New Era Fine Fermentations is a gluten-free success

Everyone can enjoy the food and drink at downtown's new brewery and pub.



A New Era Fine Fermentations flight: Event Horizon, G-Force, Ignition Switch and Astronaut Cookies

Jonathan Neff can’t tell you how many times he has been to a bar with friends and ordered water.

After he was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2012, he began brewing his own beer. He got so good at it he decided to turn it into a business. And what started as an idea for a small-batch, niche brewery has turned into something bigger: New Era Fine Fermentations.

New Era, which opened in December, is equal parts brewery, tap room and restaurant — and it is entirely gluten-free.

“My understanding is we are the only dedicated gluten-free facility in Tulsa,” says Neff, head brewer, CEO and one of the owners of New Era.

The fact that it’s gluten-free is a huge draw to many. But Neff wanted New Era to be known as a great brewery and pub with or without the gluten-free tag. And making top-notch beer was the most important step.

“There’s no difference in taste. Our beers just happen to be made without gluten,” Neff says.

Rather than malts made from traditional barley, wheat or rye, New Era’s malts are made from millet, buckwheat, rice or quinoa. “So they’re naturally gluten-free,” Neff says. “We don’t use a process to remove the gluten.”

Neff started by taking his beers to local brew clubs and then to certified beer judges who helped to refine the flavors of the beers. New Era now has 10-12 beers on tap. And as word has gotten out about its gluten-free beer, New Era has begun distributing draft beer to a few other bars and restaurants in town. A few favorite drafts include Buckwheat Saison, Belgian Ignition Switch pale ale and Oatmeal Stout.

In the beginning, Neff assumed the food would be a secondary feature of New Era. He imagined a limited bar menu with a few gluten-free items. But once he brought on chef Michael Vernon, the menu grew.

“People who eat gluten-free want things that are generally off limits for them,” Neff says.

He and Vernon talked about beers to match classic pub food, and especially pub food that’s next to impossible to find gluten-free at any restaurant.

The top-selling item at New Era is the fish and chips, and for good reason. English Style Fish and Chips ($13) are beer-battered filets, and the result is a light and tasty fried cod.

Another food that’s hard to find when you’re gluten-free is fried chicken. But you won’t miss the flour in New Era’s Fried Chicken ($12), with a tangy buttermilk batter. Diners can only get this on Thursdays, served with mashed potatoes and broccoli. The seasonal menu rotates every few months.

Customers at the bar have been loving snackable food like the nachos and spinach-artichoke dip. Another favorite is the street tacos (inexpensive at just $4 and $5 each), which come in chicken, flank steak or a vegetarian option.

Street tacos at New Era

New Era rolled out its weekend brunch menu this spring with dishes you can’t believe are gluten-free, like chicken and waffles and buttermilk lemon pancakes.

“We’ve had several times where customers don’t believe it’s gluten free,” Neff says. “They say, ‘But it tastes good. How can that be?’”

New Era’s desserts change seasonally, but we hope the flourless chocolate cake ($7) stays on all year.

Diners order at the counter and are alerted when their food is ready. One awkward step in ordering is that food and drinks are ordered at different counters. So once food has been ordered, you then walk over to the bar to order drinks. This can be a bit halting when lines are long in both places on busy nights.

New Era is located just south of the Boxyard, an area quickly growing with more breweries and restaurants.

 

New Era Fine Fermentations

321 S. Frankfort Ave. | 918-367-0640 | neffbrewing.com

11 a.m.-10 p.m., Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-midnight, Friday-Saturday; noon-6 p.m., Sunday.

 

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