One of the nation's largest beer brands is about to jump on the gluten-free craze. MillerCoors next month will begin marketing a "naturally gluten free" version of Coors called Coors Peak Copper Lager that will be sold in Seattle and Portland, the brewer confirmed to Ad Age.
"With more consumers living a gluten free-lifestyle, there are few satisfying choices in the beer category," the brewer stated in a memo shared with Ad Age that it plans to send to distributors today. "Our brewers have developed a proprietary brewing process that is specifically designed to deliver a 100% gluten free beer worthy of the Coors name."
Big food brands have increasingly added gluten-free offerings to their portfolios in recent years. But until now mainstream beer brands have largely stayed on the sidelines. Anheuser-Busch in 2006 launched a gluten-free brand called Redbridge that is made with sorghum and is available nationally. But it has remained a relatively niche brand.
MillerCoors plans to give some local marketing support to Peak in Seattle and Portland. WPP's Cavalry will handle the brand. But the brewer is not eyeing national distribution at the moment. "Given production limitations, there are currently no plans to expand beyond [Seattle and Portland]," the brewer stated in the distributor memo.
To make the beer gluten-free, Coors will replace barley with brown rice, malted brown rice and protein from peas, a spokesman said. The beer also must also be made separately from beers that contain gluten in order to comply with gluten-free certification rules.
In an email, MillerCoors described Coors Peak as a "light to medium-bodied crisp copper lager" with a "malty, slight caramel profile offset by subtly spicy hops and the finish is slightly bitter, crisp and perfectly balanced." The beer contains 170 calories per 12-ounce serving.
While big brewers have cautiously crept into the gluten-free beer segment, they have capitalized on the trend via their hard cider brands, which are naturally gluten free.