Wheat free & gluten free beers
The German Beer Purity Law (Reinheitsgebot) of 1516 stated that the only ingredients that could be used in beer production were water, barley, and hops. Note that yeast is not mentioned, it didn't arrive on the scene until 300 years later.
There are two popular reasons cited for the Reinheitsgebot:
- To prevent price competition with bakers for the more valuable wheat and rye.
- Because once the idea of beer caught on unscrupulous brewers were adding ingredients such as tree bark, fish bladders, eggs and who knows what else to their beer.
So in theory if the Reinheitsgebot was still adhered to today, and providing the supply of barley was pure, then people with wheat allergy or intolerance could drink any beer, unfortunately this though would still leave the coeliacs out in the (beerless) cold.
Sadly this isn't the case. Beer isn't just made from water, barley, and hops any more. It now has other ingredients, is often made from wheat, barley can usually no longer be guaranteed pure, and modern beers are often chock full of preservatives that will help make sure that your body will be better preserved than King Tut if you're dug up in a few millenia.
What do they use to make gluten free beer if they can't use barley (or wheat)? Generally gluten free beers are made with buckwheat, sorghum or rice. (Note: buckwheat is a member of the rhubarb family, not related to wheat at all)
A few master brewers caught on to the fact that there was a very large beerless coeliac market that had been untapped and some very good gluten free beers have appeared on the market with the same alcohol contents of their wheat or barley containing cousins.
- Anheuser-Busch - Redbridge, lager brewed from sorghum.
- Bard's Tale Beer - Dragon's Gold, made from malted sorghum, yeast, hops and water. Bard's Beer was America's first craft-brewed gluten-free beer.
- Ramapo Valley Brewery - Honey Beer, made from honey, molasses & hops. This beer is also Kosher certified for Passover.
- Lakefront Brewery - New Grist - made from sorghum, hops, water, rice and yeast.
- Sprecher Brewery produce 2 gluten free beers: Mbege - brewed with sorghum, millet and real bananas; Shakparo - West African Shakparo-style beer brewed with sorghum and millet.
- Green's produce 8 different gluten free beers, lagers and ales: Mission - amber ale; Quest - blonde beer; Pathfinder - dark beer; Discovery - beer; Endeavour - dark beer; Herald - ale; Pioneer - lager; Trailblazer - lager. Although British they now have a US/Canada distributor.
- Goose Island Beer Co. - Queen-OA, available only on tap or in growlers at the Clybourn location. Made from quinoa, with grapefuit and orange peel notes. Not currently certified gluten free, but care taken to avoid cross-contamination.
- Les bières de la Nouvelle-France produce 2 beers: La Messagère - a pale ale with a bouquet of honey, and a touch of citrus fruits; La Messagère Red - made from water, rice syrup, rice malt, glucose extract, buckwheat, millet and hops, with a delicate, woodsy taste.
- Green's produce 8 different gluten free beers, lagers and ales: Mission - amber ale; Quest - blonde beer; Pathfinder - dark beer; Discovery - beer; Endeavour - dark beer; Herald - ale; Pioneer - lager; Trailblazer - lager.
- Hambleton Ales produce 2 gluten free beers: GFA - tawny ale; GFL - pale lager style beer.
- St Peter's Brewery produces a gluten free pilsner: G-Free? - lean, crisp gluten free ale with aromas of citrus and mandarin from American Amarillo hops.
- O'Brien Brewing produce 3 gluten free beers: Brown ale - old English dark ale; Premium lager; Pale ale - light golden ale.
- Silly Yaks - Aztec Gold, pale ale made from sorghum malt and amaranth.
- Carlsberg - Saxon, premium lager made with barley malt and hops, brewed with a process which removes the gluten normally present in beers.
- Heron confirmed they no longer produce their wheat and gluten free beer although they didn't give us the reason why.
- We can't confirm if BiAglut - 76 is still made.
Spirit and wine update coming soon...