Dedicated breweries, accommodating restaurants
By YVVG STAFF
Gluten-free tasting and dining? There’s an app for that. There’s also a destination for that.
“I like to say that McMinnville is the original dedicated gluten-free brewery tasting room capital of the room,” says JP Bierly, owner of Bierly Brewing.
McMinnville is home to two of the 14 dedicated gluten-free breweries — and until recently the only city with two tasting rooms — in America, making it a popular draw for people with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance. Local restaurateurs make sure they all have plenty of options for dining out, too. “The Willamette Valley in general has amazing gluten-free options compared to other places in the country,” says Erik Lapp, co-owner of Evasion Brewing. “Just about every restaurant has some gluten-free option.”
The brewers say they enjoy providing visitors with tips and information about the local gluten-free scene. But they do so carefully.
Bierly’s tasting room is the only dedicated eatery (with a small bites menu that includes a weekly donut special), so both beermakers are careful when giving recommendations, knowing levels of sensitivity vary greatly with gluten free eaters.
“We always put a big caveat of, ‘we’ve had success at these places and ordering these things and here are the questions you need to ask,”' says Bierly, who runs the business with his wife, Amelia, a McMinnville native and lifelong celiac. “We always ask them what kind of food are you in the mood for, most of the time its food that doesn’t make them sick.”
Along with advice from the Bierlys and Lapps, there’s plenty of digital resources with user-generated reviews and suggestions for gluten-free diners, including the mobile app Find Me Gluten Free.
“Technology, social media, has really revolutionized the way that people can find safe food now,” Amelia says, adding that asking for gluten-free food when she was a kid wasn’t even a thing. “(Back then), the only restaurants we went to were the ones with salad bars so I could see what was going on my food, put it there myself.”
Now there’s several options, with dozens of restaurants with good options (according to the app) whether it's fine dining, casual meals or take-out.
Both breweries say they have regulars from all over the Northwest. JP Bierly notes how the surrounding wine country draws a lot of gluten-free travelers. Yamhill Valley is much more than just a wine destination.