The Perth Brewery is taking advantage of increased interest in gluten-free products to spread the word about its gluten-reduced beer.
The beer is not gluten-free, as it includes ingredients with gluten, but it is gluten-reduced to the point where customers with severe allergies or sensitivities can drink it. Many consumers are even celiac.
Co-owner Jeremy Steeves, who operates the brewing company with his father and his father’s partner, said it is exciting to see a “large, healthy following” of customers who are adopting a gluten-free or gluten-reduced diet.
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Grains naturally contain gluten in varying amounts according to grain type, so traditionally brewed beer contains gluten. But at Perth Brewery, an enzyme is added during the fermentation process to reduce gluten protein levels.
That enzyme has been a part of the Perth Brewery process since the “early days” in the 1990s, but the brewery has not advertised or marketed its products as gluten-reduced. This is partly due to the stigma and misconceptions that gluten-reduced products compromise flavour, said Steeves.
“We really did hesitate to market it for a long time because we didn’t want people to have a misconception that our beer wouldn’t taste like traditional beer would,” explained Steeves. “But we are now in 2023 and we feel like there are a lot more people who have an understanding and an interest in gluten-reduced products and in their health overall.”
Mathieu Lafleur, 27, found Perth Brewery by “sheer coincidence” while Christmas shopping in the area in 2021. Lafleur has a serious allergy to gluten and he says he is now a loyal convert to Perth Brewery beer.
“It’s the only beer I drink,” he said. “It tastes like real beer … It’s really a quality product.”
Lafleur’s allergy is severe enough that it requires him to have cutting boards, strainers and a toaster separate from those of his partner to ensure there is no cross-contamination. He says he does not have any side effects from the Perth beers, unlike regular beer: “It’s like night and day.”
Customers like Lafleur can drink any of the beers from Perth Brewery. Lafleur’s favourites include the mocha stout and “Crandemonium” cranberry radler around the holidays and the calypso IPA in the summer, which is one of the brewery’s most popular beers.
Since finding Perth Brewery, Lafleur has introduced his dad, an avid beer-drinker, to the gluten-reduced products and said his whole family loves them. “Those cranberry radlers are a staple in the house now,” he said.
“The big thing for me is to be able to share a beer with my dad again without having to make him compromise on the taste of a gluten-sensitive beer,” said Lafleur.
“We would really like to make our customers aware of this, now that there is a growing interest in overall health and consumables,” Steeves said. “We also hope to attract new customers that might have these sensitivities and could benefit from our products.”
Steeves divides his time between the brewery at 121 Dufferin St. in Perth, which recently marked 30 years in business, and various sales and events opportunities. When he tells people that the beer is gluten-reduced, he said he gets a very excited reaction.
“I’ve had people tell me I’ve more or less saved their lives by giving them a beer that they can drink that actually tastes good,” he said.