Yorkshire-based Brass Castle Brewery has moved to full gluten-free production and plans to expand its laboratory capability so it can certify every batch of its beer in-house.
The company made the announcement as two of its canned beers, Sunshine IPA and Bad Kitty vanilla porter, were shortlisted in the national FreeFrom Food Awards, which recognise excellence by free-from producers across the food and drink sector.
Brass Castle founder Phil Saltonstall has always sought to make the beers suitable for as many drinkers as possible, using vegan-friendly brewing methods ever since the brewery opened in 2011.
The company’s canned beers were already gluten-free, and in December the brewery moved to completely gluten-free brewing of all beers in cask, keg and can.
Mr Saltonstall said: “At Brass Castle we are really proud of our beers and of our brewers’ fantastic recipes, and we don’t want any beer drinkers to have to miss out. We’re delighted to have been able to switch to complete gluten-free production without impacting upon the signature flavours. By bringing our gluten testing in-house, we will be able to give drinkers absolute assurance, every time they buy one of our beers, that it is gluten-free – and we can do so without having to pass on any significant extra cost to the bars and pubs we work with.”
Gluten testing is required for every batch of beer produced, and third-party laboratory work can cost breweries thousands of pounds a year. For a run of 5,000 canned beers, the cost equates to only about 3p per can. However for a typical run of 44 casks of ale, it can add around £2.50 to the cost of a cask, potentially dissuading publicans who often operate to very tight margins.
At the moment, Brass Castle has its cans of Sunshine IPA, Bad Kitty porter, Helles Lager and Hoptical Illusion pale ale certified through Brewlab in Sunderland, but it plans to invest £200,000 in laboratory equipment and a canning production line at its brewery in Malton within the next six months, enabling Brass Castle to put more of its beers in cans and also to certify each batch of cask, keg or canned beer itself.
Brass Castle has won a string of awards for its beers and business practices since its formation in 2011 and the gluten-free beers have continued to win awards since the recipe changes. Bad Kitty was named runner-up Beer of the Festival from a field of more than 400 beers at the Manchester Camra Fest in January, then champion beer at the Liverpool St George’s Hall Winter Beer Festival the following week.
The canned versions of Sunshine IPA and Bad Kitty are up against 15 other beers in the drinks category of the 11th FreeFrom Food Awards, with the winners to be revealed in London on April 17.
Increasing numbers of food and drink producers, including brewers, are seeking to cater for gluten-free customers, and FreeFrom awards director Michelle Berriedale-Johnson said judges had been amazed by the range and quality of the entries.
Brass Castle has managed to make its beers gluten-free by using tiny amounts of a vegan-friendly protease enzyme. Only 45ml is needed per 2000 litres of beer produced – equivalent to one teaspoonful for every 400 pints.
Mr Saltonstall said: “One way of making beer gluten-free is to avoid barley or wheat, and to use ingredients such as maize, oats or sorghum instead. We and other breweries have done that at times, but for many drinkers the barley and wheat character are integral to beer. We have done a lot of research and came across this enzyme. Some breweries use it to reduce protein haze but a lovely side-effect is a reduction in dissolved gluten.
“We’re delighted to have been shortlisted in the FreeFrom awards, alongside some other excellent breweries, who are also demonstrating that gluten-free beers can be just as delicious as regular beers. We knew there didn’t have to be a flavour penalty in making the switch to gluten-free, but we’re still surprised that not one Brass Castle drinker seems to have noticed a difference. It’s possible that our beers have just got even better!”
Notes to editors
• If you have any queries, or would like to visit the brewery, contact Amy Pulling, Kev Jones or Tony McKenna at Brass Castle on 01653 698683 or email@example.com
• Since the brewery’s formation in 2011, Brass Castle beers have won 35 gold awards, 10 silver awards and five bronze awards. The brewery has also won two business awards and been shortlisted for a third. A full list of awards is attached.
• The FreeFrom Food Awards, in their 11th year, are the industry’s only awards for freefrom food and drink, including gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free and soya-free products
• The awards are run by the FreeFrom Matters team. Judges include manufacturers, chefs, cookery writers, dietitians, nutritionists, bloggers, coeliacs and allergy sufferers.
• The winners of the awards will be presented with their certificates at an invitation-only event in central London on April 17.
BRASS CASTLE AWARDS
Gold CAMRA York Beer and Cider Festival Stouts and Porters Bad Kitty 2011
Gold CAMRA York Beer and Cider Festival LocAle of the Festival Bad Kitty 2011
Silver CAMRA York Beer and Cider Festival Beer of the Festival Bad Kitty 2011
Gold CAMRA Peterborough CAMRA Beer Festival Speciality Beer Class Bad Kitty 2012
Gold CAMRA Huddersfield Oktoberfest Beer of the Festival Burnout 2012
Silver CAMRA York Beer and Cider Festival Dark Beers < 6.0% Burnout 2012
Bronze SIBA North East Region Competition Speciality Beers Bad Kitty 2013
Gold Rotary Club Guisbrough Beer Festival Best of the Fest Bad Kitty 2013
Silver CAMRA York Beer and Cider Festival Porters, Stouts, Old Ales and Strong Milds Burnout 2013
Bronze SIBA North East Region Competition Standard Lager and Pilsners Helles Lager 2013
Gold SIBA North East Region Competition Strong Bitters Sunshine 2013
Gold CAMRA York Beer and Cider Festival Beers over 5.0% Sunshine 2013
Gold SIBA North East Region Competition Overall Champion of the Competition Sunshine 2013
Gold CAMRA Market Bostworth Rail Ale Festival Beer of the Festival Bad Kitty 2014
Gold CAMRA Skipton Beer Festival Beer of the Festival Bad Kitty 2014
Silver SIBA North East Region Competition Bottled Speciality Beers Bad Kitty 2014
Gold CAMRA York Beer and Cider Festival Beer of the Festival Barrel-Aged Wallop 2014
Gold SIBA SIBA Beer Competition Porters, Stouts, Old Ales and Strong Milds Burnout 2014
Gold SIBA North East Region Competition Overall Champion of the Competition Burnout 2014
Silver SIBA SIBA Beer Competition Beer of the Festival Snow Eater 2014
Gold CAMRA York Beer and Cider Festival Beers 4.5% – 5.0% Snow Eater 2014
Silver Rotary Club Guisbrough Beer Festival Best of the Fest Snow Eater 2014
Gold SIBA North East Region Competition Sunshine 2014
Gold SIBA North East Region Competition Bottled Bitters 5% and over Sunshine 2014
Gold CAMRA York Beer and Cider Festival Dark Beers Wallop 2014
Special Thanks CAMRA Members Weekend (Scarborough) 2014
Silver CAMRA York Beer and Cider Festival Dark Beers > 5.0% Annexation 2015
Joint Gold CAMRA Maidenhead Beer & Cider Festival Beer of the Festival Bad Kitty 2015
Gold CAMRA Market Bostworth Rail Ale Festival Beer of the Festival Bad Kitty 2015
Gold CAMRA 38th Norwich Beer Festival Old Ale, Stout & Porter Bad Kitty 2015
Silver CAMRA 38th Norwich Beer Festival Beer of the Festival Bad Kitty 2015
Silver CAMRA York Beer and Cider Festival Speciality Beers Black Forest 2015
Gold SIBA National Cask Beer Competition Champion Porters, Stouts, Old Ales and Strong Milds Burnout 2015
Bronze CAMRA Huddersfield Oktoberfest Stout/Porter of the Festival Burnout 2015
Gold SIBA National Cask Beer Competition Supreme Champion Burnout 2015
Gold CAMRA Sheffield Steel City Beer and Cider Festival Mild Category (Blind Taste Test) Hazelnut Mild 2015
Gold CAMRA Huddersfield Oktoberfest Beer of the Festival Life’s a Beach 2015
Gold CAMRA York Beer and Cider Festival Pale & Amber 4.0 – 4.4% Mosaic 2015
Gold CAMRA York Beer and Cider Festival Pale & Amber 5.1-5.9% Sunshine 2015
Gold SIBA National Bottled Beer Competition Champion Bottled Bitters 5% and Over Sunshine 2015
Finalist Indie Beer Can Festival 2016 Bad Kitty 2016
Gold CAMRA Eastbourne Beer Festival Beer of the Festival Bad Kitty 2016
Gold SIBA SIBA North East Independent Beer Awards Small Pack Standard Lagers and Pilsners Helles Lager 2016
Gold SIBA SIBA Beer X National Keg Beer Competition Champion Standard Lagers & Pilsners Helles Lager 2016
Gold CAMRA Sussex Exemption Beer of the Festival Bad Kitty 2017
Gold CAMRA Halifax & Calderdale Beer and Cider Festival Beer of the Festival Bad Kitty 2017
Gold CAMRA Manchester Beer & Cider Festival Beer of the Festival Bad Kitty 2017
Bronze SIBA North East Independent Beer Awards Small Pack Lager and Pilsners Helles Lager 2017
Gold SIBA SIBA National Independent Beer Awards Champion Standard Lagers & Pilsners Helles Lager 2017
Bronze SIBA SIBA North East Independent Beer Awards Small Pack Bitters and Pale Ales Hoptical Illusion 2017
Winner York Press Business Awards Socially Responsible Business of the Year 2017
Finalist York Press Business Awards Exporter of the Year 2017
Winner SIBA SIBA Business Awards Best Community Support 2016
Gold Liverpool Winter Beer Festival Beer of the Festival Bad Kitty 2018
Silver CAMRA Manchester Beer & Cider Festival Beer of the Festival Bad Kitty 2018