I’ve had the privilege of knowing Ryan and Doug for years, back when they were just getting Pittsburgh-based Aurochs Brewing Company off the ground. They have a great founding story, a unique approach to beer, and have been growing the right way – organically and completely in-touch with their customers. I can’t lie to you – I was a bit skeptical about gluten-free beer at first but Aurochs has found a way to make it taste good. Check out the Aurochs Brewing story and let us know what you think!
Tell Us A Little Bit About How Aurochs Brewing Company Got Started
I got really sick after college (losing 30 pounds, heart problems, breathing problems, digestive issues). After six months of going to the doctor, I was diagnosed with a severe, gluten intolerance and had to start following a strict, gluten-free diet. My business partner, Doug Foster, has been celiac since early childhood. He was helping me transition to a gluten-free diet, and at the time, the gluten-free beer choices were very limited. We started to homebrew to solve this problem for ourselves. One thing led to another, and we took the leap to make it a full-time endeavor.
What Makes Aurochs Brewing Unique?
We brew great tasting craft beer that is naturally gluten-free. We set out to brew a beer that would be 100% gluten-free from start to finish but would have a taste that could be enjoyed whether or not you are gluten-free. We feel that we have accomplished this goal.
We also have a dedicated facility that is 100% gluten-free. Every ingredient gets tested for gluten levels to ensure no cross-contamination in the supply chain and no outside non-gluten free food is permitted. At the moment, everything we brew is made with millet and quinoa (although we are experimenting with some other gluten-free grains). There are only a handful of dedicated gluten-free breweries in the world, and for the most part they only distribute in their local area.
Where Can People Buy Aurochs Beer?
We sell pints, growlers, and tasters out of our tasting room at the brewery. We will do some limited keg sales to local accounts, and we will be packaging our beer in 22 oz. bottles to sell from the brewery as well as distribute outside the brewery towards the end of 2016.
We wanted to have a small tasting room so that we could interact directly with our consumers. This gives gluten-free consumers a chance to change how they experience beer. Beer is such a social experience, and it gives people a chance to try a variety of styles with friends, and family at the site at which it is brewed. We also offer tours, which provides insight into our unique brewing process.
Are There Any Special Packaging or Logistical Concerns With Gluten-Free Beer?
We will be very limited in distribution of kegs and will work closely with keg accounts to mitigate cross-contamination at the tap line. We are talking to a few accounts to bring draft, gluten-free beer to the Pittsburgh area.
We will primarily package our beer in 22 oz. bottles at the outset, but have visions of transitioning to other packaging formats in the future.
How Has The Local Craft Beer Community Supported and/or Influenced You?
The craft beer industry is amazing in that local brewers are very supportive of other local brewers. We have been very fortunate to get help from a lot of the local brewers including East End, Roundabout, Church Brew Works, North Country, Penn Brewery, and Rusty Gold.
Do You Guys Experiment With New Recipes and Beers? How Do You Develop New Beers?
Brewing gluten-free is like the wild west of brewing. You are really on the frontier of brewing. At this point, we have put about 4 years of R&D into our product and brewing processes. When we first got started, there was almost no information publicly available. That has changed quite a bit, but there is still a long way to go in terms of easily accessible information. When we first got started, you couldn’t even buy gluten-free malt. When we were home brewing, we were literally malting in my grad school apartment! Luckily, we now have a great supplier in Grouse Malting so I don’t have to get up in the middle of the night to stir the malt.
Is There Any Upcoming Big News About the Brewery?
We’re just in the process of re-opening and re-launching our brewery. We had been open in late 2014/early 2015 with a 0.5-barrel brewing system but we were running out of beer all the time, so we shut down to complete our current buildout. We re-opened in September 2016 and have a lot of new developments on the horizon. We will be building towards 8 styles on tap as well as launching keg accounts and bottling.
This May Be A Tough Question To Answer Given That You’re Gluten-Free But Tell Us About Some of Your Favorite Breweries
Being gluten-free, it is difficult to find other breweries beer that I am able to try. I have been fortunate to try two breweries beers when I was traveling and really enjoyed them both. I had a really good Watchstander Stout from Ghostfish Brewing Company out of Seattle. I also really enjoyed the IPA and Imperial Stout from Brasseurs Sans Gluten (Glutenberg) when I was traveling in Canada. They have not made it to Pittsburgh yet. There are a couple other gluten-free breweries I would like to try, but unfortunately do not get to travel as much as I would like. At the moment, most of the dedicated gluten-free breweries are local or regional.