Coeliacs turn to gluten-free brewing

Engineer John O’Brien loves a beer. But in 1998, after being diagnosed with coeliac disease, he faced a dry future unless he could find a gluten-free beer.

Gluten’s not a problem for most people. But for Australia’s 30 thousand diagnosed Coeliacs its consumption can be debilitating as it inhibits the small intestine’s ability to absorb vital nutrients. The only cure is to avoid gluten.

A global search turned up nothing satisfactory, so O’Brien made small batches for his own consumption. He later established his own brand, brewing initially at Michael Murtagh’s Bintara Brewery, Rutherglen, using the gluten-free grains, sorghum and buckwheat. O’Brien released the first beer  – O’Brien’s Premium Gluten Free Lager –in August 2005.

In 2007 O’Brien and fellow coeliac, brewer Andrew Lavery, set up their own brewery, Rebellion Brewing, in Ballarat and expanded their range of gluten-free beers. We’ll look at these next week.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 8 August 2012 in The Canberra Times