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Is beer gluten-free?

Can you drink beer on a gluten-free diet?

If you're following a gluten-free diet, you may be curious if beer is a safe beverage option. Despite being the third most consumed drink after tea and water, the gluten content of various beer types can vary. Discover the gluten levels in different beer types in this article.

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Is beer gluten-free?
Last updated on December 13, 2023, and last reviewed by an expert on August 17, 2023.

Beer has been a beloved alcoholic beverage cherished globally for millennia.

Is beer gluten-free?

Indeed, it ranks as the third most favored drink, trailing only water and tea.

At its core, beer is crafted from water, hops, yeast, and barley, a grain known for its gluten content.

This article delves into the gluten levels in beer, exploring various primary types and assessing their safety for those with celiac disease.

In this article

Discovering the process of brewing beer

Brewing beer is a fascinating process that centers on fermentation.

The intricate process involves fermenting sugar derived from grains with the help of yeast, a fungus. The yeast breaks down the sugar to produce alcohol, resulting in the beloved beverage we all enjoy.

Beer brewing usually involves four main ingredients:

Breweries may also use other grains, sugar, flavorings, and additives to give their beer unique colors, tastes, and aromas. Some of these may also contain gluten.

Types of beer and gluten content

Individuals with celiac disease must completely exclude gluten from their diets. In these people, it can damage the intestines and cause stomach pain, diarrhea, unexplained weight loss, and poor absorption of nutrients.

That’s why it’s critical for anyone with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity to be aware of the gluten content of their foods and beverages, including beer.

The amount of gluten in beer is measured in parts per million (ppm).

In most countries, food and beverages must contain less than 20 ppm of gluten to be considered gluten-free.

Most conventionally brewed beer contains far more than 20 ppm of gluten, though the exact amount varies depending on the brewing process and ingredients used.

Here is the average gluten content of common types of beers:

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As you can see, the most common types of beer contain levels of gluten that are unsafe for people with celiac disease.

Summary: Most beer is made using grains and other gluten additives, making it unsafe for individuals with celiac disease.

Gluten-free beer varieties

In most countries — including the United States, Canada, and many European countries — beer must have fewer than 20 ppm of gluten to be labeled gluten-free.

The Food and Drug Administration suggests most individuals with celiac disease can consume this level of gluten without adverse effects.

Some breweries make the beverage from naturally gluten-free grains, such as rice, corn, sorghum, and millet to meet this standard.

Additionally, some breweries are dedicated gluten-free facilities to help avoid cross-contamination with gluten during the brewing process.

Other breweries have developed techniques to reduce gluten in traditional, barley-based beer, producing gluten-removed beer.

However, gluten-removed beer is not guaranteed to be safe for individuals with celiac disease. Though it has been processed to help reduce the gluten content, there is no reliable test to verify the amount of gluten they contain.

For individuals with celiac disease, it’s best to stick with gluten-free varieties.

Suggested read: Beer belly: Does beer causes belly fat?

Summary: Beer labeled gluten-free is likely safe for individuals with celiac disease. These varieties use gluten-free grains in facilities that prevent cross-contamination with gluten.

How to find gluten-free beer

If you’re looking for gluten-free beer, you’re in luck! It’s becoming increasingly popular.

However, to make sure you’re getting the right product, ask your local beer vendor to show you their selection, and be sure to read the packaging carefully before making your purchase.

Look for phrases or symbols indicating the product is gluten-free. Keep in mind that labeling standards vary by country.

If it’s not clear whether your beer of choice contains gluten, it may be beneficial to contact the manufacturer directly or choose a different variety with straightforward labeling.

Alternatively, consider choosing wine or distilled liquors, as these are typically gluten-free. However, keep in mind that products vary. Regardless of your beverage, it’s best to examine the label carefully.

Summary: To ensure you’re buying gluten-free beer, carefully read the packaging for regulated phrases or symbols indicating the product is gluten-free. Many brands will say this explicitly on the label.

Summary

Most beer contains gluten, as it’s traditionally brewed using gluten-containing grains — usually barley, wheat, or rye.

However, there are plenty of gluten-free options. Several varieties use gluten-free grains, and many breweries are dedicated to gluten-free facilities.

Since most countries abide by strict labeling standards, varieties with a regulated gluten-free label are likely safe for individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

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