Calgary

Gluten-free no longer means beer-free at new Calgary brewery

Calgary's first gluten-free brewery opened this weekend, featuring beer made without wheat or barley so people with celiac disease can enjoy a pint or two.

Founders say Heathen's Brewing is Canada's only gluten-free brewery west of Montreal

Co-founder Jeff Silzer says his brewery is the only gluten-free one west of Montreal. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

Calgarians who suffer from celiac disease or a gluten intolerance now have a way to enjoy something they may have assumed wasn't in the cards — a trip to a local craft brew house.

Heathen's Brewing, a gluten-free brewery, opened in Calgary this past weekend. 

Co-founders Wes Maxwell and Jeff Silzer had a basic and understandable reason for opening the brewery.

"I had some family members that were celiac and missed drinking beer," said Maxwell.

Several gluten-free beers are ready to enjoy at Heathen's Brewing. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

Some of the key ingredients in beer — wheat and barley — can't be safely consumed by those with celiac disease. And while many foods come in gluten-free varieties, Silzer said beer is not always available in a palatable form.

"We worked on the flavours to make sure it tasted like it wasn't a gluten-free beer," said Silzer. The co-founder also said Heathen's is the only gluten-free brewery in Canada located west of Montreal.

Wes Maxwell is a co-founder of gluten-free Heathen's Brewing. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

The founders hope the new brewery will give people who can't risk consuming gluten somewhere to go where they can safely "enjoy a beer that they actually enjoy," as Maxwell put it.

"[They can] partake in that activity that maybe they haven't been able to do for a while after being diagnosed," said Maxwell.

A staffer fills a growler with gluten-free beer at Heathen's Brewing in Calgary. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

For now, the beer is only available at the Heathen's Brewing tap room in the north-east of Calgary.

Canning the beer for sale at liquor stores is planned for later this summer, according to both co-founders.

With files from Justin Pennell

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.