Why gluten-free beer matters

Keith O’Brien offers an explanation at Boston.com on why it makes a difference that Anheuser-Busch has brewed a gluten-free beer called Redbridge.

“I think it is the tipping point for people suffering from celiac disease, diagnosed and undiagnosed,” said Alice Bast, executive director of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. “The fact that Anheuser-Busch has taken such an interest, a lot of food companies – major food companies – are going to get into the marketplace. And maybe even some beer companies will get into the marketplace to compete against them.”

Several other breweries also brew beer that is gluten free, including St. Louis Brewery, producer of Schlafly beers. The brewery sells it only in its Bottleworks brewery-restaurant.

“We’re very founded on our local market,” said Schlafy vice president Dan Kopman. The brewery has strong ties to the local Slow Food movement, participating in events at both restaurants as well as elsewhere. Bottleworks also hosts a weekly growers market in season.

“We’ve had demand from local celiacs, and that’s why were doing this,” Kopman said. “I don’t see this as an area for small brewery to expand, to build our core business around sorghum beer.

“We are appealing to a segment of the population that wants to eat out and drink out and wants it to be gluten free.”

Nothing wrong with that.