Wheat & 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 celiacs 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, millet or rice. (Note: buckwheat is a member of the rhubarb family, not related to wheat at all).

There are also beers appearing on the market that have been brewed with barley, then using an enzymatic process the gluten is reduced to levels below the Gluten Codex of 20ppm. These are not "certified gluten free", but are "gluten reduced". Omission Beer, for example, has been given the Celiac Sprue Association's Recognition Seal of Approval as being risk free for celiacs.


In recent years breweries have caught on to the fact that there was a very large beerless celiac market that had been left untapped. As a result some very good gluten free beers have appeared on the market, with the same alcohol content of their gluten containing cousins.

US:

  • Anheuser-Busch:
    Redbridge - lager brewed from sorghum

  • Bard's Tale Beer:
    Dragon's Gold - made from malted sorghum, Bard's Beer was America's first craft-brewed gluten-free beer

  • Brewery Rickoli (not currently certified gluten free):
    Aldo Red - red ale
    Black Irish Dry Stout - excellent for REAL Black & Tan beers
    Disturbed Reflection Imperial IPA - very PLINY 9.7%
    Elke Brown Ale - American brown ale
    Enormous Richard - double strength cream ale 8.6%
    Hop Session IPA - full hop flavor and body
    Meh! - most excellent cream ale
    Monolith - large, black, formidable 12%
    Old Rickoli Barleywine - strong and barrel aged 11.5%
    Rickoli’s Rye Stout - robust, spicy and roasty
    Riiiiiight? - refreshing summer ale with rye and caraway
    Social Lubricant Scotch Ale - traditional Scotch ale 8.0%
    The Black Pline - imperial black IPA 9.8%
    Thrilla in Vanilla - rye stout with vanilla
    Totally Eye-P-A - flagship IPA
    Freshly brewed craft beer where all the beers not containing wheat are gluten reduced to less than 5ppm using an enzyme process.

  • Burning Brothers Brewing:
    American Pale Ale - light, fruity beer with hints of orange and grapefruit
    Cascadian Coffee Ale (seasonal) - using decaf it's thick, dark and won't keep you awake at night

  • Dogfish Head Brewery:
    Tweason'ale - seasonal brew made from sorghum, with vibrant strawberry notes and a malty buckwheat honey

  • Epic Brewing Company:
    Glutenator - light bodied beer with golden colour and aromas of hops and sweet potatoes
    Note: they also brew gluten containing beers.

  • Greenview Brewing:
    Alt Brew Farmhouse Ale - slightly bitter beer with notes of crisp apple
    Solstice Saison beer ingredient kit - brew it yourself beer kit, slightly bitter beer with notes of crisp apple

  • Harvester Brewing:
    Dark Ale - Espresso-like roast chestnuts gives a roasty flavour and aroma with notes of chocolate and dark fruits
    IPA No.1 - Piney, citrusy, northwest IPA bitterness, flavour and aroma from hops, roasted chestnuts and certified gluten free oats
    Pale Ale - Chestnuts, sorghum, certified gf oats, sugar and hops give a flavourful ale
    Plus seasonal gluten free ales are available.

  • Ipswich Ale Brewery:
    Celia Saison - Brewed from sorghum with Curacao orange peels and Celeia hops to produce a spicy flavour
    Note: they also brew gluten containing beers.

  • Lakefront Brewery:
    New Grist - brewed from sorghum

  • New Planet:
    Amber Ale - lightly toasted caramel notes and subtle citrus hints
    Belgian Ale - bright, crisp and refreshing with subtle spice and honey notes
    Blonde Ale - bright notes of honey and a subtle floral aroma
    Brown Ale - coffee and chocolate flavours, with subtle cinnamon and vanilla notes
    Pale Ale - bold hop character and rich caramel and grapefruit notes with a clean yet distinctly hoppy finish
    Raspberry Ale - balance of subtle fruit flavor and aroma, with a zesty, citrusy finish, brewed with natural raspberry puree and orange peel

  • Omission Beer (initially brewed from gluten containing ingredients):
    Omission IPA - pine, citrus and grapefruit aromas in the spirit of the original IPA shipped to India in the late 1800's
    Omission Lager - brewed in the traditional lager style
    Omission Pale Ale - floral aroma and caramel malt body
    Handcrafted beers from barley, hops, water and yeast, brewed using a proprietary process to remove gluten.
    Note: 11/19/2013 - Has been given the Celiac Sprue Association's Recognition Seal of Approval as being risk free for celiacs, after testing well below the new FDA standard for gluten presence of 20 ppm.

  • Ramapo Valley Brewery:
    Honey Beer - made from honey, molasses & hops, this beer is also Kosher certified for Passover

  • Sprecher Brewery:
    Mbege - brewed with sorghum, millet and real bananas
    Shakparo - West African Shakparo-style beer brewed with sorghum and millet

  • Steadfast Beer Co.:
    Sorghum Pale Ale - golden amber colour with floral and citrus aromas, notes of burnt sugar, bread, caramel and molasses

  • Two Brothers Brewing Co.:
    Prairie Path Golden Ale - brewed with malted barley
    Certified as containing less than 5ppm gluten, which is achieved by using an enzyme process

Canada:

  • Glutenberg (Brasseurs Sans Gluten):
    Blonde - dry and citrusy, an easy to drink beer
    American Pale Ale - citrus and caramel notes, coupled with a mild bitter finish
    Red - roasted chestnuts endow this beer with toasted nuts and caramel hints, to give it a unique aromatic personality
    Belgian Double - 6.5% alcohol level and warm and spicy notes

  • Les bières de la Nouvelle-France:
    La Messagère - pale ale with a bouquet of honey, and a touch of citrus fruits
    La Messagère Millet - malted millet lager
    La Messagère Red - rice and buckwheat beer with a delicate, woodsy taste

  • NEW
    Snowman Brewing Co.:
    No Fool For Trying Honey Lavender IPA - honey lavender India pale ale; notes of bread, honey, lemon, violin and guitar, floral and citrus on the nose
    Pail Ale - pale ale; notes of floral, wood, citrus, and grapefruit
    Top Hat Ale - English style amber ale; notes of fruit, caramel, biscuits, and earth
    Who's That Brown Ale - brown ale; notes of caramel, cocoa, nut, and toffee

UK:

  • Allendale Brew Company Ltd:
    Gluten Free Pale Ale - featuring aromatic American and Australian hops for a bold fruity flavour

  • Glebe Farm:
    Night Mission - traditional British bitter, medium brown in colour with a good hoppiness and flavour

  • Green's:
    Amber - bottle re-fermented amber ale
    Blond - bottle re-fermented Belgian classic style
    Dark ale - bottle re-fermented dark ale
    Discovery - medium bodied amber ale
    Export lager lite - light refreshing lager
    Golden Ale - fermented ale
    India Pale Ale - bottle re-fermented IPA
    Lager dry hopped - bottle re-fermented pale lager
    Premium Pils - classic Belgian pilsner

  • Hambleton Ales:
    GFA - tawny ale
    GFL - pale lager style beer

  • Hop Back Brewery:
    Crop Circle - clean, flaxen-coloured beer

  • St Peter's Brewery:
    G-Free - pilsner lager style
    Dark G-Free - full bodied beer

  • Wold Top Brewery:
    Against The Grain - premium, full flavoured bitter
    Scarborough Fair IPA - strong, triple hopped India Pale Ale

Australia:

  • O'Brien Brewing :
    Black lager - brewed in the German Schwarzbier tradition, with roast coffee aroma, rich chocolate flavour, floral and spicy notes
    Brown ale - European dark ale inspired with a deep copper hue and a balance of caramel and spicy roasted flavours
    Light lager - World’s first naturally brewed low alcohol gluten free beer
    Pale ale - light golden ale with citrus and tropical fruit flavours, Australia’s first commercially produced gluten free beer
    Premium lager - full-bodied, naturally craft-brewed, gluten free lager with distinct floral aroma
    Belgian ale - made with pale and lightly roasted sorghum malts, millet malts and Belgian candi sugar, giving it earthy and fruity characters

Other:

  • Brunehaut Brewery:
    Brunehaut Amber - Delicate amber with cognac accents
    Brunehaut Blond - Scents of acacia and yeast, a light golden aperitif
    Brunehaut Triple - Coppery appearance, discreet, elegant aroma
    Note: they also brew gluten containing beers.

  • Estrella Damm:
    Estrella Damm Daura - made with barley malt with gluten levels less than 3ppm, winner of the World's Best Gluten-free Lager Award at the World Beer Awards (2011)

  • Carlsberg :
    Saxon - premium lager made with barley malt and hops, brewed with a process which removes the gluten normally present in beers