If you are thinking about giving up gluten you may wonder, does beer have gluten? The answer is that yes beer definitely does contain gluten.
Having said that some beers have more gluten than others, some have a low enough amount to be considered gluten-reduced and are able to be consumed by most people with sensitivities and intolerances to gluten, and there are also beers that are 100% gluten-free.
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Why Does Beer Have Gluten?
The 4 main ingredients of beer are water, yeast, hops, and barley (or wheat). Of course, there is no gluten in water, and yeast and hops are gluten-free, however barley and wheat both contain gluten.
How Much Gluten is in Beer?
That is a difficult question to answer as it is impossible to narrow down an exact number as it depends on the number of grains used in the brewing process as well as the type of grains.
There are some general rules, however. Typically lagers have less gluten in them because many lagers especially commercial brands use more rice in the brewing process. Many lagers actually contain less than 20 ppm (parts per million) which, as we will look at in more detail further in this post, falls within the level of being considered gluten-free according to the FDA.
Stouts are next on the list and typically have a little bit higher ppm than lagers, followed by Ales, and then of course Wheat beers have the highest amount of gluten in them.
Beer that is brewed using gluten-free grains can be classified as 100% gluten-free beer. With these beers, you have no worries that there could be traces of gluten in them.
Instead of using barley or wheat these types of beers use grains such as rice, maize, buckwheat, sorghum, and quinoa to name a few.
At the moment due to the lower demand for them, these beers typically do cost more than regular beer. You will also notice that they do not typically taste like beer that contains gluten, in many cases, you will find they taste sweeter and tend to not have as much carbonation.
For example, beer made from buckwheat will have a smaller head formation, beers made from quinoa have a unique odor and many people find sorghum beers to be much sweeter.
The main difference between gluten-free and gluten-reduced beers is that the latter originally had gluten in them. They were brewed with grains containing gluten after which an enzyme is added to it to reduce the gluten and lower its ppm.
As per FDA standards, any beer with 20 ppm or less of gluten can be considered gluten-free, however in reality it is gluten-reduced.
It is important to understand that if you are celiac you still may not be able to drink gluten-reduced beers and it is best to check with your physician before trying them.
Gluten-Free Beer Brands
Gluten-free beer is growing in popularity around the world and as they grow in popularity their taste is also improving. Some existing breweries are adding gluten-free beers to their existing offerings and other breweries are 100% committed to brewing only gluten-free beer.
Here is a list of just some of the popular gluten-free beers from around the world:
- Redbridge Lager brewed in Missouri USA by Anheuser-Busch
Copperhead Ale brewed in Wisconsin USA by Alt Brew
- Massager Millet Lager brewed in Quebec Canada by Microbrasserie Nouvelle France
- Forager Amber Pale Ale brewed in BC Canada by Whistler Brewing Company
- Pale Ale brewed in Australia by Wild Polly Brewing Co
- Buckwit Belgian Witbier brewed in Colorado USA by Holiday Brewing Co
Delicious IPA brewed in the USA by Stone Brewing Co. (gluten-reduced)
- Grapefruit IPA in Seattle USA by Ghostfish Brewing Co.
Alt Brew No.01 in Seaham UK by Autumn Brewing Co
- Suffolk Gold in Suffolk UK by St, Peter’s Brewery
How to Make Gluten-Free Beer
If you are interested in making your own gluten-free beer you have a few options available to you:
The first would be to buy a gluten-free beer kit from a homebrew store or online. Instead of having malt extract in the kits, the extract is typically a mixture of sorghum syrup and hops. They also come with the yeast required to ferment the beer.
Your second option, if you want to make all-grain beer instead of using a kit, would be to brew your beer using grains that do not contain gluten. A bit of research will be required, but you will want to stay clear of barley and wheat. Rice along with corn, buckwheat, and millet are popular choices. You can find many recipes online for gluten-free beers. You can learn how to make all-grain beer here.
Your third option is to brew an all-grain beer as you typically would and then simply add a product called clarity ferm to it, which is an enzyme that reduces the level of gluten to under 20 ppm resulting in the beer meeting the FDA standards for being considered gluten-free. Any of these all-grain recipes will work well.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein in barley, wheat, and rye. In essence, it acts like a glue that holds many foods together and allows them to maintain their form. Many people have gluten sensitivities and some people have a disease called Celiac disease which is an autoimmune disease where their body treats gluten like a poison which results in it attacking the small intestine and can lead to serious illness. People with Celiac disease should avoid beer that has gluten.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is beer high in gluten?
It depends on the beer. Some beers are very high in gluten while others are low enough to be considered gluten-free. The problem is it is difficult to know how much gluten is actually in a beer. You can buy testing kits but there are many reports that indicate they are not that accurate. If you have concerns about gluten you should look for gluten-free or gluten-removed beer.
Does beer affect gluten intolerance?
Yes if the gluten levels are over 20 ppm they can cause problems for people who have an intolerance. If you have concerns you should speak with your physician before consuming beer.
What alcohol is gluten free?
Most liquor that is distilled is gluten-free; this would include alcoholic drinks such as rum, tequila, and vodka to name a few.
Hard cider is also usually gluten-free as it is brewed from apples and not gluten-containing grains like wheat and barley. Wine is also usually gluten-free.
However these are all just rules of thumb, if you have concerns you should always make sure the drink you are about to consume is indeed gluten-free first.
The bottom line is that beer does have gluten in it as a result of the grains traditionally used to brew it such as barley, wheat, and rye.
But nowadays there are plenty of gluten-free options available for people with gluten sensitivities and celiac disease. Most countries have strict standards that companies must abide by, so if a beer is labeled as being gluten-free or reduced you can feel quite confident that it is, however always check with your physician before consuming it if you have concerns.
Cheers, Big Robb is Out!
P.S. If you brew beer or want to start I recommend you take advantage of the opportunity to get the recipes to my top 5 best selling beers from my brewpub. By adding clarity ferm to them you can easily create gluten-reduced beer under 20 ppm. Details are on the side of the blog or at the bottom on your smart device. Enjoy!