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Beer Without Fear

Side Dishes: Suds a celiac can love

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Lots of couples hook up at bars after work, but 15 years ago, Jen and John Kimmich — who now own The Alchemist Pub and Brewery in Waterbury — met at a bar during work hours. At the time, they were both employed at Burlington’s Vermont Pub & Brewery.

“Our relationship was based on beer because it started in a brewery,” Jen Kimmich relates. But what does a beer lover — and purveyor — do when she learns she’s gluten intolerant? “My diet consisted largely of grilled-cheese sandwiches and beer,” Kimmich admits. “When I found out I could no longer consume them, it was tough.” (Beer is traditionally made with wheat and barley, both of which contain gluten.)

The shift was tough for her hubby, too. “He was frantic,” she recalls, but he quickly came up with a solution: gluten-free beer.

Kimmich isn’t the first to swap sorghum syrup for malt, but Jen wasn’t crazy about the commercial options she’d tried. “I love hoppy beers, and there are no hoppy, gluten-free beers on the market,” she says. John whipped up a celiac-friendly IPA and a raspberry-and-pomegranate beer with wild yeast. Both are now on tap at The Alchemist. He’s currently working on an “American sour” ale made with sour mash.

Along with the beers, The Alchemist’s chef is introducing a new menu with plenty of wheat-free eats, including a steak salad and a salmon dish. Sandwiches and quesadillas can be made on gluten-free breads and wraps, and the chicken wings and famous fries have always been fair game.

“The demand is amazing,” says Jen, noting that she’s received numerous emails and calls from fellow celiac sufferers. “I guess I took it lightly before it affected me.”

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