Gluten-free beer is a phenomenon that shouldn’t really come as a surprise, but it does! In a world where food intolerance and allergies are rife, it only makes sense.
Of course, as with anything in the world, there are a few things that you should know about gluten-free beer, and more importantly, which ones you should be trying. Here’s the low down on this brew and everything you need to know about it.
What Is The History Of Gluten-Free Beer?
Beers are often brewed using wheat and barley, ingredients that gluten intolerant individuals may not be able to stomach. To give these people the opportunity to enjoy a cold one without their bodies reacting badly, gluten-free beers were born.
When they first started hitting the market, gluten-free beers were made using millet, corn, and rice. In more recent times, they have been brewed using quinoa, buckwheat, and sorghum.
For a beer to be labelled as gluten-free it needs to create less than 20 ppm. This means that individuals that are sensitive to gluten may have a reaction. Beers made using grains containing gluten cannot be labelled as gluten-free for obvious reasons. The first gluten-free beer to be approved was New Grist made by Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Fast-forward to the present day, and there are over 50 breweries specializing in gluten-free beers in the US alone.
How Much Gluten-Free Beer Is Consumed Around The World? Is It Rising?
The gluten-free beer market is expected to be worth around $18,7 billion by 2025. Compared to the $5.59 billion in 2017, it’s clear to see that the number of people choosing to drink the beverage has grown in the last few years, with a boom of 40% occurring between 2016 and 2021.
What Are The Most Common Gluten-Free Beers In Different Parts Of The World?
While the market is booming, gluten-free beer remains quite limited in terms of a global footprint. The USA appears to be dominating the market, while the UK and Australia are slowly beginning to make their mark.
Let’s take a look at the beers on offer in each region.
What Beers Are Gluten-Free In Australia?
Australia is slowly making its way into the world of gluten-free beers. While the options are quite limited at this point in time, there are two great tasting options to take note of:
- Pale Ale by Wild Polly Brewing Co. made in Western Australia
- Ginger Beer by Billabong Brewing made in Western Australia
What Beers Are Gluten-Free In The USA?
In comparison to Australia, the USA has a lot more variety in terms of gluten-free beer options. Given that they already have over 50 breweries specializing in this, it makes sense. Here are the top 8 gluten-free beers in the USA that you should try:
- Buck Wild Pale Ale by Alpenglow Beer Company made in California
- Third Contact IPA by Divine Science Brewing made in California
- Celia Saison by Ipswich Ale Brewery made in Massachusetts
- Pyro American Pale Ale by Burning Brothers Brewing made in Minnesota
- Redbridge Lager by Anheuser-Busch made in Missouri
- Felix Pilsner by Bierly Brewing made in Oregon
- Glutenator IPA by Epic Brewing Company made in Utah
- Copperhead Copper Ale by Alt Brew made in Wisconsin
What Beers Are Gluten-Free In The Uk?
Much like Australia, the UK has only just begun making their mark on the gluten-free market. Nonetheless, they have a few great options that are worth trying if you are looking for a beer that’s not got gluten in it:
- English Pale Ale by Autumn Brewing Company made in Seaham
- G-Free (Pilsner) by St. Peter’s Brewery made in Bungay
How Is Gluten-Free Beer Made?
Unlike normal beer, gluten-free beers cannot be made using wheat and barley as they contain gluten. Another difference that comes with gluten-free beer is that it is regulated by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and not the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) like traditional beers.
For a beer to be labelled as gluten-free, it needs to contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten per serving. This does however mean that there may be traces of gluten in gluten-free beer. Depending on your sensitivity, they may not be safe for you to consume. Beers labelled as gluten-reduced or gluten-removed contain more than 20 ppm and are therefore not gluten-free.
Gluten removed beer is still brewed using barley or wheat, but as the name implies, the gluten is almost removed by using enzymes that digest the gluten particles into smaller pieces. The effectiveness of this has not been tested enough to know how valid the claims are, but it will result in a reduced risk of reaction to gluten by consuming the beer.
Truly gluten-free beers are made using quinoa, buckwheat, and sorghum. In the beginning, however, they were made using millet, corn, and rice.
Is Gluten-Free Beer Actually Beer? Does Gluten-Free Beer Contain Alcohol?
Gluten-free beer is not actually a beer and is more often than not non-alcoholic. The fact that it is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and not the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) like traditional beers further affirms this.
While it is possible for gluten-free beers to have a degree of alcohol present, it is not the same amount as traditional beers. It is for this reason that people often tend to group gluten and alcohol-free beers together.
Having said this, the amount of alcohol in the gluten-free beer will differ from brewery to brewery. The bottom line? It can be alcoholic.
What Does Gluten-Free Beer Taste Like? Does It Taste Good Or Awful?
The answer to this is quite subjective, as is anything related to taste, but in our opinion, it’s actually surprisingly good. Naturally, it doesn’t taste the same as normal beer due to the different ingredients used, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad thing.
Quite a few gluten-free beers also come in a range of flavours that include lemon and berries, so if you are looking for a sweeter beer, it is worth looking into one of these.
In a similar fashion to traditional beers, gluten-free beers will tick the boxes of some while being off-putting to others. The only way to know for sure is to give it a try and decide for yourself.
Is Gluten-Free Beer Healthy?
There is no research that really validates if gluten-free beer is healthier than normal beer. What we can confirm is that gluten-free individuals will have a more pleasant experience when drinking a gluten-free beer than they would a normal beer. So, from the perspective of personal health and wellness, it would be the better option.
Unfortunately, beer is not entirely healthy at the best of times, and since gluten-free beer is made following a similar concept, it is unhealthier than it is healthy.
Which Brands Make The Best Gluten-Free Beer?
If you are looking to try gluten-free beer, you need to know which options are worth trying to ensure a pleasant tasting experience. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of the 35 best gluten-free beers currently available.
Given that the market is growing, this is by no means an extensive list and is certainly not the only gluten-free options that you should be trying.
- Duck Foot Brewing Company Drink This or the Bees Die
- Holidaily Brewing Company BuckWit Belgian
- Burning Brothers Brewing Roasted Coffee Strong Ale
- Glutenberg Craft Brewery Blanche
- Stone Brewing Delicious IPA
- Ghostfish Brewing Company Grapefruit IPA
- Odd13 Brewing Codename: Superfan
- New Planet Beer Blonde Ale
- New Belgium Brewing Company Glütiny Pale Ale
- Two Brothers Artisan Brewing Prairie Path Golden Ale
- Ground Breaker Brewing Dark Ale
- Omission Beer Ultimate Light Golden Ale
- Uinta Brewing Company Free Form IPA
- Ipswich Ale Brewery Celia Saison
- Estrella Damn Daura
- Green’s Amber Ale
- Brunehaut Belgian Tripel
- Mikkeller Peter Pale and Mary
- Neumarkter Lammsbräu Pure Lager
- Ghostfish Brewing Shrouded Summit Witbier
- Evasion Brewing Grandpa’s Nap
- Holidaily Brewing Co. Boombastic Hazy IPA
- High Hops Puckerberry
- Duck Foot Coconut Contender IPA
- Short’s Space Rock Pale Ale
- Steadfast Oatmeal Cream Stout
- Ripped Jeans and Wolf Shirts DDH Hazy IPA
- Hollywood Nights Blonde IPA
- Whole lotta Rosie Blonde Ale
- Hell Yeah NEIPA
- Ceal Team Cantaloupe Sour
- Rendezvous Double IPA
- Disturbed Reflection Imperial IPA
- Raj-Agni India Pale Ale
- Sleipnir’s Kick Maple Porter
There’s An Option For Everyone
While some regions have fewer options than others when it comes to gluten-free beers, there are still a lot of options out there. While it may take some research and digging to find a supplier, it will be well worth it when you’re enjoying a cold one with friends.
As already mentioned, it is trial and error. Some may not appeal to your palate and that’s okay, there’s more out there just waiting to be discovered. In the meantime, enjoy the process of finding gluten-free beers and giving them a try. Consider it an adventure and invite friends and family to join in on the journey.
Don’t Let Your Diet Get In The Way Of Fun
We’re living in exciting times where diets are no longer limiting the foods and beverages on offer. Free-from foods are becoming more easily accessible, ensuring that everyone is able to enjoy snacks, drinks and other food items that were previously unavailable.
We hope that this article helps put things into perspective and ignites a new and exciting hobby. After all, you should always enjoy whatever you’re drinking, no matter what your dietary needs or lifestyle choices may be!