Is beer made without wheat safe to drink on a wheat free diet?
This is a tough question to answer, but generally, no.
The problem is that normally the same milling equipment is used for milling all the grains a brewery uses, so for example, if a wheat beer being made and wheat is being milled then the grain mill will most likely still contain some particles of wheat after the milling process has been completed.
Then the next beer made, even if it doesn't contain wheat, but barley or rye, and is milled using the same equipment, then there will be wheat in the milled grain in that batch.
It's also important to note that companies supplying the grain to breweries have the potential to cross-contaminate the grains supplied, either during storage, transport, or from the original source point, the granery supplying the grain.
Also, wheat dust can remain in the air for some considerable time, which is why bakeries using wheat shouldn't also make gluten free items in the same kitchen, as it's never guaranteed as a wheat free atmosphere. This is the same for breweries, and some people are extremely sensitive to even the tiniest amounts of wheat.
Unless a brewery has a completely separate process and equipment for wheat free beers, and a rigorous cleaning regime between each brew, then those beers can't be guaranteed wheat free, and having worked in a brewery for several years I've seen firsthand that it's just not feasible to be absolutely 100% certain that no wheat contamination has occurred.
But the good thing is that there are a lot of wheat/gluten free beers now available, and the prices are coming down as the popularity goes up. Plus they no longer taste like the insipid brews of many years ago, now you can find lagers, IPAs, bitters, and all things in between to satisfy the discerning wheat allergy or celiac beer loving palate.
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Last updated: 09/17/2014