Gluten Free Convos: Best Gluten Free Beers
There is a common expression that ‘a rising tide raises all ships’ and we absolutely believe that to be true here at Aurochs Brewing Company. In an effort to better support the growing community of people who follow a gluten free diet, we are publishing a series of posts with some people who have been making a positive impact for those who are required to follow a gluten free diet.
We do not have any fiduciary interest or connection with any of people or groups who are making a positive impact, creating new products or spreading awareness in an effort to improve the gluten free landscape.
We just think they are great and hope you check them out.
In our second installment, we spoke with Lindsi from Best Gluten Free Beers. Operating a forum that is truly the best of its kind, Lindsi maintains a complete and thorough list of gluten free beer offerings, along with thoughtfully written reviews, home brew recipes and other great information.
ABC: Do you follow a gluten free diet?
BGFB: I do follow a strict gluten free diet. No exceptions. No cheating. Ever. When I was 15 years old, I began to get really sick. Unbearable neck tension, chronic depression, migraines, poor sleep, a constantly compromised immune system...the list goes on. This was my life for 7 years. Let me repeat, I had a migraine EVERY day for 7 years.
I saw doctors. I saw physical therapists. I saw orthopedic surgeons. I had MRIs. I had Xrays. My physical therapists couldn’t get anywhere with me. They recommended I take several doses of Ibuprofen a day. When my teenage self asked if that was healthy, they shrugged and said it was fine. My orthopedic surgeon ran every test he could think of and at the end of his assessment, shrugged and told me “Maybe it will disappear with age?” Not a single medical professional EVER asked me what I ate. It never occured to any of them to question my diet, or any allergen for that matter.
When I was in college, I met a friend who exposed me to the world of food allergies. She taught me that food sensitivities didn’t just mean rashes and anaphylactic shock. She taught me that they could manifest as migraines, muscle inflammation and depression. I did more research and came to the conclusion that I was probably--at the very least--gluten intolerant. The blood-allergy test I knew I needed was “experimental” and not covered by my insurance. It took me another year to shell out the cash for the test, and when I was ready, my allergist tried to steer me away from it. He said it wasn’t hard science. I told him to order the test. He did.
When it came back, he told me that he didn’t know how to read it. I asked him to fax it to me, and told him I’d read it myself. (It’s simple bar charts, but with a qualitative presentation, not a quantitative one.) My grain columns were off the charts. It was clear to me that I was having a negative reaction to most grains, and just like that, I made the decision to go cold turkey on my gluten consumption (and dairy too).
Within 30 days I was a completely different human. My migraines vanished, I stopped getting sick all the time, I became more emotionally and mentally stable, and for the first time in 7 years, I wasn’t suffering daily from chronic pain.
ABC: So, how long have you been following a gluten free diet?
BGFB: I was 22 when I took that allergen test and cut out gluten completely. I never went back. (And never will.) I’ll be 31 this year. Going on 9 years gluten free.
ABC: You were a huge craft beer fan and even a home brewer prior to your necessary dietary overhaul. On your website you talk about what we like to call your ‘loved and lost’ experience. How did you feel when you realized you couldn’t enjoy the barley based beers you loved? How did you feel when you found great tasting, gluten free beer?
BGFB: I was heartbroken about my loss of craft beer. Back then, there was no gluten free beer available. When it did start to appear in stores, it was horrible--imported from Europe and gluten reduced. I switched to wine.
A few years went by before I found Ground Breaker Brewing (Harvester Brewing at the time). I remember finding a 22 oz. bomber in a local store, snatching it up, and running home to show my roommate, who was also gluten free. I honestly can’t remember if it was their IPA or their Dark Ale, but the second I tasted it, I was in heaven. The drought was over. I was both elated and inspired to share its existence with others. Specifically, other gluten free craft beer enthusiasts like me. That was the beginning of BestGlutenFreeBeers.com.
ABC: What is the the purpose of BestGlutenFreeBeers.com?
BGFB: Best Gluten Free Beers exists to create connection, education, and collaboration within the gluten free beer community.
This blog is all about spreading the love (and awareness) of gluten free beer to those who are desperately seeking it. I publish gluten free beer brand lists, beer reviews, brewery tours, interviews, lifestyle articles, and write about the difference between gluten free and gluten reduced beer. There is also an entire section of the blog dedicated to gluten free homebrewing, for those who are tired of waiting and want to brew their own. (There is a free recipe and step-by-step guide available for download.)
ABC: What is it about beer that you love?
BGFB: I grew up in Bend, Oregon. Craft beer is part of our culture. A culture I was excluded from when I went gluten free. (By the way, despite being a craft beer capital of the country, Bend STILL doesn’t have a gluten free brewery. Anyone want to start one?)
ABC: Is there something special or different about the gluten free beer community compared to barley based beer purveyors?
BGFB: Gluten free beer consumers don’t take variety and access for granted... ever. Even now, with more gluten free breweries popping up each day, our options are still incredibly limited relative to a regular beer drinker’s. To this day, many beer lovers across the country don’t have access to any gluten free beers whatsoever. I know this because of the regular feedback I receive through the blog. I’m very privileged to live in the Pacific Northwest, which is home to about half of the total dedicated gluten free breweries in the USA.
ABC: Highlight some of your favorite beer styles, favorite beer attributes, favorite beers, favorite anything...
BGFB: I am an IPA fanatic. The more bitter and hoppy, the better. I also love American stouts, sours and Pacific Northwest pales (because they often drink like IPAs). That being said, over the past few years I’ve cultivated a deep appreciation for several styles I used to shrug off, like gluten free witbiers and blonde ales.
ABC: Have you noticed any trends in gluten free beer?
BGFB: There’s certainly a trend towards cans these days. Most breweries have ditched their glass bottle packaging, in favor of 12 or 16 ounce cans. I wouldn’t classify this as a “gluten free” trend, so much as a craft beer trend. It’s everywhere, gluten free or not.
ABC: Is there anything industry related that you are looking forward to?
BGFB: I am looking forward to MORE dedicated gluten free breweries opening up in the midwest, south and on the east coast. I feel for my readers in those parts of the country who painfully scan my blog because they don’t have access to anything at all where they live.
BGFB: I spend the most time on my blog and accompanying Patreon. (Patrons get access to exclusive and behind-the-scenes content.) I’m also very present on the Best Gluten Free Beers Facebook and Instagram. I’m certainly on all the other social platforms, but if you want to connect with me directly, it’s best to find me on the 4 aforementioned networks.
ABC: How can the gluten free beer community support you at Best Gluten Free Beers?
BGFB: Share, share, share! Share my blog’s resources with those who could benefit from them. Invite your gluten free friends and family to join our Facebook and Instagram communities. Best Gluten Free Beers, at its heart, is simply a community of like-minded (and like-diet) beer enthusiasts who are looking to revive their passion for craft beer. I’m here to bring us together.
Want to take it one step further? Become a Best Gluten Free Beers Patreon! I can’t emphasize enough how important my Patrons are to the continued growth of this gluten free resource. I have poured 4 years of time, energy, and financial resources into building this community, and to this day, I have not succumbed to the pressure to paste advertisements all over my blog. I want the blog to be powered by readers, not by advertisers.
This gluten free resource has been built from my own pocket and (not so) free time. It’s reached the point of a part-time job that’s screaming for full-time effort. Readers have the power to make that happen. You can become a Patreon for as little as $1/month, but there are several tiers to explore with different associated perks. Perks include behind-the-scenes videos, patron-exclusive beer reviews, brewmaster Q + As, sneak peaks, homebrewing how-to videos, brewery tours, and so much more.
ABC: What is next for you and BGFB?
BGFB: I want to release a gluten free beer brand list for every country! (BestGlutenFreeBeers.com has a worldwide readership.) I want to put out beer reviews more than once a week. I want to keep current resources updated and release so much more of this behind-the-scenes content I have built up. I want to keep educating gluten free beer lovers about their options, and I want to keep pressuring retailers to improve access to truly gluten free beers, and properly labeling those that are not.
What it comes down to is this...
I’m ready to make Best Gluten Free Beers a full-time venture. I have so much information and content to share with all of you, but my time to share it is limited by my day job. (For those of you interested, I am a full-time aerial/acrobatics/yoga/dance teacher.) I’m dying to pour more time into Best Gluten Free Beers, but I don’t want to sell out to advertisers, which is why I’ve turned to Patreon to make this vision a reality.
Want to know where you can dive into all things Best Gluten Free Beers? We will provide links at the bottom of the page. Do you like what you read and want to know how you can support Best Gluten Free Beers?
Looking for a great place to start? Here is a cultivated list of some of the BGFB Blog’s most popular resources...
- 2019 Gluten Free Beer Brand List: http://www.bestglutenfreebeers.com/gluten-free-beer-brands-2015-list/
- 12 Dedicated Gluten Free Breweries: http://www.bestglutenfreebeers.com/5-dedicated-gluten-free-breweries-us/
- Gluten Free vs. Gluten Reduced: http://www.bestglutenfreebeers.com/gluten-free-vs-gluten-reduced-heres-the-deal/
- Gluten Free Brewery Tours: http://www.bestglutenfreebeers.com/gluten-free-brewery-tours/
We would like to thank you for reading and would like to thank Lindsi for her time and insight.
Doug & Ryan
Facebook: @bestglutenfreebeers www.facebook.com/bestglutenfreebeers
Instagram: @glutenfreebeers www.instagram.com/glutenfreebeers