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How a coeliac diagnosis led to the creation of gluten free beer company TWØBAYS

Richard Jeffares was diagnosed with coeliac disease in 2015, but little did he know that it would lead him to setting up his own brewery. The founder of TWØBAYS Brewing Co. isn’t allowed to drink beer so he knew “craft beer was off the agenda” – or so he thought.

After not being able to drink beer for years, he saw the potential in gluten free beer. He said if he hadn’t found out he had coeliac disease, he would never have built Australia’s first dedicated gluten free brewery.

“My brother works in the industry too. Steve owns Stomping Ground Brewery in Melbourne and he co-founded the GABS Beer festival, so he knows a thing or two about craft beer! It was through Steve that I got introduced to the wonderful world of craft beer – and with his encouragement we now own a brewery!” Jeffares told Inside FMCG.

TWØBAYS Brewing Co. founder Richard Jeffares

Inside FMCG: Tell us how you went about creating a gluten free craft beer.

RJ: The process of brewing gluten free beer is no different to brewing ‘barley’ beer. There are actually more gluten free grains than there are grains that contain gluten – but they are not all malted and readily available on a commercial scale. Our beers currently use a combination of millet, buckwheat, rice and lentils, but we will experiment with quinoa and maybe other grains in the future. We mix the malted grain with water to help release the carbohydrates, add hops for amazing flavour and aroma and then the yeast converts all that sugar to alcohol – and we end up with a wonderful drink! Our brewery looks no different to any other. Hops are all gluten free and we use gluten free yeast and grain. Our head brewer comes from a background of brewing ‘barley’ beer for 20 years so he has plenty of experience.

Inside FMCG: Why did you decide to create gluten-free beers?

RJ: I missed the craft beer experience I could enjoy before I was diagnosed. The smell, the look, the taste – and comparing notes with friends and family. I travelled to the US because I heard they had a thriving gluten free craft beer scene. And they did! I was able to safely taste a whole range of beautiful beers with gluten free food in taprooms. Nobody was doing this in Australia, so after a lot of research I decided to open the first dedicated gluten free brewery and taproom here. We believe everybody should have the opportunity to enjoy great beer with friends and family.

Inside FMCG: Isn’t it harder to brew this type of beer compared to the regular ones?

RJ: There have certainly been challenges along the way! From different enzyme reactions to brew house adaptations, we’ve learned a lot! But there are actually more grains out there that do not contain gluten than those that do. We predominantly use millet, buckwheat and rice malts in our beers – which have been used in brewing for more than 4,000 years! At TWØBAYS, we have never brewed using barley, wheat, rye or oats and our brew system has never had beer containing gluten run through it. 

We also have our own brand-new canning line too, so there is no risk of cross contamination. There’s very little information out there (even on Google!) brewing with this interesting gluten free malts – that’s been the biggest challenge in many ways. To make great beer you need great malts and malted gluten free grains are not available in Australia! However, we found some dedicated gluten free malt houses in America, and we are now the exclusive importer of those malts. By using malt, we’re able to brew beers with interesting flavours, and the range of hops we use present wonderful aroma to our beers.

Inside FMCG: How did it feel to be awarded by the RACV Victoria Tourism Industry Council?

RJ: We were extremely excited – blown away! It was a big achievement for us to win bronze in the VTIC New Tourism Business category – it’s a pretty competitive category! We have no background in tourism and hospitality, and we had only been open for less than seven months of the ‘first’ year of operation – and we were trying to do something that had not been done before – so it was all new! We’re delighted to be offering a venue that positively impacts tourism and the community (and brings more people to) on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula!

Inside FMCG: Tell us about the partnership with Brae?

Brae Restaurant (in Birregurra) is owned by acclaimed chef Dan Hunter and has won back-to-back Australia’s Best Restaurant titles – so when we got an email from their sommelier to enquire about our beer I was extremely excited (some very impressive palates in their team). Brae initially offered our Pale Ale only to their gluten free customers in their matching drinks package – which was great – but more recently they decided to give our XPA to everyone of their customers that buy the matching drinks package – gluten free or not! We are even more excited as it shows that our beer definitely stacks up as a quality beer – and hopefully dispels the myth that everything gluten free must taste bad! A beer for everyone!

Inside FMCG: What are your top beer products?

RJ: Honestly, I enjoy a different beer every time! Our Pale Ale is the hero – it’s our first born and has the widest appeal – but we now offer a Summer Ale as a great place for Taproom visitors to start to explore a whole new world of flavour. We also have a mid-strength brewed with lentils, an Extra Pale Ale, a couple of different IPAs, a Hoppy Brown Ale and other taproom speciality beers such as a lime and coriander Gose (incredible on a hot day!). At our Taproom, we have nine beer taps exclusively pouring our beautifully fresh beer and our packaged beers are now available in selected Dan Murphy’s, BWS, Liquorland, Vintage Cellars and independent bottle shops and venues in every state of Australia.

Inside FMCG: What are the big beer trends you expect in 2020?

RJ: Beers are getting wilder and wackier and we enjoy playing a little in that space too –  although we are still playing catch up! Our next brew is going to be a Double IPA and then a Red Ale with another classic Porter as the weather gets cooler again. We’ll definitely join in the hazy IPA craze shortly too! We’re just delighted to be able to offer a whole range of beers that everyone can safely enjoy!

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