This Pittsburgh Startup Makes Gluten Free Beer That Actually Tastes Good-Project Olympus - Carnegie Mellon University

Monday, October 12, 2015

This Pittsburgh Startup Makes Gluten Free Beer That Actually Tastes Good

Having a beer (or six) with friends is one of lifes simple pleasures. Put the Steeler game on, your feet up and enjoy a cold one. Best. Thing. Ever.

But what if you were allergic to beer? Yes, that’s a real thing. Just ask Doug Foster and Ryan Bove. These two friends and fellow Pittsburghers have Celiac disease; meaning they can’t digest foods containing gluten, i.e. beer.

Poor guys. You kinda feel bad for them right? Well don’t feel too bad because these two turned this unfortunate situation into a startup. With the inception of Aurochs Brewing, Foster and Bove began brewing gluten-free beer than can compete with mainstream craft counterparts on taste and quality.

With roots that can be traced back to Alpha Lab, a nationally-acclaimed startup accelerator in Oakland, and test batches of beer brewed in Bove’s Shadyside apartment the pair is Pittsburgh through and through.

Recently we had the chance to catch up with them to chat about their product, progress and how their making Pittsburgh a healthier place to live.

Who are you and what do you do?

Doug: My name is Doug Foster, I am a 29 year old native Pittsburgher. I enjoy beer, sports and the outdoors. I am a “career celiac” and have followed a gluten-free diet since being diagnosed with Celiac Disease at the age of 5. I own and operate Aurochs Brewing Company with my buddy Ryan.

Ryan: My name is Ryan Bove, I am 28 years old and I am also a native Pittsburgher. Like Doug, I am also medically required to follow a gluten-free diet because of my gluten intolerance. Before founding Aurochs Brewing Company, Doug and I grew up together, we played football together and enjoy spending time with our friends and family.

Describe your path to what you’re doing now. (How did you get to where you are?)

Ryan: We started this company after I experienced a series of health complications (losing 30 pounds, heart problems, breathing problems, digestive issues). I endured months of doctor visits before reaching a diagnosis. Gluten, a binding protein in wheat, barley, and rye, was determined to be the culprit of my severe pain and worsening health. I had to remove these grains from my diet. As Doug mentioned, he is celiac and has been following a gluten-free diet for over 20 years.

He was able to help me with transitioning my diet. Removing gluten from my diet restored my life back to normal, but there was still one thing I could not recapture, and that was a great tasting beer. I had loved and lost when it came to craft beer. Since then, we have made it our mission to create great tasting craft beers from naturally gluten-free ingredients.

What does healthy mean to you?

Doug: Growing up I have always thought of health in terms of fitness or athletics – speed, strength, flexibility, endurance, etc. I still believe that all of that is a major factor but as I get older I have come to understand the importance of living a balanced life.
Physical fitness is only one element of your health that requires attention. I don’t have a perfect solution, but I am trying to make it a point of emphasis to focus on my mental and emotional health as well.

Getting proper sleep, building and maintaining healthy relationships and taking time for myself can be difficult while starting a business. However, I find when I do a better job of doing those things and creating balance in my life, the greater my overall health and happiness become.

Being an entrepreneur is so demanding, how do you stay “healthy”?

I credit my fiancé Emily, the founder of Yoga With Em with helping me stay healthy. I tend to have a very intense personality, but she helps me stay balanced. Some habits that I have been learning from her are to try to be as consistent about sleep as possible, start the day off with a green smoothie, and yoga. Yoga has really helped with my flexibility and injury prevention.

Another thing that I have found helpful is to get my workout in before I head to the brewery. It usually involves some stretching and then lifting, cardio or yoga. Afterwards I eat a good breakfast and get ready for the day.

Doug: We also play in a few intramural leagues with our friends. Ryan and I are both competitive by nature. Business is also competitive by nature. By finding additional outlets for that competitive spirit, it helps us keep the proper perspective at work.

What’s next for you?

Doug: Growth. We are working as hard as we can to brew as much beer as possible. However, at our current capacity it just isn’t nearly enough to meet demand.

Ryan: To echo what Doug said, we are working as hard as we can to increase our capacity as quickly as possible.

Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you/your company?

Ryan: We are grateful for the support that we have received from the city of Pittsburgh. The response we have gotten from people locally has been amazing.

Doug: Great tasting, flavorful craft beers and naturally gluten-free beer do not have to be mutually exclusive. All of our beers are naturally gluten-free – brewed with millet and quinoa. We maintain a strict gluten-free facility. We brew beers that anyone can drink and be proud to share.

For more info on what these guys are up to visit

By: Joe Vennare