Why make should breweries begin brewing craft gluten-free beer? Read more to find out!
The variety of beers available at pubs and restaurants expands every month. Many places not only carry different types of beer but also specialty beers made out of special ingredients. A wide selection of beers satisfies the palates of a wider variety of customers. Not every customer wants the same thing. Some customers wish to balance going out to eat with their healthy living choices. Gluten-free beer falls under this category, thanks to a growing awareness of dietary restrictions. Some restaurants now carry gluten-free beer to court these new diners and drinkers.
Why would you go gluten-free?
A rise in gluten-related disorders means more people are susceptible to damaging symptoms when consuming foods with gluten. Gluten is commonly found in common cereal grains, such as wheat and barley. These are often the same grains brewers use, which means people suffering from issues like celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity can’t enjoy the craft beer revolution as much as the rest of the public. Advances in brewing and ingredients have allowed brewmasters to serve this audience by offering new beers with the same tastes but without the awful side effects.
The Paleo Diet, as it’s popularly known, is a diet focused on eating only foods available to our earliest ancestors. Allowed foods include meats, nuts and berries, while this diet excludes foods requiring processing to create, including dairy and grains. Paleo followers believe modern processed foods have outpaced the human body’s ability to adapt and thus, have led to the rise in diseases such as obesity and heart disease. Gluten-free beers may have only been around for a few years, but they can still appeal to customers on this diet. They can “cheat” guilt-free when out with friends with a gluten-free brew or even celebrate hitting a particular fitness milestone without undoing some of their hard work.
Skipping gluten also became an increasingly common choice for people looking to adjust their diets outside of medical issues or diet programs. This process triggered a revolution across the food and beverage industry. Gluten-free foods have found a successful market outside the usual health-food marketplace. Gluten-free products are in demand and smart businesses are coming up with product lines to meet that demand. Restaurants considering crafting or incorporating a gluten-free brew would be wise to adjust their menus to offer some food to go along with it.
What does gluten-free really mean?
There are zero beers currently on the market that are completely free of gluten. Most beers that claim the title use non-traditional cereals, such as rice, corn, millet, sorghum or buckwheat. These cereals don’t trigger reactions in consumers with sensitivity, so they call themselves gluten-free. Other brews may be crafted with reduced gluten levels by carefully using barley or rye in low, controlled levels. Most breweries looking to make something for this market will want to go as low as possible for their initial brew to attract customers with medical conditions. It’s easier to adjust upwards for taste, cost and other elements of a good beer recipe.
Brews can call themselves “gluten-free” (GF) in the US or European Union if they possess less than 20ppm (parts per million) gluten. These brews not only need to be tested for glutens in every batch to keep their certification, but they also require separate equipment to avoid contamination by other products. This could be a mistake for a new brewery or restaurant looking to expand too quickly. Facilities with extra vats, lines and other equipment that can be spared are a better fit for a new gluten-free brew. Otherwise, the extra time needed for experimentation and maintenance can put the squeeze on any successful beers your restaurant has already rolled out.
But if you want the benefit of having a GF beer option available, you can also source gluten-free brews from existing craft breweries already dedicated to the GF production process. We’re big fans of the gluten-free beer that paved the way for all others – Lakefront Brewery’s New Grist – the very first beer to be granted approval to use the “Certified GF” label in the US.
Creators of some products that weren’t made to be gluten-free but fall under the GF certification recommendations have capitalized on their luck. Corona, which uses rice and corn in its recipe, naturally appeals to gluten-free consumers. Brewers looking for a head start on a recipe might want to look at their audience.
Gluten-free beers have also received a lot of coverage in fitness magazines. The public tends to think of losing weight and changing diets in the beginning of a New Year because of a combination of overindulgence during the holidays and the feeling that they need to stick to their New Year’s resolutions. These dark winter months are slow for many restaurants, so it’s an excellent time to try out something new and exotic.
There are a lot of gluten-free products in the marketplace. Gluten-free beers are an option for those restaurants looking to capitalize on healthier trends. Making celiac victims aware of GF options on your menu ensures your restaurant can offer an attractive option for both people with celiac disease and people who choose to live gluten-free. Any brew with 20 ppm or less can officially be sold under a gluten-free label. Special precautions must be taken to keep that number low. Either new equipment should be procured to keep brews free and clear, or experiments during slower periods are the way forward. Cheers!
Featured image “Gluten free beer” courtesy of Flickr user Blondinrikard Fröberg licensed under CC by 2.0.
Image “Gluten-Free beer grains…” courtesy of Flickr user FoodCraftLab licensed under CC by 2.0.
Image “gluten free beer : san francisco” courtesy of Flickr user torbakhopper licensed under CC by 2.0.