Grand Rapids has no shortage of beer for enthusiasts, but for the gluten-free it can feel like wandering through a desert with nothing to drink. Brewery Nyx, Michigan’s first dedicated gluten-free brewery and facility, intends to change that. With a portfolio spanning from IPAs to lagers to barrel-aged stouts, Brewery Nyx brings those who love beer but can’t enjoy it, back into the fold.
Founder Jessica Stricklen [pictured above] learned to love beer in Grand Rapids. She spent years honing her palate on local favorites, studiously unpacking pints to understand the underpinnings of good flavor. After a period of feeling ill, a naturopathic doctor put her on an elimination diet and Stricklen quickly realized that she and gluten did not agree. So she nixed it completely. A life without craft beer was tough at first but she’s figured out ways to adapt after going more than a decade gluten-free.
The change in lifestyle was eased in part by an abundance of gluten-free options Stricklen encountered when she moved to Portland, Oregon—a region ripe with wine. Working as the CFO at luxury brand, Beaux Frères Vineyards, Stricklen led the company through many of its successes and she developed a bedrock of knowledge on how to suss out quality in craft beverages.
But when wine wouldn’t scratch the itch, she turned to gluten-free pioneers like Ground Breaker Brewing and Ghostfish Brewing Company. These breweries proved that you didn’t need to sacrifice quality to meet dietary standards, and they inspired Stricklen to carry the gluten-free torch when she returned to Michigan.
“Moving back to Grand Rapids, I was frustrated with the continued lack of gluten-free beer options,” Stricklen said. “This is Beer City, USA, and this won’t do.”
Stricklen is confident that Nyx can go toe to toe with any “regular” brewery—and for good reason. The difference is in the grain. Brewery Nyx is committed to using premium millet, rice, and other grist that build a delicious foundation for their beer. No sorghum, no artificial additives, only the finest malt alternatives.
Stricklen has also brought on Sebastian Henao Van Bommel, former brewer at Thornapple Brewing, as partner and head brewer at Nyx. Van Bommel, a technical and creative brewer in equal measure, has invented new techniques when it comes to extracting flavor from raw materials. By untethering himself from craft beer’s norms he’s determined to shift perception on what gluten-free beer can be.
“There’s a lot of people who believe that beer made without malt, barley, wheat, or rye is somehow lesser,” Henao Van Bommel said. “I’m here to change their mind.”
Together, Stricklen and Henao Van Bommel hope to foster a community with those who may have felt excluded from the beer world. Going gluten-free is rarely easy. Shifts in shopping and restaurant habits can have a ripple effect on social outlets. Nyx offers a product you don’t need to compromise on.
Ultimately, Brewery Nyx welcomes more than the gluten-free drinker. Whether you’re gluten sensitive, fitness oriented, or a craft beer geek looking to try something new, there’s a place for Nyx at the table.