Otherwise Brewing Is Elevating the Gluten-Free Beer Game

Photo by Bethie Martin

When Aaron Gervais and Stellar Cassidy first set out to make a gluten-free beer, there was one thing on their minds: the final product needed to taste good. “It’s not good enough to just be gluten-free,” says Gervais. “The gluten-free aspect is just a value added on top of that.”

It’s clear to anyone who’s tried the brewery’s beers that the pair understood the assignment. They’ve been creating their gluten-free brews in San Francisco under the name Otherwise Brewing, steadily gaining a fan base that goes beyond the gluten-free crowd. The brewery was born out of a desire to create more gluten-free drinking options, as Gervais has several family members who don’t consume gluten, and as Cassidy noticed a growing demand for this type of beverage when she was working in San Francisco beer establishments.

Between the two of them, they had enough home brewing and beer industry knowledge to feel confident that this was something they could accomplish. They co-founded Otherwise in 2019 and spent the next year perfecting a recipe until they were able to debut Calrose Crisp, a rice lager made with malted Calrose rice, a world-renowned (and gluten-free) sushi rice. Paired with German hops, it makes for a classic, easy-drinking pale lager.

Since then, they’ve successfully brewed up stouts (Hella Nibs), sours (Meringue & Tang, Guava Fresca and Péché de Pêche), IPAs (30,000 Feet, IFLS and Sonic Bloom) and a pale ale (Western Addition). And the demand for their gluten-free brews is there, evidenced by the map on their website, which updates hourly to show which bars, restaurants and retailers are carrying their beers throughout California (in Marin, that’s everywhere from The Monk’s Kettle to Sushi Ran). You can buy directly from their website, too, and the company just recently expanded to nationwide sales and shipping. But what Gervais and Cassidy are especially excited to get started on is an eventual taproom. While that’s still in the early stages, the team is planning for a San Francisco location to start slinging their suds.

In addition to prioritizing high- quality flavors in the award-winning beers, Otherwise is also dedicated to what they call “climate-resilient brewing.”

“The gluten-free nature of our beer also comes with sustainability, because the grains that we use have a much smaller carbon footprint than that of barley,” says Cassidy. Barley, in addition to being a less sustainable crop, contains gluten, which is why Otherwise uses gluten-free (and drought-resistant) crops like millet and buckwheat.

The team quickly discovered that using alternative grains made for a brewing process that’s quite a bit different from the traditional one. “Beer is possible because of a couple of happy accidents with nature that line up at specific temperatures in barley, and those accidents don’t happen with other grains,” says Gervais.

“So, we had to find ways to make it happen.” But they did, managing to produce beer that tastes like “normal” beer. And as “normal” beer drinkers themselves, Gervais and Cassidy can vouch for their own brews hitting the right marks.

“Everyone should be able to drink delicious craft beer,” says Cassidy. And people with gluten intolerance (and everyone else) are thankful Otherwise is making that possible. Cheers!

two founders of Otherwise Brewing
Founders Aaron Gervais and Stellar Cassidy (Photo by Starr Kutchins)