“Do you have any gluten-free options?”
The phrase has become ubiquitous, and is overheard everywhere: muttered by mothers at grocery store stock boys as they shop for their bedroom-bound college graduates; or caustically casted at restaurant servers as they bounce between table and kitchen like an untrained pinball, forced to ask the chef “Can you bread the breaded chicken in something that isn’t… bread?”
Despite the fact that the only individuals who actually need to avoid gluten are those suffering from Celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, more people than ever are hunting for or whipping up their own gluten-free alternatives. In response to this immense trend—or maybe the intolerable tummys of some 18 million Americans—industries the world over are rising to whet our palettes without using those problematic proteins.
Beer is good. It’s my mantra. You should drink it. Unfortunately, a lot of people out there can’t, won’t, or shouldn’t. So in the wake of cautious colons pursuing their grain-less quest, practitioners of historic fermentation forms have had their craft reinvigorated by popular interest. While brewers experiment with gluten-free grains, there are meaderies, cideries, and wineries standing with arms wide open, ready to embrace the craft-loving crowd and show off the nuances of their historic beverages.
Here in Pittsburgh, we’re good at everything. On ice or grass, we’ll kick your ass—and with grains, fruit, or honey, we’ll have your spouse yelling, “Stop coming home drunk, dummy!” Check out some of these cideries and meaderies established here in the ‘Burgh to experience the depth of what “craft” really means.
Apis Mead & Winery
206 Mary St, Carnegie, PA 15106
Opened by former Penn Brewery cellar master David Cerminara in the summer of 2014, Apis Mead & Winery started with six flavors and has since expanded to over 20 unique blends. These range from strait mead selections like the Mellifera, which is made with 100% PA Bedillion Honey, to seasonal selections like Tangerine Ginger and Mango Habanero. Feel free to bring your best canine friend along with you as you try a flight of their dangerously delectable meads. It may be hard to find a seat, so plan accordingly!
Fun fact: Mead is the oldest of all alcohols, dating back over 6000 years ago where it is believed early man stumbled upon it by accident as they gathered honey. Determined to reintroduce the craft to the world, founder Scott Neeley has been making mead since 2011 and has experimented with over 50 varieties. He began to enter competitions in 2015 and it didn’t take long for the accolades to come
flooding in, with his total honors to date eclipsing 50 medals. In 2017, after winning gold at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, KingView has taken a break from competitions in order to focus on brick-and-mortar expansion. As of right now, their mead can only be picked up at state stores in the area, at their single tasting room in State College, or online. But fear not, weary travelers! Two new locations are planned to open in late 2018 around Pittsburgh: a tasting room, production, and event center near the Grove City Outlets and a keg room at a yet-undisclosed location in central Pittsburgh. So keep an eye out!
Threadbare Cider & Mead
1291 Spring Garden Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
With a name inspired by Johnny Appleseed and his ragged, homeless appearance, Threadbare Cider House & Meadery opened in October of last year and is a sister company of nationally recognized Wigle Whiskey. Borne from their whiskey success, co-owners Alex and Meredith Grelli use Threadbare not just as an extension for Wigle’s production, but as a way to engage with the surrounding community. All-age family tours are offered regularly where Mr. Appleseed’s Pittsburgh roots are discussed around samples of regular and experimental ciders (don’t worry, the kids get juice!). Other events are hosted regularly, like the Troy Hill and Spring Garden Bar Climb that is taking place Friday, July 20th. Attendees will start at Threadbare Cider House before working their glutes and thighs on the way up to Scratch Food & Beverage, back down to Penn Brewery, and on to Wigle Whiskey. Future events include Crossfit & Cider, a cheesemaking class, and a Cat Café sponsored by the Humane Animal Rescue. There’s no reason for you not to stop by!
Arsenal Cider House & Wine Cellar
300 39th Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15201
Located just a spitting distance away from the historical Allegheny Arsenal, Arsenal Cider House opened the doors to its U.S. Civil War-themed tasting room in June of 2010. It was the first cidery in Western Pennsylvania and has been a pioneering force in the industry, experimenting with things like hopped cider and other odds ‘n ends. Their Lawrenceville location is currently sporting eleven products on draft, as well as a guest draft currently filled by Mindful Brewing. Stop in for a gluten-free buzz and then stumble over to the Allegheny Arsenal and check out one of the most important supply and manufacturing centers for the Union Army during the Civil War.