Two Bays Brewing founder Richard Jeffares said he’s learned a lot in the first year of running a brewery, including that it’s a time consuming process bringing recipes for gluten-free beers to life.
“The hardest styles for us have been the lighter beers, such as pilsners and lagers,” Jeffares said.
“There are some flavours in our base malts that are different to barley malts, so this style of beer [pilsners and lagers] probably shows the differences the most.
“We have recently released a light and crisp 4% summer ale and it’s super refreshing, but is a style that also allows the malts to come through, with the limited use of hops.
“We have brewed about 25 different beer styles in the taproom, and most have turned out really well.”
Jeffares said since the brewery opened in December 2018, they have been surprised by the positive response from customers who are not gluten intolerant, given their targeted approach to the market.
“What has surprised me is the fantastic response we have received from non gluten-free customers and the support we have from breweries around Australia that have put us in the fridge, or on tap for the gluten free customers that come to their breweries.”
The Two Bays team brew their beer with a gluten-free malt mix containing millet, buckwheat and rice, which they source from two independent malt houses in America.
The process is expensive, though Jeffares explained that the extra cost is necessary as there are currently no gluten-free specific malt houses in Australia.
Buying malt directly from a gluten-free malt house ensures there is no potential of contamination from other grains such as having residual barley or wheat husks in the headers.
Gluten-free products generally are known to be expensive in comparison with non gluten-free products and Jeffares said that producing gluten-free beer is no exception. It’s about six times as expensive for the team in comparison to standard beer, he explained.
“It’s the malts, and that’s really a reflection of very small producers growing the grain [millet, buckwheat and rice], a craft malt house malting it and then the cost to ship it over, ” Jeffares said.
“As the gluten free beer industry grows in size and maturity, we can look to get some of the economies of scale that are available in the barley beer world, but we will always be a more expensive product, especially if we use malts instead of extract,” he said.
Jeffares explained that learning the ins and outs of industry was a more general challenge.
“How to get packaging sorted, how to get beer from Dromana to Perth nicely chilled, how to manage stock levels in multiple locations, what beer styles are going to sell in which location, the list is endless.
“I have had fantastic support from the Independent Brewers Association, and other breweries both for advice, recommendations and just putting our beer into their fridge, our sales and distribution partners, the ‘big retailers’ for giving us a go and our little team in Dromana who have been on this amazing crazy time with me.”
Currently the team brew on a 20 hectolitre, three-vessel brewery with 180 hectolitres of cellaring tanks.
Their current core range consists of an IPA, Pale Ale, Summer Ale, the world’s first gluten free XPA and in terms of future releases Jeffares says there are a number of beers in the pipeline, including a Gose and hazy IPA.
They are also fitting in well in their little corner of Dromana.
“The community is growing down here, most of us are less than a year old but Jetty Road has shown that if you provide a great venue and beer it’s customers are excited about coming into the estate.
“For us, our taproom is a great place for people to explore beer safely, everything we do is gluten free, but we are looking to be a national distributor as so it will, over time, be a smaller part of our business.”
For its efforts,Two Bays recently received the Bronze Award at the 2019 RACV Victorian Tourism Awards in the New Tourism Business category.
“We were stoked! We know we have an interesting, or different story to other breweries, and we are very focused on our target market.
“That helps in those types of awards but it was a lot of work to put the submission together and we had our fingers and toes crossed to be a finalist, so third place was more than we expected.”
For those who have not yet tasted gluten-free brews, Jeffares said they encourage everyone to give it a try.
“I describe our beer as the Pinot Noir of the beer world, [with a] lighter mouthfeel and [are] challenging to produce but make amazing, complex wines.”