I sat down with the owner of Departed Soles, Brian Kulbacki, to learn about his brewery.
Drinking Busch Light before the age of 21 made Brian Kulbacki never want to drink light beer again. Departed Soles Brewery opened in the summer of 2015 in the Art District of Jersey City. It is New Jersey’s first craft brewery offering beer with 100% gluten-free ingredients.
“I got really tired of drinking that crap that was available to him [Brian’s best friend] on the market at the time,” said Kulbacki, owner of Departed Soles. “When I finally decided to start home brewing my goal was to brew something that the both of us could enjoy.”
It wasn’t until his best friend was diagnosed with Celiac’s Disease that he finally started home brewing. He began with gluten free from the beginning. In 2010, Kulbacki’s best friend passed away in a car accident. The accident pushed Kulbacki to leave his job to chase both of their dreams of opening a brewery.
In 2012, Kulbacki decided to apply to the American Brewers Guild school for Intensive Brewing Science and Engineering. He knew he was going to start a gluten-free craft brewery and was the first brewer specializing in gluten-free beer to graduate the school.
When I think of gluten-free beer, the first thought is usually a cider beer, like Angry Orchard. Beer is not typically an option for those that are gluten free. Departed Soles is the only brewery in the Northeast that brews 100% gluten-free beer on the premises.
I ordered a flight for $15, which includes four, seven-ounce samples of any of the beers that they have on tap for that day. A pint of any beer is also included in the price and a customer gets it after they finish the flight. My personal favorite was the Blonde.
Kulbacki’s beers can be found all over the state of New Jersey and is carried in the most popular bars in Jersey City.
Only six months after being open, his Dark Night IPA, which is gluten free, won a bronze medal at the World Beer Cup. It was beaten by two foreign beers.“I got to say for a long time that we are the best gluten-free beer brewed in America,” said Brian.
Hudson County is a very diverse area and Kulbacki’s goal is to make the brewery the “neighborhood brew pub.” Even animals play a role in the business. When entering the brewery, the first thing that meets customers at the door is Kulbacki’s Australian Shepherd, Bogan. Bogan has a beer named after him that is a 10% Barleywine.
Departed Soles is a dog-friendly brewery so Bogan can play. Kulbacki’s goal is make the brewery as comfortable and welcoming as possible. “Bogan is a beer that we released at the very end of October,” said Kulbacki. “We are donating 100% of the proceeds from that beer to the local animal shelter.”
Kulbacki’s brewery offers a variety of options for everyone. Whether someone is gluten free or not, Departed Soles has a beer for everyone. I know I’ll be going back just for Bogan, but the beer is a bonus too.