Robert La France
The Campaign for Real Ale
(CAMRA), the key consumer group in the United Kingdom (UK)
dedicated to preserving and promoting traditional pubs, independent
breweries and real ale, sponsored the worlds first-ever
international Gluten-Free Beer Festival, held in Chesterfield
this past February. Over 130 different ales from the UK and
nearly 20 gluten-free and low-gluten beers from around the
world were featured.
gluten-free beers representing the United States included:
Lakefront Brewerys New Grist (brewed from sorghum) and
Ramapo Valley Brewerys Passover Honey Beer (which is
also kosher). Both beers were cited by the judging panel for
particular qualities, including excellence and originality
in their range of flavors, according to the judges. Other
gluten-free beers sampled from around the world included Greens,
Hambsharedcf1ns and Fine Ale Club from the UK, Koff and Laitilan
from Finland, Les Bières de la Nouvelle France from
Canada and OBrien from Australia. Unfortunately, additional
beers from the Netherlands, Australia, Italy and Austria did
not clear customs in time for the festival.
than 1,600 people attended the festival enjoying the diverse
selection of gluten-free and gluten containing beers. The
aim of the gluten-free component of the festival was to promote
awareness and provide a "good-news" story for celiacs
(spelled coeliac in Europe and other parts of the world).
According to Dr. Steve Ford, organizer of the gluten-free
festival and beer lover, "This is an example of celiacs
working together to socialize normally and avoid isolation
caused by their special dietary needs. It also represents
part of the return to a normal life."
Kim Koeller, president of
GlutenFree Passport and co-author of the pioneering book series
Lets Eat Out! Your Passport to Living Gluten and
Allergy Free, coordinated the US breweries involvement.
After traveling over 4,000 miles to help Dr, Ford run the
gluten-free beer festival bar, Kim noted "It was heart-warming
to see celiacs and their gluten tolerant friends and family
enjoying a pint of great gluten-free beer together in the
English pub tradition".
and Koeller, both celiacs, hope the event will return for
2007, now that CAMRAs expertise in running these types
of events can be tapped into during the planning process.
And with the expanded availability of other gluten-free beers
from U.S.-based brewers including Dragons Gold
from Bards Tale Beer Co. and others in development from
Park Ridge Brewery, TE Chestnuts and Schlalfly Bottleworks
to name a few there ultimately may be a chance of similar
"I think we are going
to be seeing some UK pubs lead the way in offering drafts
of gluten-free beer and ale. A festival like this is the first
step toward celebrating brews already available around the
world," notes Dr. Ford. Adds Kim Koeller, "were
just beginning to see some US bars and restaurants offer gluten-free
bottles and will continue to see this trend increase as continued
awareness grows with more products becoming available. We
also hope that similar events make their way to U.S. shores
to quench the thirsts of celiacs "on this side of the
for worldwide resources on gluten-free beers and www.glutenfreepassport.com
for eating out and travel ideas from the Lets Eat
Out! series, selected as 2006 Benjamin Franklin Award
finalist for Best Health,
Wellness and Nutrition Book and Best First Book, Non-Fiction.