Just as the choice and availability of 'free from' food has transformed over the last 6 years, so has the industry's annual awards event, The Free From Food awards. The categories have increased and the number of entries for each categories has increased, but more importantly the quality of products entered has increased to the point where most judges' comments now say "I couldn't tell this was gluten free/dairy free etc".
I was lucky enough to attend the last two events, but had to miss out this year for a family wedding. I did however help judge one of the categories.
I chose the beer category because it would be gluten, dairy and egg free.
At the awards themselves I found the chattiest people around the beer table so I spent most of the evening there. It's not often that you get to try 10-15 different beers so this was a real treat.
In the past, I've not necessarily agreed with the judges choices in the beer category, so I really welcomed this chance to have a go at judging myself!
The judges were from all different backgrounds and I found it interesting to see what the brewers rated compared to the celiacs.
I really enjoyed a lemon beer for example but some dismissed it as 'not a beer at all'.
After much deliberation, a winner was decided and I was very happy with the decision to award Celia Premium Czech Lager with the best barley-based beer award.
I think you'll be seeing a lot of this beer around from now on. Come on restaurants, get buying!
See all of this year's winners here.