Reposted with permission from author Lindsi Cagan (first published at www.bestglutenfreebeers.com)
When our founder Richard Jeffares travelled to America in 2017, he discovered a whole new world of gluten free beer. After sampling his first tasting paddle at Ghostfish Brewery, he phoned his wife to discuss opening a dedicated gluten free brewery and taproom in Australia. The article below should provide a sense of why Richard – a diagnosed Coeliac and craft beer lover – was inspired in a big way.
100% Gluten Free – 100% Safe For Celiacs
The gluten free beer market is growing quickly, and in all the bustle – it’s easy to get confused about your options. To straighten it all out, let’s look at 3 different categories of production.
- Gluten Reduced Beers – Originally brewed with gluten, but then *most of it is removed later utilizing an enzyme process. Sometimes marketed as “gluten free”, but this is slightly misleading. (N.B. While there are a few ‘gluten reduced’ beers available in Australia, there is no actual threshold to define ‘gluten reduced’.)
- Gluten Free Beers – Beer that are brewed from 100% gluten free ingredients, suggesting that the gluten content of the brew is zero.
- Gluten Free Beers Brewed in a Dedicated Gluten Free Facility – A facility which handles zero gluten and produces zero glutenous products. Safest for Celiacs, as the possibility of cross-contamination does not exist.
What Does It Mean To Be A “Dedicated Gluten Free Brewery”?
Breweries that are 100% gluten free are ideal for any Celiac. They maintain facilities that are free of contaminants and cross-contamination because they don’t produce any products that contain gluten. This sets them apart from average breweries that offer both regular and gluten free options because their equipment is not shared with other products that might make us sick. Many (if not most) of the gluten free beers on the market today come from breweries that produce both glutenous and gluten free beers.
Whether equipment is shared or not, those facilities are handling and brewing with our allergen. The possibility of exposure via cross-contamination can be much higher in these facilities. I’d be willing to bet that most breweries are very careful to avoid this type of unintended exposure, but the only way to know for sure is to buy beer produced in breweries that are 100% gluten free, from start-to-finish. I have put together a quick list of U.S. breweries that dedicate all of their facility–including their equipment, to gluten free production.
Aurochs Brewing Co.
Finally! An east coast brewery that is 100% gluten free! I myself have not had the pleasure of trying their beers, but I hear very good things. This brewery was founded by 2 long time friends, Ryan and Doug, both of whom are gluten free by medical necessity. Their beers are brewed from ancient gluten free grains, and their brewery is located on the Ohio River just outside of Pittsburgh.
Aurochs Brewing, named after a legendary beast which once roamed free thousands of years ago, seeks to provide the same freedom the aurochs once had, for gluten free beer drinkers. They take pride in their dynamic and diverse range of beers and last I checked, they had no less than 9 gluten free ales available. This includes a couple really tough categories, including a hefeweizen, a witbier, and a dark ale!
Burning Brothers Brewing
St. Paul, Minnesota
I haven’t been to this brewery yet, but there aren’t many 100% GF midwest breweries out there, and Burning Brothers is one of them. This brewery is a few years old, founded by 2 brothers, Dane and Thom. I absolutely adore their tagline “Don’t fear the beer”.
They have a taproom you can visit and sample their full fleet of gluten free offerings, or you can look to their website to check their distribution network. You can find their beer as far west as Nevada, and as far east as Wisconsin. Their regular offerings include a Pale Ale, a Strong Coffee Ale, and an IPA. Read gluten free beer reviews of these ales here.
Ground Breaker Brewing
Ground Breaker Brewing is one of two breweries located in Portland, Oregon that are 100% gluten free dedicated. They offer a number of delicious high quality craft brews that cover the full spectrum of light to dark ales. Their beers are fantastic, and make you forget that you are drinking gluten free beer. They utilize chestnuts and lentils in their recipes, which sets them apart from every other brewery on this list.
They also have a brew pub in Portland that serves exclusively gluten free food, making it quite the destination for any Celiac who happens to be visiting Portland. (Although, to be honest…their beer is so good, it’s worth making a special trip…especially since you can double-up and visit Moonshrimp Brewing as well!) Watch the Ground Breaker brew tour teaser to learn more about their brewing methods and get a behind-the-scenes look at their brewhouse. You can also find a review for just about every Ground Breaker beer here.
Ghostfish Brewing Company
Another favorite of mine, Ghostfish Brewing makes some fantastic brews out of Seattle Washington. Like Ground Breaker, they have a hopping brew pub with delicious food safe for Celiacs. I haven’t tried all of their ales, but I have reviewed their Pale Ale and their Imperial IPA. Both excellent. They maintain 6 year-round offerings currently, in addition to their limited-release seasonals. Occasional they have small-batch releases as well, and be sure to check out their brew pub for their tap-exclusives. (The perks of living in Seattle…)
I recently published a brewery tour teaser for Ghostfish, which will give you an inside look at their brewhouse if you’re interested. The beers I’ve tried so far were big and flavorful–just the way I like them. I can’t wait to see what else this brewery comes up with in the coming years. Pay them a visit if you’re nearby! Read more Ghostfish Brewing beer reviews here.
Moonshrimp Brewing is another great option that is committed to producing 100% gluten free beer in a dedicated facility. They don’t have a brew pub yet, but you can buy their beers in stores around the Pacific Northwest, and if you happen to be in Portland, you can even purchase it directly from the brewery via their drive up beer window! (It’s adorable, by the way.) Check out their website to see when the beer window is open for business.
I took a tour of this brewery when I was in town last, and it was a lot of fun. The facility is filled with quirky (and hilarious) elements that really give you a feel for how passionate they are about their offerings. Moonshrimp Brewing currently offers 3 year-round brews, and has seasonal releases as well. Read up on some Moonshrimp Brewing reviews here.
Holidaily Brewing Co.
I haven’t yet gotten my hands on any Holidaily brews, but the reader’s feedback pouring into BestGlutenFreeBeers.com has been immensely positive. They are another fantastic option for Celiacs as they only deal in gluten free. If you happen to be located in Colorado, check out their taproom or look out for their (canned) beers in stores near you. I believe their current distribution network is limited to Colorado at the moment, but keep checking in with them as they expand.
Their website currently lists 9 different ales on tap, with ABVs as high as 10% in their Double IPA. They’re currently canning their flagship ale, the Grandpa’s Favorite Blonde Ale, as well as their Buckwit Belgian and Fat Randy’s IPA. We had a reader write a guest taproom review for Holidaily Brewing! You can read that here.
Founded by Trevor and Maureen Easton, Alt Brew is a Wisconsin-based brewery that is completely gluten free. Their mission is simple. To brew gluten free beer that tastes good. When Maureen was diagnosed with Celiac disease in 2008, her husband Trevor decided to give gluten free home brewing a shot. By 2014, Alt Brew was commercially available in the Madison Wisconsin area, and by 2015 they had opened a gluten free taproom as well.
A quick look at the Alt Brew beer finder tells me that their beers are still only available in Wisconsin, but their availability has spread to other parts of the state. They currently bottle their Farmhouse Ale, Hollywood Nights Blonde IPA, Copperhead Copper Ale, and Kickback Kolsch. (The Kolsch is sold in 12 oz. bottles. The others are available in 22 oz.) If you want to read our gluten free beer review for Alt Brew, ask them to send us some samples! They don’t distribute outside of the state yet, so we don’t have access to their brews here.
Oregon seems to be leading the way in the gluten free craft beer movement, seeing as there are now 4 dedicated gluten free breweries in this state alone! One of the newer additions is Evasion Brewing, a family-owned brewery based in McMinnville Oregon.
To be honest, I don’t know a whole lot about this brewery yet, except that they recently started bottling (Love the simplicity of their label, by the way!) and distributing locally. Check back in a few days and I’ll have this section updated with a little more information. ;)
Bierely Brewing was officially born in 2016, but it took some time to get them on this list because for awhile, you could only obtain their beer on draft locally. My only exposure to them last year was when I found them on tap at Ground Breaker when visiting Portland. The good news is, they are finally available in bottle too!
This small family brewery was founded by JP Bierly, a long time home brewer who began to dabble in crafting high quality gluten free beers for his wife, who has Celiac Disease. Ironically, several years later, JP himself was diagnosed with gluten intolerance. The growing popularity of his brews among friends and family was an entrepreneurial catalyst for taking his craft beer commercial.
Rolling Mill Brewing Company
Another newbie to add to this list is a midwest brewery called Rolling Mill Brewing, founded by Josh and Megan Laubach. This dedicated gluten free brewery is based in Middletown Ohio, and has a taproom in the heart of the industrial district. Since his Celiac Disease diagnosis in 2011, Josh and his wife have committed themselves to brewing high quality gluten free beer while renewing an important piece of Middletown’s industrial legacy.
Rolling Mill Brewing is the first dedicated gluten free brewery in Ohio. The brewery is still in its early phases, so you may have to visit in person to try their beer, but I decided to add them to the list because gluten free breweries are so rare in that part of the country. But if you happen to be in Ohio, or in a neighboring state, go check them out and let me know what you think! They told me they are working towards bottling and distribution as well, so keep your eyes out for updates.