This is one of the hardest questions to answer with the general information available on the internet and it is largely due to the misunderstanding of Gluten and the conditions that are effected by it such as Celiac Disease, celiac sprue, gluten intolerance, gluten sensitive and dermatitis herpetiformis. A person suffering from the celiac disease will be intolerant to the gluten found in rye, barley, spelt, wheat and a number of lesser-known grains but will not be effected by the gluten found in sorghum, corn or rice. On the other hand, a person who is classed as gluten intolerant maybe find with the types of gluten found in most of the above examples and only have a reaction to the gluten found in corn.
The term gluten does not cover a single type of protein but rather a small group that are commonly found in different types of grains. The gluten found in barley is called hordein, the gluten in rye is known as scaling and the gluten in wheat is gliadin to name a few of the different types of gluten. Due to the wide range of gluten types and the even wider range of reactions people suffering from gluten based conditions can face it has become acceptable to some beer manufacturers to market their beer as gluten free when in actual fact it does contain types of gluten that may have negative effects on some people who consume it!
So…..Does Beer Have Gluten In It Or Not?
On top of the blurred definitions, testing for the content of some types of gluten is extremely hard, to date we are unable to find an accurate form of testing for herein, the gluten located in barley. This again opens up another grey area for beer manufacturers who use barley in there fermentation process but are unable to definitively test for the presence of the gluten once the fermentation process has complete making it almost impossible to answer the question does beer contain gluten in it.
Many beer manufactures claim that their fermentation process eliminates all herein from the barley but an Australian company attempting to improve beer haze has released their results that prove herein does remain in the beer after the fermentation process.
With regular beers available on the market, it is down to the consumer to be aware of the dangers and protect them self as best as possible when shopping for alcohol but there is hope!
Does All Beer Have Gluten?
There is a rapidly growing market for beers made from ingredients that do not contain gluten meaning this beer is definitely one hundred percent gluten free! These are perfect for people suffering from gluten based conditions as there is no chance of the beer containing any gluten what so ever, the brewers involved in growing this market share have gone to great lengths to actually put a physical label on their product to confirm it is gluten free.
Believe it or not, this is not actually as easy as it sounds due to the definition of gluten free changing around the world. Within the European Union, the beer may not contain anymore than 20 parts per million of gluten to be marketed as gluten free. In Australia, the standard is that the beer must be tested and if any trace of gluten what so ever is detected then the beer is not aloud to be marketed as gluten free. This is the high standard that these gluten free brewers achieve with every product.
Although these gluten free beers meet the Australian standard of having no trace of gluten within their beer whats ever they are forced to market their product against other beers that have less than 20 parts per million of gluten due to the laws of the European Union. In 2013 the FDA released its label standards for gluten free produce in the USA and decided it would meet the same standard as the European Union rather than that of Australia meaning “Gluten Free” beer bought within the USA is only less than 20 parts per million of gluten so may still be harmful to people sensitive to gluten.
So What Beers Are Safe For Us To Drink!?
There are an ever increasing number of brewers popping up who make their beer from 100% non-gluten ingredients, where is a list of some of the ones with producing currently available on the market.
- Ground Breaker
- Bards Beer
- Element Brewing Company
- CELIA Larger
- Omission Beer
- Steadfast Pale Ale
- Red Bridge
- St. Peters Sorghum Beer
- La Message
- Lakefront Brewers
- New Plant
In addition to the beer produced by there brewers, there are also various one-offs released by some brewers such as Brew Dogs Vagabond Pale Ale. Where as the rest of the Brew Dog range does contain gluten they have gone to extreme steps to ensure that their Vagabond Pale Ale is free from Gluten.
So to bring us back to our original question does beer contain gluten in it? Yes, unfortunately. Due to the laws in most areas, a lot of beers cant contain gluten, even those that are marketed as gluten-free. To be one hundred percent safe stick to the beers created by the brewers suggested in out list and you will be fine.
Gluten Free Beer Festivals
Due to the rapidly increasing trend in drinking real gluten free beers there have been an increase of gluten free beer tents at beer festivals and in 2006, the worlds first exclusive gluten free beer festival was held in England.
This movement looks like it will only increase in size at time goes on as more and more people are jumping on the gluten-free band waggon. Many people now make the active choice to live their lives gluten free even if they do not suffer from a gluten-based condition. They do this out of choice due to various negative effects the consumption of gluten is believed to have on your body even if you are not sensitive to the consumption of gluten in anyway.
Images used on a creative commons licence – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Image One by Pittaya Sroilong – https://www.flickr.com/photos/pittaya/2362680507/
Image Two by Piervincenzo Madeo – https://www.flickr.com/photos/piervix/5325544624/
Image Three by was Blair – https://www.flickr.com/photos/wablair/3243104854/