Dedicated Gluten Free Brewery Rebrands
Oklahoma’s only Celiac-safe brewery has undergone some changes recently…
Some of you may have noticed that one of our country’s newest dedicated gluten free breweries just changed their name. I noticed when their branding underwent a swift transition on social media. Their cans began to display the words NEFF Brewing, with their former name (New Era Fine Fermentations) taking a back seat. The rebranding caught my attention and it got me wondering…WHY?
Well…my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to reach out to Neff Brewing’s founder to get the story behind the name change. Was the original name too long? Had there been a legal dispute? Ownership change?
The following interview is with Jonathan Neff, the founder/CEO/head brewer of New Era Fine Fermentations (now NEFF Brewing). Read on to learn about the reason for the rebranding and what we have to look forward to over at NEFF Brewing in the coming year.
New Era Fine Fermentations → NEFF Brewing
Interview: Jonathan Neff
Founder / CEO / Head Brewer
First, let’s get down to business…
Your gluten free brewery New Era Fine Fermentations just underwent a name change, and is now known as Neff Brewing. Why did you rebrand?
Jonathan: A certain company, won’t say which, hit us with a SLAPP suit. Although we were granted our trademark and the trademark office saw no conflict, the other company claimed “famous mark”. If we could afford to go to court, then we would win according to our trademark attorneys, however we cannot afford to do that. So, the big guys forced us to change our name. We are now NEFF Brewing with the phrase “a new era of fine fermentations” as a secondary slogan to our main slogan, “brewed for everyone”. Supposedly, we can use the sentence as an explanation of the N.E.F.F. acronym.
Should customers expect any other changes at the brewery outside of the logo and can redesign?
Jonathan: The 12oz cans already have the new logo. The crowlers have just been redesigned to have the same logo as the 12oz cans. No other changes will be made to the business, just our name. We’re still brewed for everyone, strive to be inclusive, and of course we will always be dedicated gluten free.
Which beers do you package and how far do you distribute?
Jonathan: Currently we package our Apollo Blonde Ale and our Ignition Switch Belgian Pale Ale in 4 packs of 12 oz. cans. We also distribute crowlers of various beers to WholeFoods. Currently we are only available in the greater Tulsa area, though we hope to be distributing across the state next year and we hope to be distributing out of state soon after that. We have 3 more beers going into cans in spring 2020 for a total of 5 different beers in cans.
What’s new at the brewhouse? Any exciting Neff-creations we should be looking forward to this coming year?
Jonathan: As always, our pilot brewing system (1 bbl) is consistently cranking out experimental recipes. Our latest being an imperial pumpkin ale, a lemon & dill saison, and an imperial stout aged on vanilla beans, oak, and locally roasted coffee. We try to have a new beer on tap in the taproom at least once or twice a month.
We’re also planning a small barrel aging program so next winter we’ll have all sorts of deliciousness to keep you warm.
Our canning and distribution is set to expand in spring 2020, we expect the 12oz 4 packs to include: Apollo Blonde Ale, Ignition Switch Belgian Style Pale Ale, Raspberry Pride Fruited Kettle Sour, Astronaut Cookies Oatmeal Stout, and Houston We Have a Problemo Mexican Lager. No doubt we’ll have an IPA in the can line up soon as well.
Now, let’s get a little more personal…
Are you yourself, gluten free? When did you transition to a gluten free lifestyle?
Jonathan: Yes! I was diagnosed with celiacs disease in 2012.
How strict are you with your gluten free diet?
What’s it like to be gluten free in Oklahoma?
Jonathan: It is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, we are offering a product previously unavailable in the area giving people with gluten-intolerance and celiacs disease a safe place to eat and drink. On the other hand the stigma of gluten-free items tasting bad is difficult to overcome. We are trying to destigmatize gluten-free and show everyone that just because it’s gluten-free does not mean it is flavor free. Our beer can stand along side any other craft beer around, our beer just so happens to be gluten free.
What is your beer brewing background? (Glutenous vs. gluten free brewing)
Jonathan: Self-taught. I have a background in chemistry and engineering, and then began home-brewing almost immediately after my diagnosis. I started trying to brew with barley using enzymes to reduce the gluten and I quickly found that was not enough and I was still having reactions. I was so very thankful when I found gluten-free malts were available.
What do you love most about brewing beer?
Jonathan: Two things specifically, the actual process of producing the beer from inspiration of flavor/style ideas to the execution of the beer on the brewhouse. Secondly, seeing people’s faces when they drink the creations. Both those who are gluten-intolerant finally finding a craft beer they can enjoy with others, and the craft-beer aficionados who can’t believe the beer is gluten free because it tastes good.
What’s the most challenging (gluten free) beer style you’ve brewed to date?
Jonathan: Imperial stouts, it’s just so hard to get the mouthfeel right and to get the brewing efficiencies high enough to make the beer affordable.
Where do you see the gluten free beer industry in 5-10 years? What changes would you like to see?
Jonathan: I see (or hope to see) the gluten-free beer industry culturally melding with the gluten-full beer industry. I would love for people who do not have a gluten allergy to pick up a can of GF beer, not care that it’s GF, and buy it just because they like how it tastes. GF beer is made from different malts, but that doesn’t mean it’s only for one sort of people. It’s still beer!
If you could have any gluten free beer (in the world) in your hand right now, which would it be?
Jonathan: I’d be very curious to try a mixed fermentation beer, or wild ale. I don’t currently have the ability to brew those on site without risking our other beers. Any recommendations? I also wouldn’t turn down a can of It Came from the Haze from Ghostfish, or the Red Rocks Amber from Holidaily.
How can readers in Oklahoma find your beer?
Jonathan: The best way for Oklahomans to find our beer is on the beerfinder tab of our webpage: https://www.neffbrewing.com/beer-finder/. We update our beerfinder weekly to show all the various bars, restaurants, liquor stores, and grocery stores that stock our beer.
Do you have an online retailer for your beer?
Jonathan: We do not. It is nearly impossible for us to do so with the current liquor laws in Oklahoma.
Thank you for spending some time with Best Gluten Free Beers Jonathan, and for catching us up on the story behind NEFF Brewing’s name change!
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