These days, most followers of food culture have heard the word gluten used in a non-seitan context: There’s a growing number of people (chowhounds included) on gluten-free diets because their bodies are unable to process the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Now, as The Boston Globe reports, the recent introduction of a gluten-free beer by megabrewer Anheuser-Busch signals that the concept of gluten freedom is hitting the mainstream. And the market is projected to continue growing furiously over the next four years, reaching close to $2 billion in annual sales by the end of 2010.

The beer—wholesome-soundingly called Redbridge—contains the heritage grain sorghum instead of barley. So is it any good? As writer Keith O’Brien puts it,

The beer was no Guinness. The sorghum makes it just a tad sweet on the finish. But it was most definitely a beer. Smelled like it. Looked like it. And—to me, anyway—tasted like it.

Anyone here been able to get their hands on it yet? Any other mainstream gluten-free products caught your eye lately? Yours truly has done a bit of reporting on the topic in recent months, and I’ve been surprised to notice all the g-f labels popping up (Cheetos?). Still, some experts (like prolific g-f cookbook author Carol Fenster) say that many supposedly gluten-free foods may actually contain significant traces of the problem protein, since there are no labeling standard at the moment. In 2008, a labeling law will take effect to, um, separate the wheat from the chaff.

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