Savor a well-made brew without upsetting your tummy by reaching for a gluten-free beer!
Beer usually consists of water, yeast, hops, and wheat or barley, a recipe that has existed for thousands of years. Barley and wheat, however, contain gluten.
If you have celiac disease, as I do, then gluten-free craft beer represents a welcome new product. But, what beers are gluten-free? Below, Winning Homebrew presents some of the best gluten-free beers and provides insight into the gluten content of some of the most popular beers on the market.
Types of Gluten-free Beer
In 2005, the U.S. government labeled New Grist, a beer brewed by the Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee, WI, as America’s first entry in the gluten-free beer category. Since then, more than 30 American breweries have started producing gluten-free beer. Check out our reviews of the best beers available in the gluten-free world.
Ghostfish Shrouded Summit Belgian White Ale
Produced by the Ghostfish Brewing company in Seattle, Washington, this gluten-free brew can challenge any Belgian Wheat Beer (witbier) on the beer scene. The Shrouded Summit Belgian White Ale is made from a combination of millet, buckwheat, and rice and gives off the essence of juniper and citrus. It’s available in 12-ounce cans and possesses 4.8% ABV and an IBU of 20.
The brewery also produces seasonal and year-round beers with spicy, sour, and stout notes, as well as a pumpkin ale. Remember to check for seasonal beers that remain gluten-free.
Tasting Notes: Traditional Belgian-style ale with intense flavors of banana, clove, and sweet orange.
Glutenberg Blonde Ale
A gluten-free beer produced in Quebec, Canada, by the Glutenberg microbrewery, Glutenberg Blonde Ale delivers a grainy, balanced taste. This golden beer is made from naturally gluten-free alternative grains, like buckwheat, corn, millet, quinoa, and amaranth, and hit the shelves in 2012. It contains 4.5% ABV and an IBU of 15.
The Glutenberg Blonde Ale has remained popular ever since its first production. The brewery also produces a few IPAs, an American pale ale, and a wheatless blanche inspired by Belgian wheat ales.
Tasting Notes: Mixture of aromas, including white pepper, lemon zest, and floral hops; Tastes of citrus, white flowers, and spicy flavors; Hint of bitterness balances out the sweetness of millet and corn.
Holidaily Brewing Co.
Based in Colorado, the Holidaily Brewing Co. emerged as the first gluten-free brewery in the state and continues to operate as the largest such brewery in the U.S. With multiple awards under its belt, the company continues to grow and expand its distribution centers across the country.
The company produces other gluten-free brown and red ales, a dunkelweizen, and a bourbon-barreled imperial stout. The brewery’s Boombastic Hazy IPA won gold at the 2019 Great American Beer Festival and represents a great choice if you have celiac disease but can’t hold back on your love for beer.
Most gluten-free products have ABV contents below 6% with varying IBU values, depending on the type of brew. The Favorite Blond Ale serves as the flagship beer of the company.
Tasting Notes: Many of the Holidaily Brewing Company’s gluten-free beers taste like caramel and toasted malt.
Based in Oregon, the Omission Brewing Co. produces barley beers that fall into the reduced-gluten category. The company follows a transparent model by informing its customers regarding the specific gluten content in its products, with gluten content remaining consistently below ten ppm.
With its fruity notes and hoppy essence, the Omission Lager presents beer lovers with a unique choice of gluten-free beer that tastes crisp and refreshing. Brewed with Millenium and Cascade hops, it won several awards against other lagers in its peer group. It contains 4.6% ABV with an IBU score of 20.
Tasting Notes: Smells like sweet biscuits with a pleasant hoppy aroma that includes hints of pine and citrus notes; Sweet taste with flavors of orange and grapefruit.
Ipswich Ale Brewery Celia Saison
The Ipswich Ale Brewery in Massachusetts enjoys a reputation for producing a fine selection of tasty fruit beers, ales, and crisp pilsners. The Ipswich Celia Saison represents a gluten-free, non-seasonal beer that derives its name from the Styrian Celia hops used in the brewing process. This farmhouse-style ale has an ABV content of 6.5%.
Brewed from sorghum, the ale remains naturally free of gluten and gives off a faintly spicy and hoppy taste. The Ipswich Celia Saison stays true to the Belgian-inspired saison-style and delivers the tang of orange and a grainy texture.
Tasting Notes: Floral smell with hints of orange and pepper in the background; Subdued flavor with orange and pepper notes mixed with Belgian yeast.
Brewed by the Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the New Grist gluten-free pilsner emerged in 2005. Brewed from sorghum and rice, it possesses a golden yellow tinge and a tart, fruity flavor. Clear and crisp, this beer also presents a malty background taste that lingers on the palate.
The company tests each batch of New Grist beer for gluten content before releasing it for distribution. With 5.1% ABV and an IBU score of 10, you’ll find it suits your taste if you like most pilsners and even provides a drinkable option for beer-lovers who do not fancy sorghum-brewed beers.
Tasting Notes: Mild aroma as noted in many saison ales; Slight scent of tart fruit; Balanced sweetness and a fruity essence that tastes even, sharp, and crisp.
Two Brothers Prairie Path Golden Ale
Based in Chicago, Illinois, Two Brothers Artisan Brewing started under the guidance of two brothers and remains family-owned and operated to this day. Along with various other beers, the Two Brothers Artisan Brewery also produces the Prairie Path Golden Ale, a reduced-gluten beer with a 5.1% ABV and 25 IBUs.
The Prairie Path Golden Ale combines a balanced texture and a fruity zip that complements its creamy and mellow aftertaste. It pours a golden color with a white head.
Tasting Notes: Aroma of toasted grain, mild hops, malt, and light Belgian notes; Mild sweetness balances out the slight bitterness; Notes of hay, grain, grass, and citrus; Malty background.
Green’s Gluten-free Beers
Crafted by the Belgian brewer Green, Green’s Gluten-free Beers come in five different styles: Discovery Amber Ale, Endeavour Dubbel Ale, India Pale Ale, Quest Tripel Ale, and Enterprise Dry-hopped Lager. Made with millet, sorghum, rice, and buckwheat, all of these ales come free of gluten and present a viable option for vegetarians as well.
Green’s IPA won two gold stars at the 2015 Great Taste Awards. Judges complimented its “pleasant” and “clean, floral bitter flavor.” While containing 5% ABV, Green’s IPAs emit a comforting, pear-like aroma and offer a flowery, bitter marmalade taste.
Tasting Notes: Blended scent of spice, citrus, fruity hops, and a multi-grain maltiness; Light, fruity taste with lingering spice notes and a hint of bitterness.
Stone Brewing Delicious IPA
Based in California, Stone Brewing produces a wide variety of IPAs that range from bold to well-balanced. Stone Brewing released the Delicious IPA in 2015 with a 7.7% ABV and 75 IBUs.
True to its name, Stone Brewing Delicious IPA proves delicious and represents a great beer that can hold its own against all other gluten-free beers.
Brewed using a combination of Calypso, Nugget, El Dorado, and Lemondrop hops, this IPA offers a citrusy taste and a dry, bitter finish. It follows the reduced-gluten trend and remains a favorite up and down the west coast.
Tasting Notes: Aroma of spicy, herbal, and citrusy hops balanced with toasted malt; Offers a hoppy taste with hints of lemongrass.
Neumarkter Lammsbräu Pure Lager
Based in Neumarkt, Germany, the Lammsbräu Brewery builds on its nearly four-centuries-long brewing tradition of producing quality organic beers. Neumarkter Lammsbräu Pure Lager represents one of the finest gluten-free, organic pilsners on the gluten-free beer market with a 4.8% ABV.
This gluten-free beer is brewed with only four ingredients—organic barley malt, mineral water, organic hops, and yeast—and remains a popular favorite of the German masses. It provides a clean, crisp taste with hints of toasted malt, all while retaining the taste of traditional beer.
Tasting notes: It tastes like a hoppy and yeasty brew with an otherwise clean flavor; the aroma resembles gluten-rich beer.
The Process of Brewing Beer
Brewing beer involves a long, complex process that centers around fermentation. It uses yeast to aid fermentation, turning grain-based sugars into alcohol. Understanding the process of brewing beer will help you appreciate the work that goes into every bottle. Read on to discover more about the four main ingredients involved in brewing beer.
- Water – The main ingredient of beer, making up 90% of the end product
- Yeast – A type of fungus, digests the sugar in grains to produce alcohol
- Hops – Derived from the plant Humulus lupulus, adds a bitter element to beer
- Grain – The primary source of sugar required during the process of fermentation.
Most beers contain gluten because brewers use grains like barley, rye, and wheat. However, a few breweries use millet, buckwheat, rice, corn, amaranth, and other grains to brew gluten-free beers.
Gluten in Different Types of Beer
Gluten can cause several problems in individuals in the beer community with gluten intolerance. It may cause people with celiac disease to suffer intestinal damage, weight loss, diarrhea, malabsorption of nutrients, and more. This makes it essential for people with celiac disease or a gluten allergy to avoid gluten by remaining informed about the gluten content in their food and drink.
Many countries require food and beverages to contain less than 20 ppm (parts per million) of gluten to qualify for the gluten-free tag. Most beers contain higher amounts of gluten than the required 20 ppm, although the difference in the gluten content of each beer boils down to the brewing process and the ingredients used.
Consider the gluten content of the four popular types of beer listed below:
- Lager- 63 ppm
- Wheat beer – 25,920 ppm
- Ale – 3,120 ppm
- Stout – 321 ppm
All of the above-listed beers far exceed the recommended gluten content and present an unsafe drinking option for people with celiac disease.
Difference Between Gluten-reduced and Gluten-free Beers
When shopping for gluten-free beers, you’ll notice some brands displaying the gluten-reduced label on their bottles. If you have gluten intolerance or celiac disease, you should understand the difference between the two types of beers.
Gluten-free beers represent those that contain 0% gluten. This implies that the ingredients used to brew these beers have no gluten content in them.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration extends this classification to “an ingredient derived from grains, and that has been processed to remove gluten if it results in the food containing 20 or fewer parts per million (ppm) gluten.”
Any food or beverage created from gluten-containing ingredients qualifies as gluten-free if the company later removes enough gluten to bring the beer below 20 ppm.
Gluten-reduced beers undergo a process that includes adding an enzyme, such as Brewers Clarex or Clarity Ferm, to remove excess gluten.
Frequently Asked Questions about Gluten-free Beers
At Winning Homebrew, we receive a lot of questions regarding gluten-free beers. Below, we’ve compiled the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.
How Is Gluten-free Beer Made?
Breweries utilize one of two processes to manufacture gluten-free beer. The first process uses malt from naturally gluten-free cereals, like sorghum, millet, buckwheat, rice, quinoa, or corn.
The second method involves producing a beer using gluten-containing malts like wheat, rye, or barley and introducing an enzyme during the fermentation process to reduce the gluten content.
Is Gluten-free Beer Safe for People with Celiac Disease?
Made from gluten-free grains instead of wheat or barley, gluten-free beers represent a safe drinking option for celiac disease or gluten intolerance issues.
Does Gluten-free Beer Reduce Bloating?
Although no research demonstrates the benefits of gluten-free beers, many people who drink gluten-free beer attest to the fact that gluten-free products help reduce bloating.
The core ingredients in some gluten-free beers, like sorghum and millet, offer well-known health benefits, such as reducing fatigue levels in people who consume them.
What Removes Gluten from Beer?
The primary ingredients of altered and gluten-removed beers that contain barley, wheat, and rye undergo an enzyme treatment during the fermentation process.
The enzyme breaks down the protein chains that make up gluten. This helps gluten-removed beers classify as gluten-free beers according to the classification provided by the FDA.
So Which Gluten-free Beer Should You Choose?
Gluten-reduced beers enjoy an edge over gluten-free beers because they taste more like traditional beers brewed from wheat, barley, or rye. However, gluten-reduced beers may not represent the safest option for people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease.
Instead, opting for 100% gluten-free beers made from ingredients like millet, buckwheat, sorghum, corn, or rice represents the safest option.
Although commercial gluten-free brewing presents a formidable challenge because of the cost of the ingredients and the sanitizing equipment required, a fair number of breweries produce gluten-free beers on a large scale.
These breweries ensure that the tag ‘gluten-free’ does not necessarily imply a lack of taste. You’ll find plenty of great-tasting, gluten-free beers available in stores and online.
We hope this article helped shed a little light on the gluten-free beer industry and how it presents a viable option for beer-lovers who suffer from celiac disease. If you still don’t know which gluten-free beer brands to try, purchase a few bottles of the original gluten-free beer: New Grist.