The local craft beer craze and the gluten-free movement are joining forces in the form of a gluten-free brewery that’s getting ready to open in St. Paul.
 
Burning Brothers Brewing is building out a 5,000-square-foot warehouse that it claims will serve as the only 100 percent gluten-free brewery in the Midwest. Located at the intersection of West Thomas Avenue and North Wheeler Street, the location will open its doors sometime this summer, co-founder Thom Foss told Twin Cities Business on Thursday.
 
Several other breweries in the region produce gluten-free beers in addition to traditional (gluten-filled) beer, but Foss said Burning Brothers is the only one that will exclusively produce gluten-free brews.
 
Gluten is a protein that’s found in beer-making grains barley, wheat, and rye. For the one in every 133 U.S. citizens diagnosed with celiac disease, beer has typically been off the table. But Burning Brothers has found success brewing with buckwheat, quinoa, millet, and sorghum instead of the typical grains.
 
Foss’ co-founder, Dane Breimhorst, has the disease, but as a craft beer enthusiast, he didn’t want to let it stop him from enjoying a brew.
 
“After Dane got diagnosed with celiac, we went exploring down the road of gluten-free beers,” said Foss. “We found that the market was pretty lacking.”
 
Their goal is to brew 1,000 barrels during their first year of operation and double that figure in year two.
 
Burning Brothers’ beers are American Pale Ale, a year-round fruity beer that’s described as an American twist on an English bitter, and Cascadian Coffee Ale, a thick, dark seasonal beer that mixes the bitter from coffee with Cascadian hops. Despite the name, it’s decaf—and it took third place in the specialty beers category at the 2011 Minnesota State Fair.
 
Foss said Burning Brothers—so named after the flame throwing and fire eating that the co-founders used to do at the Renaissance Festival—will initially focus on its pale ale. Foss said he and Breimhorst have been testing about half a dozen other beers, and they expect to begin launching those around the holidays.
 
The two hope to fill a growing local and regional market niche and would like to eventually have a taproom on site. The St. Paul City Council is considering a measure that would allow small breweries located in business and traditional neighborhood districts to sell their beer on-site, by the pint, which isn’t currently allowed. (Summit Brewing Company, St. Paul’s largest brewery and Minnesota’s second largest based on barrels produced, is permitted to have a taproom because it’s in an industrial zone.)
 
Based on discussions he’s had with city council members, Foss is confident that the measure will pass, adding that there are “several other breweries that have made noise about this taproom thing in St. Paul,” and he said his brewery will accommodate one.
 
Burning Brothers is currently working with a couple of contractors to secure construction bids. The main thing that needs to be done at the brewery location is rerouting utilities, although trench drains also must be added, Foss said.
 
Meanwhile, in other St. Paul beer news, Bang Brewery is also reportedly in the process of building out space. Owners Sandy and Jay Boss Febbo plan to open a brewery on the corner of Hersey Street and Capp Road, near the old Minnesota Transfer rail yards in the heart of the Midway, according to an e-newsletter that St. Paul City Councilman Russ Stark recently sent to his constituents. Bang will reportedly supply some local bars and restaurants and will have a taproom when it opens.
 
Additionally, Stark said that within the past six months, Urban Growler Brewing Company and Fair State Brewing Cooperative have contacted him to express interest in opening new craft breweries within the ward. They are primarily interested in the Midway industrial area near the light-rail line.
 
To see a list of Minnesota’s largest breweries based on barrels produced within the state, click here.
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