Gluten Free Beer

by Allergy Guy

Gluten free beer is an important consideration if you have a gluten allergy or celiac.

Most beer is made with gluten-containing wheat, or more often barley.  This has made drinking regular beer pretty much out of the question for many people.

As the number of people avoiding gluten rises rapidly, a relatively new market for gluten-free beer has been filled by a number of companies.

There are a number of types of gluten-free beer, and in some cases, the beer is not actually 100% gluten-free.  This is disturbing, as some companies prefer to argue that their low-gluten beer is safe to grab market share, rather than either properly label their beer, or reformulate it to be truly gluten-free.

Some countries, Australia for example, have a very strict definition of what can be called “gluten-free”: no detectable gluten in the food.  This sounds good, but as gluten tests become more sensitive, some foods, previously labeled gluten-free, will not longer meet the requirements.  Never the less, this is a good standard to aim for.

Other countries, such as UK, have a specific level below which the food can be labeled “gluten-free”: 20 ppm (parts per million).  Whether this is is a truly safe level or not can not be stated with 100% confidence.

Another consideration is that drinking enough beer that such low levels of gluten become a big problem probably mean that the intake of alcohol itself will be even more problematic. 

Since even tiny amounts of gluten can have serious long-term consequences for celiacs, all gluten is best avoided.

If you have a gluten allergy, then the amount of gluten you can tolerate is more at your discretion – if you don’t notice any symptoms, then you are probably fine.

Gluten free beer is usually made with pseudograins – grain-like crops such as sorghum, and buckwheat, as well as true cereals, such as rice and corn.

According to Wikipedia, some beers from England and Finland may be safe to drink even though they are not specifically labeled gluten-free. Some examples follow.  Make your own decision according to your own standards:

Beer

ppm

Against the Grain13
Koff20
Laitilan4
  

You may prefer to avoid all beers that are not specifically gluten-free by way of their ingredients, not their processing.

Some brands of beer use rice and barley.  They state that no gluten from the barley ends up in the beer, but there is no certainty that the resulting beer is truly safe for celiacs. Instead, they explain that the barley is converted into amino acids.


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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Making Beer August 25, 2011 at 06:30

Thanks for sharing.I was looking for this.

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2 Katharine November 27, 2010 at 08:30

Redbridge by Anheuser Busch is the best I’ve tried so far. I really enjoy it!

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3 Arja January 19, 2010 at 02:26

gluten free beers

We bought a test kit to give ideas if my husband has a celiac disease, The test was boaught in a pharmacy in Finland and performed by our friend who is a gastro-enterologist.The test came back as negative, My husband has been suffering from changes in his bowel habits for a good part of two years now, so we started a wheat free diet. Witt this the symptoms stay at bay nicely. We had our winter holiday in Finland recently and wanted to have some gluten free beer…my hubby tolerates Guinness or Murphy’s occasionally. We found a beer in Alko called LAITILAN KUKKO, which means THE COCKEREL OF LAITILA when translated. This was great and caused no problems whatsoever, the price was around 1.60 euro per 330 ml can, so not too bad really considering the price of gluten free products.If anyone is interested in trying this beer, post a comment in here and I’ll see if I could find someone to export it….The article above states Laitila’s beer as low, 4ppm so as it’s under 20ppm it is classed gluten free.
Even though my hubby may not have celiac, we use plenty of gluten free products as it makes life easier.
Finland, I must say, is a haven for celiacs as you find so many different breads and flours there clearly labelled…we live in Greece and reading the Greek ingredients’ bit in packages takes a bit of time.
Hope this comment was beneficial to someone!

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4 admin January 19, 2010 at 09:25

Finland sounds great for gluten free

Hi Arja,

Thanks for your comment about gluten free beer.

It’s great to know that Finland is easy for celiacs and those avoiding wheat. Sounds like a great vacation destination!

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