Two years ago, OnMilwaukee.com's Molly Snyder wrote an article called "Milwaukee caters to gluten-free diets." The piece reported that an estimated 2.2 million people in the United States are living with Celiac Disease, a digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food, and even more have it but do not know it.
This group, along with those who suffer from food allergies or certain types of autism, are restricted to a gluten-free diet.
Snyder found that several Milwaukee-are restaurants and grocery stores are doing their part to make eating and living comfortably a little easier for those seeking breads, pastas, cereal, desserts and even lip balm made without gluten.
But what about beer? This is, after all, Milwaukee.
Lakefront Brewery released its gluten-free New Grist, made from sorghum and rice extract, in 2005. It was the first among the first of its kind available in the Milwaukee market, but more recently, beer-loving Celiacs have gotten the attention of the craft brewing industry resulting in a much broader selection.
Burnhearts, 2599 S. Logan Ave., has upped the ante with its expanding gluten-free inventory. Co-owner BJ Seidel believes everyone has the right to enjoy an ice-cold beer, no matter what their dietary restrictions suggest.
"I began ordering more gluten-free products because I noticed an increase in demand. I had had only a cider on tap for the longest time and began to feel guilty directing all my Celiac customers to the one, in my opinion, mediocre option available," he says.
With the gluten-free lifestyle crossing into the dietary mainstream, the adult beverage industry has been lead into exciting new directions to accommodate a new breed of drinker, he says.
"I was thrilled to find a wide array of quality craft products brewed specifically with these folks in mind. In addition to micro-brewed apple and pear ciders, I have included some top quality and creatively designed gluten-free ales to my beer list like Green's Belgian brewed Triple Blonde Ale."
Burnhearts' current gluten-free list tops out at seven choices, and Seidel says he plans to add more in the coming months. The options are Strongbow, Crispin Cider and Fox Barrel Pear Cider, all hard ciders; Green's Triple Blonde Ale, an aromatic Belgian; Bard's Sorghum, a rich American lager; Lakefront's New Grist, a crisp and rather sweet sorghum brew; and Redbridge, a lager made by Anheuser-Busch.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.
As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When OnMilwaukee.com offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”