November 12th, 2021

Bierly Brewing: Inspired Beer Without the Gluten

Amelia and JP Bierly brew and sell their gluten-free beers at their downtown McMinnville location. Photo by Dan Shryock.

There’s a new brewery in downtown McMinnville but it’s not a typical micropub. It’s Bierly Brewing, a Third Street operation producing gluten-free beers and food for an enthusiastic clientele. It’s a daring business direction that’s paying off; Amelia and JP Bierly are ramping up production to meet demand from customers throughout the Willamette Valley.

Stop by on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays to see for yourself. There’s indoor and outdoor dining.

The couple’s passion for gluten-free products begins at home. Both Amelia and JP were diagnosed with celiac disease, requiring them to avoid gluten – products containing specific grains. Amelia, the brewery’s chef, specializes in doughnuts and soft pretzels. JP concentrates on the beers. They opened their first commercial brewery in 2016 alongside like-minded Eats & Treats Café in Philomath.

Two years later, they moved operations to McMinnville, their hometown, and in 2020 purchased their building at 624 NE Third St. – the longtime home of Tommy’s Bicycle Shop. They’ve enjoyed continuous success despite coping with a pandemic and a major building remodel. Customers looking to avoid gluten are seeking them out.

“We’re a German-inspired brewery,” JP says. “Obviously, any German is going to tell me that I can’t make beer with gluten-free ingredients. It must be (made with) barley, hops, yeast, and water. But my beers taste like German beers.”

How does he do it?

“We don’t have any strict style or ingredient guidelines other than being gluten-free. We don’t use wheat, oats, barley, or rye in anything we make,” he says. “That means all of our beer is naturally gluten-free because we only use ingredients that have never contained gluten.”

“The main thing we have to cut out is barley malt and that’s what’s in every other beer,” Amelia adds. “So, we use other malted ingredients – malted rice, malted buckwheat, malted millet, sorghum. We still use hops. We still use yeast. Dried yeast is gluten-free.”

JP and Amelia produce five flagship beers year-round: a pilsner, two IPAs, a porter, and a stout. Seasonal beers appear on the tap list as well, and “those tend to be much more towards German beers that are coming back in vogue right now in the wholesale world,” JP says.

With in-store limited business during the pandemic, the Bierlys developed a loyal customer base that relied on home deliveries.

“It wasn’t safe for us to keep having people in the tasting room and outdoor dining wasn’t a thing yet,” Amelia says. “We thought about how we could keep things going and with a lot of people not even going to grocery stores, we decided to add home deliveries.”

Customers placed orders via social media and phone calls and JP would add stops to his weekly wholesale deliveries to regional grocery stores such as Market of Choice, New Seasons Market, and other natural food stores. Amelia’s fresh doughnuts, frozen pretzels, and bread became as popular as the beer.

“We were able to pivot a lot because there’s just the two of us and we were really lucky to have that ability,” Amelia says.

And now they’re welcoming guests on Third Street. Have a beer and try the chocolate or cinnamon sugar doughnuts.

Dan Shryock

Dan Shryock regularly writes about McMinnville, travel, and cycle tourism.