Bard’s Tale Beer Company in Lees Summit, Missouri is the maker of one of the nation’s very first gluten-free beer. The company’s owners, Craig Belser and Kevin Seplowitz, both suffer from Celiac disease, an intolerance to gluten, and years ago they realized there were no truly gluten-free beers on the market. Wheat, barley, rye and other common ingredients in beer all contain glutens, so beer was unavailable to people suffering from celiacs.
After years of testing and formulating various cultivars of sorghum, they found the perfect variant to use for producing the malt they needed to produce a completely gluten free beer product. The result was a flavorful, enjoyable alternative for celiacs to enjoy beer, and their success has been tremendous. Using third party farmers, malt producers and brewers to produce their private label product, the company grew into a national brand.
Private labelling through third party providers was the ideal way for Bard’s to introduce their brand and prove its marketability, but it also limits their ability to be creative and produce a wider range of beer styles, such as light versions, stouts, IPA’s and so on. It also impacted their bottom line profitability. Based in Western Missouri, Bard’s is ideally located for the production of the sorghum their product is based on, and the company was looking for ways to take greater control of their product from farm to table; they wanted to produce the product themselves, which would give them the creative flexibility they needed to grow their brand. They contacted Missouri Enterprise for help.
“My first meeting with Missouri Enterprise immediately showed me I had made the right call,” says owner Craig Belser. “The first thing they did was introduce me to the Economic Development folks in my area, and a number of other important contacts, including the USDA. They helped me navigate the USDA’s Business and Industry Loan Guarantees Program, and that got us moving fast in the right direction. We’re in the process of moving from being a ‘virtual brewing company’ to a producer, and we couldn’t have done it without Missouri Enterprise. They’re great! They gave me good, practical business advice and continue to help me establish the groundwork for my process management and quality management systems.”
By working with the experts at Missouri Enterprise to set up their beer manufacturing facility from the ground up, Bard’s Tale Beer Company has dramatically reduced their originally projected startup costs and shortened their timeline significantly. “Missouri Enterprise has literally saved us hundreds of thousands of dollars with their expertise and guidance,” says Belser enthusiastically.