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First Look: Duck Foot East Village

Downtown's gluten-averse beer lovers get a gluten-free restaurant and brewery


For years, America was humming along just fine, eating its baguettes, slurping its pastas, and chugging its beers with glee. And then a few years ago, gluten kicked down our door and started looting our pleasure. Overnight it seemed half of my friends were gluten intolerant, casting off gluten food as the reason they’ve been feeling sluggish or forgot to file their taxes.

I'm not making light of those with real sensitivity to gluten. Eighteen million Americans are sensitive to the protein, and three million have the much more serious Celiac disease. I am making light of my friends who glom onto diet fads thinking it'll make their exes come groveling back.

The heightened awareness of gluten dealt a pretty good blow to San Diego’s craft beer scene. But all is not lost, thanks to craft beer chemists, especially the industry leaders over at White Labs in Miramar. They discovered enzymes (called Clarity Ferm) that reduced the gluten level in beers below 20 parts per million. According to international and U.S. standards, foods or drinks with that level should be able to label themselves “gluten free.” But they can't. Not yet, at least. Because labeling laws are overseen by the TTB and FDA, which are government agencies. Government agencies are not known for their exquisite speed, nor logic. So, for now, beers using this enzyme have to call themselves “gluten-reduced,” instead of "gluten free." Celiac disease sufferers have drank Clarity Ferm beers and reported no adverse effects.

Best part is Clarity Ferm doesn’t significantly alter the taste of craft beer. So it's a pretty genius product during these times of gluten terror. And Duck Foot Brewing in Miramar was the first San Diego brewery to treat all of their craft beers with it back in 2015. Why? Because their co-owner Matt DelVecchio was diagnosed with Celiac, which put a damper on his love of craft beer. So he and partners Brett Goldstock and Suzy Pessutti created Duck Foot to make craft beers he (and other Celiac sufferers) could drink. They’re now in over 500 bars, restaurants, and other outlets—and this week they’re opening a brewery restaurant, whose menu will be entirely gluten-free and “moderately health conscious.”

There will be 16 taps at the location, including some of their most popular beers (double white IPA, blonde ale, coconut IPA, pilsner, honey ale), seasonal batches (Irish stout, red ale, imperial stout, Belgian saison), and limited-edition releases that won't be available anywhere else. The food menu is overseen by local chef Stevan Novoa. There are beer-friendly apps l(crispy garbanzo beans with house togarashi, elote, charcuterie board), plus main dishes like beets in a mole sauce; Japanese sweet potato with shimeji mushrooms, beer ponzu, and mint-pomegranate pesto; meatballs with dried fruit, pine nuts, kefir yogurt, opal pesto; and sticky short ribs with blood orange glaze, chermoula, and brocollini. Bar snacks/apps 

The 1,500 square-foot Duck Foot East Village is going into 550 Park Blvd, former home of Parlour, between Market and Island. It’s designed by Jessica Kovarsky of Studio Aya, the same creatives who did their minimal, vaguely comic-loving original location. Grand opening is Labor Day weekend. duckfootbeer.com 


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