I don't have celiac disease , and I'm not gluten-intolerant. But I'm here to tell you, as a foodie Southern girl attached to pasta, pizza, gourmet grilled cheese sandies, and biscuits and gravy, I find myself lighter and more energetic when I cut gluten from my diet.
Excited with the concept of not feeling bloated after enjoying beer, I approached Duck Foot with a welcoming palate, despite my own experiences with not-so-good gluten-reduced brews.
Introduced through mutual friends, owners Brett Goldstock and Matt DelVecchio met four years ago, each aiming to open his own brewery. Goldstock, an accomplished homebrewer, BJCP judge, and competition winner, and DelVecchio, a brewer, world beer traveler, artist and student at UC Davis, had an instant synergy. But DelVecchio has had to face some hard-hitting news: celiac disease, which forever changed his life and brewing. It took some time for Goldstock to change his own course of brewing.
One year later, they have successfully brough a new type of craft beer to San Diego without compromising the quality locals expect. In fact, you'd never know the beers are any different by taste alone.
So how are they doing it? I sat down with Goldstock and DelVecchio over their tasty brews to find out:
Q: Everyone wants to know, what's the process?
DelVecchio: We make it like any other beer, but we use an enzyme in the fermentation process. It chops up the protein (which the body attacks in those with celiac), makes it unidentifiable, and the body sees it as nutrition rather than as an invader.
Q: How do you ensure quality?
DelVecchio: At the end of the fermentation process, we take a sample, take it to lab, and test it. Every batch we make, we taste, we take it the whole way. A couple of batches we have thrown out, and that's our choice, it's not a law, but we want a safe environment for our customers.
Q: What ingredients do you use?
Goldstock: We use real, traditional beer ingredients, like wheat and barley, instead of sorghum and rice, which don't taste very good.
Q: How is the beer labeled and classified?
DelVecchio: Our labels read "Reduced Gluten." Most examples test below 20 ppm (parts per million) of the protein, while ours tests below 10 ppm. We do a lot of work and due diligence, following protocol to make sure no one is going to get sick.
Goldstock: The FDA considers it gluten-free.
Q: Where does the name Duck Foot originate?
DelVecchio: It's actually the stance my snowboard bindings are set in. Originally Duck Foot was slated as a snowboarding, skating, and surf brand.
Coming up for Duck Foot
Look for new bottlings, with eye-catching artwork from design firm Madonna and Child (a longtime friend of DelVecchio's). They are the sole beer sponsor of the San Diego Surf Film Festival, from May 18-28, with the opening at the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla and screenings at the brewery (8920 Kenamar Drive, Suite 210 in Miramar) that Friday and Saturday night.
And don't forget to mark your calendar for their one-year anniversary Party on Saturday, June 4. There will be 26 beers on tap that day, with a variety of special one-offs including their Heaven Hill bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout in coconut, coffee and chocolate, and raspberry vanilla versions.
If you haven't been yet, go for these delicious beers that you will never guess are sans gluten. My personal favorites? The malty red, the Choco Nut chocolate hazelnut porter, and the Irish stout on nitro.
With 18 years in the restaurant and beverage industry and more than 850 reviews under her belt, Laurie Delk is a one-stop guide to all things craft beer, wine and spirits. You can follow Delk on Twitter @100beers30days or Instagram @sandiegobeer. Send ideas for featured drinks to firstname.lastname@example.org.