Gluten Free Convos: Gluten Dude
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.
So with that said, we spoke with Gluten Dude, an honest and outspoken voice online advocating for celiac safe, gluten free diet options and providing a forum for people to share their personal experiences with celiac disease.
Do you follow a gluten free diet?
Heck yeah. I was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2008. One year after a bladder cancer diagnosis and 6 months before blood clots in my lungs. Good times.
How long have you been following a gluten free diet? Would you like to share anything about your diagnosis or diagnosis process?
Since the very day I was diagnosed. Once diagnosed, I never looked back. Well…I looked back plenty but have not had gluten intentionally since.
My main symptoms consisted mostly of constant stomach pains. Every night, I’d lie in bed complaining that my stomach hurt. And every night, Mrs. Dude (my lovely wife) would implore me to go to the doctor. And every night, I’d say “Oh…I’m fine”. But after about a year of this, and losing 15 pounds on an already pretty slim frame, I decided to go to a recommended GI in Princeton, NJ.
Being the organized soul that I am, I kept a food journal for a week before my appointment. What did it consist of? A bagel here and there; a few bowls of pasta; a few beers. I thought I was being pretty healthy. The doctor took one look at my journal and my symptoms and asked me if I had ever heard of Celiac disease. I had not. He said that I need to get tested ASAP.
The blood work came back first and he said they were the highest numbers he’d ever seen. He told me this as I was on the table about to get my endoscopy. So before I was put under, I pretty much knew. When I awoke, he said the villi in my intestine were pretty much gone and I indeed had Celiac disease…quite badly.
And so my journey began…
What is the origin of Gluten Dude?
I started my blog in October of 2011. Previous to my launch, I followed a lot of other gluten-free bloggers and I just felt there was a space that needed to be filled.
There were, and still are, many wonderful, talented bloggers in the celiac community. But many of them focused on the gluten-free diet aspect of the disease via recipes, etc. And a lot of them also said once they went gluten-free, they felt great. That was not my experience.
So I wanted to be a voice that said “Hey, you know what…celiac isn’t all sunshine and rainbows…here’s all the crap we have to deal with…let’s share our stories…and make the journey together.”
And the fact that I was one of the first male voices speaking out in the celiac community put a different touch on it.
What was your relationship with beer prior to diagnosis?
As a kid, my dad would drink Black Label beer (too often as it turned out…RIP) and would offer my brothers and I sips. I thought it was “cool” that I was drinking “Dad’s drink” but I had no idea what alcohol was…and it tasted horrendous.
High school and college were typical of a lot of people my age at the time. Get beer as cheaply as possible. Ah…the memories (from what I remember.)
Into my adulthood, I started to appreciate higher quality beers. This is when the microbrews really started to make a dent in the market. I just loved trying new beers.
What is your relationship with beer or alcohol now?
We’re very close. Just kidding. When I was first diagnosed, the only option was Red Bridge. I tried it once. Only once. Then New Planet came out (when they ONLY produced gluten-FREE beer). It was an improvement for sure. And then slowly but surely, other brews started coming out. And while it’s fantastic to have a selection now, the problem is that they are impossible to find. So I am hopeful my favorite brewmasters find success so they can increase their distribution.
And I love to sip on a nice tequila here and there.
What do you love or what do you look for in a beer?
Pretty simple: taste and quality. Now it’s been 10 years since my last “normal” beer so while I may forget what a non gluten-free Double IPA exactly tastes like, I like to think I have a good palette when it comes to quality beer. And when I share it with my non-celiac friends and their reaction is shock that it’s so good, that’s when I know the beer is well made.
Can you walk us through your cognitive checklist or process when trying or purchasing a new product? Patronizing a new establishment?
I’m not sure if you are talking in general, or regarding beer, but it’s a feeling I get whether the brand can be trusted. Making food/beer on shared equipment? Not a chance. Sold out and produce a shitty product? Nope. And yes I’m looking at you Udi’s. Regarding restaurants, the smaller and more intimate, the better. I will never eat in a chain restaurant. Too many risks.
As a consumer and as a human being how would you prioritize what is important for you in a gluten free product or company?
I totally understand all businesses are started to make money. It’s when profit becomes more important than safety measures and/or quality that I have no patience for. If you take care of the celiac/GF community, they will take care of you.
Have you noticed any trends in gluten free beer?
1) More and more gluten-REMOVED beers on the market and usually promoted as gluten-free. I can’t tell you how many restaurants and stores only carry Omission or Daura, thinking they are offering a gluten-free option. Drives. Me. Crazy.
2) The quality of the true gluten-free beers seem to get better and better each year, with some real innovative options/flavors as well.
Is there anything industry related that you are looking forward to?
As mentioned above, just more availability in more locations.
You are vocal about the difference between gluten free and gluten reduced beers. Why is that differentiation important to you?
One is safe. One is not. There have been multiple scientific tests done showing that methods used to theoretically remove gluten in gluten-reduced beers do not remove all of the gluten; some pieces may be left behind. And there have been gluten-reduced beer that has been recalled due to…wait for it…too much gluten.
I think it’s a crime that the companies can get away with it and yet still market to the celiac community.
You don’t sell ad space. Why is that important?
Authenticity. I have never been about the brands. And I think once you start taking money from certain brands, it’s hard to remain completely true to yourself. I played with the idea a few years ago and actually had some ads. But my blogging style is brutal honesty, and many companies choose not to be associated with that. I also call out companies that I don’t think have our best interest in heart. So the experiment lasted only a few months.
In the 8 years I’ve had my blog, I’ve received over 9 million page views. So yeah…that’s a lot of money I could have had.
What is next for you?
I’m gonna grab a beer. Besides that, my app will be coming out this coming Fall. And I also run 3 small businesses. So a vacation would be nice this winter.
Want to know where you can find Gluten Dude? We will provide links at the bottom of the page. Do you like what you read and want to know how you can support Gluten Dude or maybe you agree with his point of view and want to take action?
Here is a good place to start…
How can the gluten free beer community support you Gluten Dude?
1. Stop buying gluten-reduced beer.
2. Stop saying beers like Corona and Bud Light are safe for those with celiac disease. They are not.
3. Support the brewers that are doing it right.
4. I’ve got a book on Amazon that has helped thousands of my fellow celiacs. If you are looking for guidance, it can help you.
Here is the link: https://www.amazon.com/Crappy-Happy-Living-Celiac-Disease/dp/1974424642
5. I am in the process of building a mobile app specifically for the gluten-free community. One of the features will be how to find a gluten-free beer in your area. Since the app will cost a lot of money to build, I will be crowdfunding it and would love the support from the community.
We would like to thank you for reading and would like to thank Gluten Dude for his time and insight.
Doug & Ryan