Gluten-free brewery on the horizon

There may be a bright light in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas for beer lovers who suffer from a disease that makes the brew unpalatable for them.

Dark Hills Brewery, now in the formative stages near Fayetteville, AR, will be cooking up beer brewed from rice, with no glutenous grains that affect people suffering from celiac disease.

Say the organizers: "Soon, our Viking-themed brewery will be operational. We hope to open our doors -- and bottles -- by Fall 2007. Until then, feel free to send us an e-mail stating what cities you would like us to service. We plan to offer as many beer styles as possible from Lite to Dark, but will not allow wheat, rye, oats, or barley through our doors!"

Dark Hills was co-founded by president Connie Rieper-Estes and brewmaster Leigh Nogy. As Nogy said in an interview with a local newspaper, "Not all Americans can enjoy a ‘nice cold one’ on a hot summer day. Many are finding out they have inherited an autoimmune condition know as gluten intolerance, or celiac disease. The remedy is a lifelong diet free of wheat, oats, rye, and barley. The problem is that all traditional beers are made with at least one of these ingredients. So conventional beer is off limits to celiacs.”

While Dark Hills will specialize in gluten-free beer, there are several other breweries that make it as a sideline. While you're waiting for it to begin production you can check out the likes of Ramapo Valley Beer in Hillburn, north of New York City, which makes Passover Honey Beer, and Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee that makes New Grist Beer.

Passover Honey Beer contains neither barley nor any grain. It's brewed with honey, molasses, hops, kosher-certified yeast and water. New Grist, which notes it is the first beer brewed without malted barley or any gluten-containing products to be recognized as beer by the U.S. government, uses sorghum, hops, water, rice and gluten-free yeast grown on molasses.

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