Beer companies appears intent on jumping on a small bandwagon of brewers making beer with sorghum instead of barley. The dominant industry leader already has demonstrated its commitment to attacking tiny niches by rolling out organic beers.
Beers made with sorghum can be consumed by people with a condition called celiac disease. Exposure to gluten -- a protein found in barley -- triggers digestive problems in people with the disease.
Lakefront Brewery, a Milwaukee craft brewer, recently launched a gluten-free beer called New Grist to great success. The beer is available in one-third of the country and has been picked up by big natural food retailers such as Whole Foods Market Inc. and Wild Oats Markets Inc.
The gluten-free market also is drawing attention from St. Louis- based Anheuser-Busch Inc., the nation's largest brewer. People with celiac disease attending a support group in the St. Louis area were recently given samples of an experimental gluten-free beer developed by Anheuser-Busch.
UPDATE: Gluten-free beers aren’t going to be as popular as light beer or even porters, but with 1-in-133 Americans with celiac disease combined with thousands, perhaps millions, of autistic kids on gluten-free diets who will begin reaching the age of majority in the coming years, and you’ve got a sizable little market that’s likely to emerge. So look for many more gluten-free beers in the market soon.