What Is Gluten-Free Beer?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 23 November 2019
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Most beers are brewed using some sort of wheat and/or barley which means certain people who suffer from conditions such as Celiac disease cannot drink beer. Gluten, a type of protein found in wheat and other types of grains, causes a reaction in some people that can lead to serious health issues. Gluten-intolerant people who want to drink beer may therefore turn to gluten-free beer which is brewed using sorghum instead of wheat or barley. Gluten-free beer does not taste exactly like other types of beer, and it can be difficult to brew. However, it is an acceptable alternative to other types of beer that can cause problems in some drinkers.

Some beers brewed with wheat or barley contains ONLY a small amount of gluten, and some brewers argue that people who are gluten-intolerant can drink such beers without danger. This is hardly a guarantee, however, so most gluten-intolerance sufferers turn to gluten-free beer that will ensure no gluten is present in the brew. The trade-off is often taste. While most gluten-free beer does not taste bad, it does not taste like most other beers. Many gluten-free drinkers adjust to the taste quickly though drinkers without a gluten intolerance often find the taste to be sub-par when compared to wheat and barley brews.


Two contingents of people likely to drink gluten-free beer are people who suffer from celiac disease and people who suffer from a skin condition called dermatitis herpetiformis. Celiac disease is a condition that affects the lower intestine. When glycoproteins present in gluten enter the lower intestine, intense stomach pain may develop. The intestine may become bloated, causing even more discomfort, and the condition can lead to more serious issues such as intestinal cancer if left untreated. Dermatitis herpetiformis is essentially a skin rash that develops when gluten is ingested. The rash can spread over large swaths of the body, and will be extremely itchy. While not as serious of an issue as Celiac disease, dermatitis herpetiformis can still lead to more serious, potentially life-threatening conditions.

The availability of gluten-free beer in many countries is still quite low, so many gluten-free drinkers turn to home-brewing. The methods used are quite the same as methods used to brew beer with wheat or barley. Home brewing kits maybe a good way to start making gluten-free beer for beginners. One must keep in mind that the finished product may not be as strong as other beers. Brewers often experiment with different hops and ingredients for a gluten-free beer that suits their taste buds best.


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