A friend of mine once said that all gluten-free beers taste like stamps. He was only half joking. Required to avoid beer's traditional starchy backbones, a lot of brewers end up with something thin, acrid or just oddly off.
Enter Aurochs Brewing. Founded in 2012 by high school friends Doug Foster and Ryan Bove, Aurochs doesn't just toss off a gluten-free brew to cash in on a trend — it's front and center in the whole operation. Foster and Bove, both gluten-free for medical reasons, spent nearly two years learning about ingredients and testing recipes before opening to the public this August.
All that R & D is paying off. Aurochs — named after a famed species of wild cattle driven extinct, in part, by the expansion of wheat and barley farming — consistently sells out of their rotating selection of brews, which use quinoa and malted millet in place of more common grains.
After being open for just nine weeks, Aurochs recently closed for a weekend to scale up, more than doubling its current production. Though the new batches will still be small, as Foster said, "you've got to crawl before you can walk before you can run." And in its new 7,000-square-foot home, in Emsworth, Aurochs will indeed have plenty of room to run.
As Foster showed me around the space, a former warehouse for a car dealership, he pointed out where the rows of mash tuns and fermenters will eventually go. "We're chomping at the bit to brew more and more," he explained. For now, the beer is available only at the brewery, which is open Thursday and Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons (or until the kegs all kick).
Oh, and about that beer? Bove poured me a taste of their amber ale, which was crisp, lightly malty and very, very sessionable. And blessedly free from stamps.