Brewery Spotlight: Duck Foot Brewing Co.
New breweries are opening in San Diego at an average rate of one per month. That means, in order to survive, the new guys better have something unique to distinguish them from their competitors, all of who are all vying for our valuable attention.
Photo by Paul Body
Enter Duck Foot Brewing Co., the newest addition to the Miramar brewing scene. Duck Foot is San Diego’s first completely gluten-free beer producer. The impetus for building a gluten-free brewery came primarily from co-founder (and “Head Quack”) Matt DelVecchio, who has Celiac disease (physical intolerance to gluten). As a long-time beer lover, Matt had to swear off suds when he realized it was causing him health problems. This sort of existence (No beer?!), as you may imagine, was intolerable. Matt missed the pleasures of a great brew so much that he decided to take matters into his own hands—literally.
While Matt was homebrewing, doing research, and developing his branding (the name refers to the way he rides his snowboard) he was introduced to Brett Goldstock by a mutual friend. Brett was a homebrewer and a beer judge who was also interested in opening a brewery one day. With their passions and goals well aligned, Matt and Brett were soon able to make their brewery a reality.
The final product is free of gluten, but Duck Foot’s beers are brewed the same way all craft beers are brewed. The difference comes at the end of the process, when a special enzyme is added to the finished beer. This enzyme turns the naturally occuring long-chain proteins into short-chain proteins (it’s the long-chain proteins that Celiac sufferers and gluten-intolerant people can’t process). Matt admits that creating gluten-free beers has been rewarding in many ways. "I didn't realize I would be able to make a difference in peoples lives when I entered the beer business,” he explains, “it's actually been amazing to see the number of Celiac and gluten-intolerant people coming in and having a complete and safe portfolio of solid craft beer to try. It's the first time some of them have ever had craft beer, period.” Brett adds that, during tastings, Celiac sufferers have actually teared up and hugged him with gratitude.
Of course, the folks at Duck Foot don’t want people to think of them exclusively as the “gluten-free” brewery; instead, they’d prefer to be judged just like any other quality producer in town. The fact that their beer happens to be accessible to a wider audience is, as they see it, just an added benefit (albeit one that brings new joy to the previously beer-deprived). Matt says, “It's probably one of the most rewarding things I have ever done with my life, second to marrying my wife and having my son." In their own unique way, Duck Foot has expanded the reach and audience for San Diego craft beer, which is, after all, nothing to quack at.