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Gluten-free brewery founded by coeliac wins UK-wide distribution

Edinburgh’s Bellfield Brewery – the UK’s first dedicated gluten-free microbrewery, which was co-founded by a coeliac – has secured distribution with a number of UK-wide operators.

Bellfield Brewery has secured national distribution having launched just four months ago (Photo: Bellfield Brewery)

The brewery’s two beers, Lawless Village IPA and Bohemian Pilsner, have been taken on by Scottish-based distributors and wholesalers, including Craft Beer Clan Scotland, Gordon & MacPhail, Inverarity Morton, Food and Drink Hub for Scotland and Green City.

The new deals will allow the beers to reach drinkers across the rest of Scotland and the UK, as well as potentially, international markets, the company said.

The brewery – which was co-founded by Alistair Brown, a director at STV Group who was diagnosed coeliac in October 2012, and Giselle Dye, whose husband Robin Baillie is also coeliac – has already secured listings in more than 100 bars, pubs and restaurants in its home city of Edinburgh and across Scotland’s central belt – after just four months of trading.

Stockists include Edinburgh’s five-star Balmoral Hotel, renowned Italian food and wine emporium Valvona & Crolla and local bars and bottle shops including the Beach House, Fine Wines, and Vino; Cave and Valhalla in Glasgow; Howies in Perth; and outlets in Highlands, Aberdeen, Ayrshire and St Andrews. Bellfield said strong sales had been reported these sites.

“We had a tremendous response to our first two beers,” brewer and brewery manager Kieran Middleton said.

“People have really embraced the fact that we were founded by coeliacs and that we’re committed to producing only gluten-free beers.

“We’re not interested in producing gluten-free versions of bland lagers and beers at industrial scale.  Our beers are small-batch, hand-crafted and gluten-free, without the need to add anything.

Commenting on the market opportunity and growth potential for the business, Middleton said:  “We are continuing to see momentum building in the demand for gluten-free food and drink, both in the UK and internationally, and our new distribution partners will help us to fulfil this demand.

“The brewery is investing heavily in research and development and we’re hoping to bring new beers to the market in the coming months.”

Bellfield Brewery is the first entirely gluten-free craft brewery to brew all its beers in the UK.

Produced in small batches, the beers are accredited by Coeliac UK and carry the ‘crossed grain’ symbol, which indicates that they are safe for people who are gluten intolerant and coeliac.

Coeliac disease is a lifelong autoimmune disease caused by intolerance to gluten. One in 100 people has the condition. Once diagnosed, it requires following a gluten-free diet for life.

Most people who are gluten-intolerant avoid conventionally made beers, which tend to be made using gluten-containing barley or wheat grain.

Gluten-free beers usually use alternative grains and grasses such as millet, rice, corn, buckwheat or sorghum.

Those who have coeliac disease have to stop drinking conventionally made beer entirely.

Another way to make gluten-free beers is to use traditional gluten grains like malted barley, but then remove the gluten before the final product is released. This process offers a taste more closely resembling traditional beer.

Bellfield Brewery is working on both of these approaches to produce its beers, however its two first beers, Bellfield Village IPA and Bellfield Pilsner, are made using the latter process.

A recent report from data analyst Research and Markets predicted that the global gluten-free beer market is set to grow at a CAGR of more than 40% between now and 2021. This growth is expected to be driven by factors such as raising health concerns among the consumers, new product launches by leading companies and aggressive marketing by retailers about gluten-free products.

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