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Brewing beer with buckwheat: Israeli brewery goes gluten-free

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By Hal Conick+

13-Oct-2015

Meadan brews with all gluten-free ingredients, including buckwheat and chickpeas.
Meadan brews with all gluten-free ingredients, including buckwheat and chickpeas.

Being diagnosed with celiac disease usually means the days of drinking beer are over, but entrepreneur Bryan Meadan wasn’t quite ready to accept that fate. He is now brewing beer using ingredients such as chickpeas and quinoa.

After being diagnosed with the digestive condition in 2006 (celiacs suffer from an adverse reaction to gluten, which is normally present in beer), he started to miss drinking beer.

So he started brewing his own gluten-free beer, made with ingredients like buckwheat, quinoa, date syrup and chickpeas.

Meadan founded Meadan Craft Brewing Co. earlier this year and started brewing in July.

“I found a type of recipe that I tweaked and changed and by the end of year I had a couple good batches, then I was able to repeat the process several times,” Meadan told BeveargeDaily.

We found someone here in Israel who brews beer for other people. We decided to give it a shot and have him brew our beer and we started selling it.”

“Very, very quickly, we realized that the market was huge and there was no way we could keep up with demand.”

Unique ingredients

After reading online about the process to make buckwheat-based beer, Meadan started testing his recipe in small batches at home. His first beer had malted quinoa and buckwheat, as well as honey. Later, honey was switched for date syrup.

“And then one day I was looking at some chickpeas and saying ‘Huh, I bet I could malt this and make beer out of it’,” he said.

“It came out nice. It’s a little more tart than our other beers, that’s something to do with the malting process. I may be able to fix it over time, but some people love tart beers.”

What do these gluten-free beers taste like? First and foremost, Meadan noted that they are definitely full-flavored craft beers. The buckwheat beer is very hoppy, he said, while the chickpea beer takes on a bit more of a smoky, coffee-laden flavor. As for the date syrup beer —which Meadan noted that many don’t consider beer in the first place — it has a gentler, less dry taste than other beers.

The ingredients are truly what make these beers unique, as Meadan said he has never seen a buckwheat-based beer, sans barley. He also has never seen another brewer use chickpeas instead of barley.

“If someone has made chickpea beer, it’s not on the internet,” he said.

Taking on the challenge

Thus far, there’s good traffic at Meadan’s brewery, he said, but it has not come without challenges. Meadan, who previously owned a small web programming company, said getting permits for brewing in Israel can be trying, as can getting gluten-free tags and kosher certificates.

Even so, he believes the brewery is on the right track. The company, which has capacity to brew about 10,000 gallons, just received a large beer order for Passover this spring, as it’s the only company in the country to brew a kosher beer, he said.

“We’re getting there,” he said. “[Kosher] is a designation that’s a really difficult thing to get. I’m working on that right now. That could be huge sales in the future.”

Moving forward, Meadan said the beer brewed in Israel is likely too expensive to export, but he has not ruled out opening another brewery in California or Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

“I actually think it’s going to be very popular, because of the gluten-free trend and making beer out of things like buckwheat and chickpeas,” Meadan said. “I’ve already honed in on the type of beers that we want. We’re now perfecting them and getting into the market.”

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Other Israeli craft beers

For those interested in reading more about Israeli craft beers, I invite you to read my blog, Israel Brews and Views. You can begin with reading my posting on Bryan Meadan and his gluten-free beers:
http://israelbrewsandviews.blogspot.co.il/2014/04/kosher-for-passover-beer-maybe-for-next.html

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Posted by Doug Greener
13 October 2015 | 14h132015-10-13T14:13:11Z

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