These days, a lot of consumable products have gone gluten-free, or have a gluten-free version; and for good reason. According to health experts, up to 6% of the world’s population suffer from gluten sensitivity.
That may not seem like a large percentage, but when you consider how big Earth’s population is (7.8 billion) then you start to understand that even 6% is a lot of people. Others suffer from other illnesses that stop them from having gluten, like Celiac disease. Luckily, if you fall in these categories, but still love beer, you don’t have to go without it.
Unlike regular beer — which are made from either barley or wheat (both of these grains contain gluten) — gluten-free beer is made with different grains, such as rice, millet, and sorghum, which all don’t contain gluten. To help you choose the best gluten-free beer for you, we’ve created this guide!
What’s The Difference Between ‘Gluten-Removed’ & ‘Gluten-Free’?
Gluten-free beer is regulated by the FDA rather than the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), the regulatory agency for traditional beer. To be certified as gluten-free, beers must contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. Anything with a higher gluten ppm is labeled as “gluten-removed” or “gluten-reduced” and is not considered a truly gluten-free product.
Gluten-removed beer is made with traditional grains such as rye, barley, or wheat and then processed using an enzyme to digest the gluten particles into smaller fragments. While effective at lowering the gluten content, these beers run the risk of triggering an immune response in someone diagnosed with Celiac disease as well as those that report finding an intolerance to gluten products.
Until the effectiveness of the removal process can be scientifically validated with the resulting beer containing less than 20ppm of gluten, it is not recommended for people with severe gluten intolerance or allergies to consume beers classified as gluten-removed or gluten-reduced.
Gluten-Free Beer Types
Gluten-free beers are becoming increasingly popular offering a different taste profile to those able to enjoy a diet that includes gluten. Early gluten-free beers used sorghum in lieu of traditional grains, but many brewers have moved away from this method as the sorghum imparts a sour flavor to the finished product.
Many gluten free brewers now create flavorful ales, Belgian whites and India pale ales (IPAs) using creative ingredients and gluten-free grains like millet, rice, and corn.
Certain breweries are dedicated to running a gluten-free facility and do not have any gluten products. Gluten-free beers are becoming increasingly popular offering a different taste profile to those able to enjoy a diet that includes gluten. Early gluten-free beers used sorghum in lieu of traditional grains, but many brewers have moved away from this method as the sorghum imparts a sour flavor to the finished product.
Many gluten-free brewers now create flavorful ales, Belgian whites, and India pale ales (IPAs) using creative ingredients and gluten-free grains like millet, rice, and corn.
Certain breweries are dedicated to running a gluten-free facility and do not have any gluten products on the premises.
We’ve put together a list of some of the most popular gluten-free beers sold throughout the world below:
Hard-core brewer Matt DelVecchio was inspired to produce gluten-free beer once he was given a Celiac diagnosis. His San Diego brewery sources locally produced honey to make this sweetly scented, dry finishing beer. Part of the proceeds from Drink This or the Bees Die goes to the Planet Bee Foundation.
Founder Karen Hertz’s Holiday Brewing Company makes full-flavored, zero-gluten beer using native Colorado grains like millet and buckwheat. BuckWit Belgian, a citrusy witbier that scratches the Blue Moon itch, neatly integrates buckwheat’s nuttiness into the beer.
Dane Breimhorst and Tom Foss were a pair of fire-eating teens who met on the circus circuit during their teenage years. An adulthood reunion mixed with Breimhorst’s celiac diagnosis led the friends to launch Burning Brothers Brewing, a gluten-free brewery. The Roasted Coffee Strong Ale is a caramel accented ale, kicked up with cold-brew coffee.
Brewing a witbier without wheat makes about as much sense as making an omelet without eggs until you taste Blanche by Canadian brewery Glutenberg Craft Brewery. Re-creating the hazy Belgian witbier with quinoa, buckwheat, millet, and amaranth with a citrusy pop provides the perfect canvas for the style’s customary orange garnish.
For over two decades, Stone has brewed some of America’s finest IPAs, and Delicious continues their streak. Lemondrop and El Dorado hops give the gluten-reduced IPA a bouquet reminiscent of lemons crossed with watermelon Jolly Ranchers.
Ghostfish Brewing Company in Seattle is known for its adventurous gluten-free beers such as their fiery Ghost Pepper Saison. Their Grapefruit IPA utilizes buckwheat, millet, and brown rice, yielding in a bold and bitter brew with a live wire-wire citric jolt that will make any IPA junkie smile.
As spouses and co-owners, Odd13’s Kristin and Ryan Scott brew gluten-reduced beers to accommodate Kristin’s gluten-sensitivity. Codename: Superfan is a juicy fruit bomb and recognized as one of America’s best hazy IPAs, craft brewing’s hottest trend.
Brewing Gluten-Free Beer at Home
Gluten-free home brew kits can be found in specialty shops and online. Sweet sorghum syrup is usually the main carbohydrate source, and the kits contain yeast, hops, and other flavoring ingredients.
Recipes vary, but here is a basic guide to making a simple sorghum beer at home.
- Bring water to a boil and add the sorghum syrup.
- Add hops and boil for one hour.
- Turn off heat and stir in honey. Let cool.
- Transfer to a clean and sanitized fermenter. Add enough water to make the desired amount of beer, usually 5 gallons (19 liters). Discard the yeast.
- Ferment the beer and place it in sanitized bottles with corn sugar.
Enjoy Gluten-Free Beer Today!
Whether you purchase your gluten-free beer or decide to brew it yourself at home, the fact that it exists is incredible for those who have a gluten sensitivity or want to avoid it due to another illness.