Central City Brewers + Distillers boss Darryll Frost promotes new SFU research project on autism

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      Normally, journalists don’t show up when a new brand of beer is launched. But on May 16 in North Surrey, The Jeff O’Neil Show on CFOX FM broadcast live from Central City Brewers + Distillers for the unveiling of Red Racer Maple Bacon Breakfast Ale.

      Central City’s president and founder, Darryll Frost, was delighted by the media coverage, but it wasn’t the only thing on his mind that day.

      He also squeezed in a meeting with Simon Fraser University officials about another pressing concern: an upcoming company fundraiser for autism research.

      Later that afternoon in an interview with the Georgia Straight at the brewery, Frost took a sip of the new beer, smiled, and talked about his son Callum, who’s nearly five years old.

      The boy was diagnosed two-and-a-half years ago with Pervasive Development Disorder—Not Otherwise Specified, which is commonly called autism. And Frost is convinced that in some instances, children can recover from it.

      “Bear in mind that I’m a dad with an autistic son—not a doctor, not a scientist, but I’m heavily engaged,” Frost said.

      After Callum’s diagnosis, Frost and his wife, Lee, put the boy on the Gut and Psychology Syndrome diet. It was developed by U.S. pediatrician Sidney Valentine Haas, a pioneer in treating celiac disease.

      “You’re not allowed to have anything processed, anything synthetic,” Frost said. “It’s either from the garden or it’s from the ocean or it’s from the land. Nothing out of a tin.”

      Frost said that since Callum was put on the diet, he has shown stunning progress. At two-and-a-half years of age, he was banging his head and unresponsive.

      Callum remained nonverbal until he was four years old, but that’s no longer the case. Today, his behaviour is that of a “typical child”, according to his father.

      “We changed his diet radically,” Frost said. “We noticed straight away, within days and weeks, that he was calming down.”

      Frost is convinced that Callum’s neurological problems are linked to a lack of certain microbes in his gut.

      “If that flora is absent, effectively you’re poisoning yourself because there’s nothing breaking down the food,” Frost said.

      Last year, UBC microbiologist Brett Finlay told the Straight that he’s “sure a subset of cases of autism” are linked to the digestive tract. He said at the time that healthy brains require molecules produced by microbes in this part of the body. “If you don’t have [these] bugs in the gut, you don’t get normal brain development,” Finlay maintained.

      The Frosts noticed that their son’s brain functioning also appeared to improve after he received hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

      They’ve been doing this with Callum since hearing about a British child whose autism symptoms diminished after this treatment following a motor-vehicle accident.

      Frost said that he’s heard that autistic children on the Gut and Psychology Syndrome diet benefit from hyperbaric oxygen therapy, so his company hopes to raise $400,000 to test this hypothesis.

      Central City recently released Imperial IPA for Autism beer, with $2 from each bottle going to fund a four-year clinical trial at SFU. And on Saturday (May 24), a fundraiser will auction paintings by famed wildlife artist Robert Bateman, landscape artist Renato Muccillo, and B.C. artists Nikol Haskova and Rod Charlesworth, as well as a hospitality suite at a Vancouver Canucks game donated by Molson Coors Canada.

      “A lot of the experience that we have comes from parents, so we’re just following that path,” Frost said. “Our piece of the puzzle that we wish to lay in the path is hyperbaric oxygen therapy.”

      Central City Brewers + Distillers will hold its second annual Evening for Autism on Saturday (May 24) at 6:30 p.m. in the main hall at SFU’s Surrey campus (13450 102nd Avenue). Tickets cost $100. See pages 29 to 35 for more articles on the beer industry.

      Central City is donating $2 for every bottle of this beer to fund autism research.