The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority’s decision to stop selling a popular gluten-free lager could be a “massive” opportunity for a Regina-based brewery that uses lentils grown in the province to make its own celiac-friendly beer.
“It’s huge for us,” Rebellion Brewing Co. brewmaster Mark Heise said of the Crown corporation’s decision to cease ordering Estrella Daura — which is brewed in Spain by S.A. Damm — following a warning from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
SLGA said it could not provide sales statistics for Estrella Daura, but Heise said its absence from bars is expected to boost sales of Lentil Cream Ale, which Rebellion and the Saskatchewan pulse company AGT Foods and Ingredients Inc. launched in late 2015.
The CFIA advised SLGA and other liquor jurisdictions to “put the product on hold” last month after it became concerned that Estrella Daura was made using products that contain gluten, SLGA spokesman David Morris said in an email.
The Crown corporation plans to sell the “very limited stock” remaining in 20 of its stores and ship all of the beer left in its warehouse back to its suppliers, Morris said, adding that other liquor jurisdictions made similar decisions.
S.A. Damm did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company said on its website that it guarantees Estrella Daura’s gluten content is three parts per million or fewer — below the accepted gluten-free threshold of 20 parts per million.
Arno Oldach, co-owner of the Yard & Flagon and Rook and Raven pubs in Saskatoon, said having a gluten-free beer like Estrella Daura is important as people become more concerned about diet, and that he plans to replace it with Rebellion’s lentil ale.
“That’s what we’ve decided to put on tap in lieu of another option,” he said. “And it sells fairly well. I’m not sure if anyone else is offering a gluten-free option in the form of draft.”
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