If you’re unfortunate enough to suffer from coeliac disease or lesser forms of gluten intolerance, you’re at least fortunate to be living in an era in which awareness is on the rise and gluten free options are becoming both more commonplace and higher in quality. And, if you’re a beer lover whose body can’t process gluten, you’re fortunate to have people like Richard Jeffares around.
He was diagnosed with coeliac disease relatively late in life; certainly, it was late enough in life to have developed a taste for craft beer. When your brother is one of the key movers and shakers in the Australian beer world, it would be hard not to, and Richard’s brother Steve is one of the founders of The Local Taphouse, GABS and Stomping Ground, a trio that adds up to a lot of tasty beer.
So, rather than accept his lot, he decided to do something about it and add to the small but growing number of gluten free beer options being produced in Australia. He took off around the US visiting as many GF breweries as possible in Portland, Seattle, Denver and Montreal, and found much to enjoy and inspire from brewers using millet, buckwheat and rice instead of the grains more typically found in beer.
Upon his return he set about creating TWØBAYS in Dromana, on the Mornington Peninsula. And the aim wasn’t just to start brewing GF beers but also to create a 100 percent GF brewery venue. Not only that, he wanted it to be a place where the beers and food on offer would be good enough that anyone – coeliac or otherwise – would want to come and enjoy themselves.
To assist him in doing so, he brought in Andrew “AG” Gow, an award-winning brewer who’d most recently been head brewer at nearby Mornington Peninsula. And, ahead of the brewery’s launch in 2018, they set about creating a lineup of beers they hoped would stack up against barley and wheat-based beers.
Call in and it only takes one sniff and sip of their citrusy Pale Ale to know they’ve hit the mark. Elsewhere in the core lineup there’s an IPA and XPA that sit happily where contemporary tastes are, while seasonal releases include a popular lime and coriander gose and more experimental beers, such as a mid-strength brewed with lentils.
Within months, they’d launched their first beers in cans and found there was demand from across the country, in particular from specialty beer retailers, while in winter 2020 there was a bit of a brewer swap as AG returned to his former brewery a short drive away and Kristian Martin moved from Mornington Peninsula to TWØBAYS keen to continue the policy of innovation and experimentation.
Indeed, over time, while TWØBAYS started from Richard's desire to create gluten-free beers similar to those he'd become accustomed to drinking, their willingness to play with a diverse range of ancient grains, not to mention lentils, has given them a lineup dotted with unique beers inquisitive drinkers won't find anywhere else.
As for the rest of the offering at their taproom, it also passes muster whether you need to keep gluten out of your diet or otherwise. Working with Senza, the TWØBAYS pizzas come with a hearty endorsement. My young daughter – diagnosed as a “classic coeliac” at three – had refused to eat pizza for years after too many disappointing experiences; one visit here and she’s a pizza believer again.
Completing the picture is the brewery’s location. The Dromana industrial estate where it’s located is fast turning into a pocket of deliciousness. Jetty Road’s home is a short walk away, as are the homes of Bass & Flinders Distillery, Jimmy Rum, a coffee roaster and more.
It’s a development that regularly sees visitors stroll from one to the next, sampling and gathering take home gifts as they go. And, reassuringly for Richard and his team, the beer lovers’ feedback on the beers have been as positive as Matilda’s on the pizza.