New gluten-free beer arrives on Czech market

Tomáš Hub, photo:

A Czech micro-brewery in Ostrava is now producing gluten-free beer, a product that is bound to delight Czech sufferers of Celiac disease- a condition of intolerance to gluten, a protein found in most grains, and also in regular beer.

There are an estimated 50,000 sufferers of Celiac disease in the Czech Republic, and since Tuesday, they have a reason to celebrate. The microbrewery Zámeček Ostrava Zábřeh has put out a special beer that, unlike most conventional beers, does not contain gluten – a protein that patients with Celiac disease cannot digest and that can lead to serious health problems in those affected. There is no cure for the disease, says Kateřina Reichelová of the Czech society for gluten-free living.

“Celiac diseases is a hereditary intolerance to gluten, which is a protein contained in wheat, barley, spelt and rye. The gluten free diet is the only cure to the disease, there is no medication that can cure this disease.”

Tomáš Hub, head brewer of Ostrava’s Zámeček Zábřeh microbrewery, explains his decision to produce such an unusual brew- only two other breweries in Europe, in the Bavarian Nuremberg and in the British Leeds, carry a similar product.

“We decided to brew gluten-free beer because we had demand from local customers, who are Celiacs, and we waited until the end of summer, because as you know, that’s the main beer season, and we had space in our beer storage facilities to let this extra-special beer for those people mature.”

In this special low-alcohol brew, the alcohol content amounts to a modest two percent, corn and corn syrup are used in place of the traditional malt and wheat has been replaced by rice. Other ingredients are the famous spicy hops from the Žatec region of the Czech Republic and yeast from Belgium. Hibiscus and caramel are added for color.

The first 650 liter batch of the specialty brew will be sold on tap at the brewery’s pub, and depending on how well it sells, Hub may decide to brew another batch next year. So far, he has no plans to distribute it outside of the Zámeček Zábřeh pub.

The Czech society for gluten-free living is planning a field trip to the brewery. Mrs. Reichelová, who said she personally doesn’t have a taste for beer, thinks this new product will come in handy for Czechs suffering from gluten intolerance.

“I think it’s great news, because a lot of Czech celiacs like beer, a lot of Czechs in general like beer, and I think for some people it’s very important that they have gluten free beer, because they often break the rules, they don’t follow their diet because they can’t live without beer.”

And what does the beer taste like? Hub says it’s something like this:

“If you mix non-alcoholic beer with ginger beer, something between those two.”