

If I don't come back and reply here within a day or two, you can safely assume that I had no adverse reaction :) If I do have a reaction I'll make sure to post here.

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Canadave, I have to disagree with you about Messagere beer.

http://www.lesbieresnouvellefrance.com/home

I think it is fantastic beer, the best I've enjoyed anywhere. Tastes differ, I guess. It wouldn't suit someone who prefers lager, I suspect. It almost replaces the English real ales I've grown to love living in the UK.

Messagere is available in many BC govt liquor stores (or ask them to bring it in), and in a few places I know of in Alberta, including the Metro pub in Edmonton. Obviously in PQ as well.

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OK, so, being curious, and nervous about drinking a beer that supposedly starts from malt (!), I finally decided to contact the company and get the straight information on Mongozo and gluten-free beer. I exchanged emails with Jan Fleurkens at Mongozo, who quite helpfully was able to answer questions about Mongozo products.

First off: The only TRULY, COMPLETELY, GUARANTEED BY THE COMPANY gluten-free beer that Mongozo offers is "Mongozo Premium Pilsner". This is the ONLY beer that is brewed gluten-free, in a separate installation from its gluten-containing beers. ALL other Mongozo beers either contain gluten, or are brewed in an installation where gluten is present and thus carry a risk of cross-contamination--and to their credit, Mongozo does not warrant those beers to be gluten-free. Again, to repeat, for safety's sake: the ONLY Mongozo beer that the company claims to be truly safe and gluten-free is "Premium Pilsner".

Now, on to the Premium Pilsner (I'll refer to it as "PP" for now). As noted earlier, it is brewed in a separate installation. It does start out containing gluten in the form of malt, which Mongozo says is removed by a manufacturing process to achieve the final product (although Jan politely declined to go into details about the process, I would imagine this is accomplished in a manner similar to the way that McDonalds starts with gluten in its french fries and removes it so that it is not detectable in the final product).

Mongozo brews PP in batches of 125 hectolitres (a hectolitre is 100 litres). Every time Mongozo brews a batch of PP, some is sent to be tested by an independent laboratory called "Nutrilab" in the Netherlands. The testing is done at three stages of a production run: at the 25th hectolitre, the 75th hectolitre, and the end of the run. The PP must be less than 10 parts per million (ppm) to pass the testing. The testing is an ELISA test. I'll see if I can attach a copy of a recent test which Jan was kind enough to send.

EDIT: Yep, here you go, the copy of a recent test:

Premium Pilsner gluten-free testing

Next: The following is the email conversation between me and Jan on the subject, so you can decide for yourselves. Read it from the bottom upwards to be in the correct chronological order.

Re: Premium Pilsner gluten questions

From: Mongozo BV <info@mongozo.com>

To: Dave

Dear Dave,

The primium pilsener is brewed in a seperate installation.

Best regards,

Jan Fleurkens.

------------

From: Dave

Sent: Thursday, January 13, 2011 6:34 PM

To: Mongozo BV

Subject: Re: Premium Pilsner gluten questions

No problem Jan, thanks for clearing that up--I'm only interested in the Premium Pilsner anyway, so that's fine :)

I take it the Premium Pilsner is also not brewed in a gluten-free installation?

Thank you for answering all my questions. I really do appreciate it greatly. Unfortunately, having celiac disease means having to be paranoid and ask a thousand questions before we can be truly sure something is safe. I see that you take great pride in having a gluten-free beer in your Premium Pilsner, and I'm glad to hear that you take the elimination of gluten from your product so seriously--believe me, that makes me feel a lot safer about drinking it on a consistent basis in the future.

cheers,

Dave

--------------

From: Mongozo BV <info@mongozo.com>

To: Dave

Sent: Thu, January 13, 2011 1:29:06 PM

Subject: Re: Premium Pilsner gluten questions

Dear Dave,

I never saw this information. Mongozo, the exotic beers, where never gluten free. I never ever gave this info. It is not on my webpage and nobody asked me and we never claimed it as a gluten free product.

The Mongozo quinua is another story. Quinua is gluten free. But we do not brew in a gluten free installation. We clean but we can not guaranty it. I never ever claimed this beer as a gluten free beer. Some custumers took this beer as a gluten free beer. They had no problems. It is at their own risk. I know the chance that it is gluten free is great but I want to be sure, 100 % sure before we say this. This is not even on our website.

Mongozo pilsener is another story. We break the gluten and filter the gluten (sorry, I can not give you the details) out the beer. I am sure that we have a gluten free pilsener. We introduced the beer only after several years of research.

Best regards,

Jan Fleurkens.

-------

From: Dave

Sent: Thursday, January 13, 2011 5:37 PM

To: Mongozo BV

Subject: Re: Premium Pilsner gluten questions

Hello Jan,

Thank you very much for your reply, and thank you very much for your understanding of my concern as someone with celiac disease.

I did in fact try the Premium Pilsner a couple of days ago (I couldn't resist the temptation), and it did taste quite good, so many congratulations on that score :)

So, I can assume from your response that Mongozo is very concerned with keeping its gluten-free beers safe for celiacs? I must tell you that the reason I wrote in the first place is that I've read that there is a possibility of cross-contamination with Mongozo beer. For instance, I read the following on this gluten-free beer website:

http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art30583.asp

"Mongozo Exotic Beers - Exotic Beers brewed in Belgium. Caution: Only one of the portfolio is made with Gluten Free ingredients, but may not be truly gluten free due to cross contamination.

Several Mongozo Beers were previously on the list of Gluten Free Beers, but have been removed due to confirmed information that they are not gluten free. These are: Mongozo Coconut, Mongozo Banana, Mongozo Mango, and Mongozo Palmnut.

Mongozo Quinua - Mongozo Beers, Netherlands - CAUTION! Although made with quinua, a bitter grain of Bolivia characteristically used to brew beers made in Africa and South America, there may be cross contamination due to processing. No testing of gluten levels is available."

Although you're saying you do testing, the cross-contamination issue is still a concern to me. What kind of things are done to make sure that cross-contamination is eliminated?

I'm also still puzzled about how you can start with gluten (malt) and remove it somehow. Is there any way you can elaborate on how this is done (without giving away any trade secrets of course!)

Thank you again,

Dave

--------

From: Mongozo BV <info@mongozo.com>

To: Dave

Sent: Thu, January 13, 2011 12:18:09 PM

Subject: Re: Premium Pilsner gluten questions

Dear Dave,

Thanks for your mail. I understand that you have to be sure. On every batch of 125 hecto. we do three times a test. At 25 hecto, 75 hecto and at the end. Nutrilab in the Netherlands do the test. I sent a test, no prblem. The organisation that grante the certification is the Dutch coeliakie organisation. We do not need to renew the certification for gluten free mark. But we have to show that we test every batch.

The pilsener was in a blind test the best Belgian pilsener, before Maes, Stella Artois etc. Will sent a article from a newspaper.

If you have any questions and/or remark let me know.

Best regards,

On behalf of Mongozo BV,

Jan Fleurkens.

--------

From: Dave

Sent: Saturday, January 08, 2011 2:17 AM

To: info@mongozo.com

Subject: Premium Pilsner gluten questions

Hi,

As someone who has coeliac disease, I have a couple of questions about Mongozo Premium Pilsner. I've read on your website the description of how the beer has gluten removed and is "tested by a reputable laboratory".

The fact that gluten is present at the beginning of the process is still worrisome to me. Can you elaborate a little bit on the details of how the testing is done to ensure that no gluten is present at the end? Is it just one small sample of beer per every 10 million bottles, or is every batch of beer tested?

Also, when you say that the beer is "certified gluten free", what organization has granted the certification? Do you need to renew your gluten-free certification periodically? If so, how often?

Thank you in advance—knowing the answers to these questions would make me feel more informed about whether or not to try your Pilsner, which looks really good by the way!

Thanks--

Dave

---------------------------------

I also asked Jan if they ran the testing on every batch, and this was his reply:

Yes we do. We only sell the beer to the market if we are 100 % sure. Batches are on the label so importers or supermarkets can check.

Best regards,

Jan Fleurkens.

One last thing to add--Jan also mentioned this:

"In blind tastings by professionals in the Netherlands and Belgium, Mongozo pilsener was even better than the well known brands as Heineken, Bavaria, Stella Artois, and Maes. The production is important but taste also. And...it is also organic and fairtrade labelled."

So, there you have it. That should be enough for everyone to make up their own minds about whether or not to drink the pilsner. Personally, having tried it already, I think it tastes fantastic, and now I feel more confident about continuing to drink it--but you'll all need to come to your own conclusions. At least we now have something to go on :)

--Dave

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i was told the only way to make alcohol safe was to be distilled. so doesnt that make it unsafe to drink any beer made with barley ,wheat ect... /

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