Gluten free beers are increasingly being offered by brewers to cater to the needs of people who have to have a gluten-free diet, due to coeliac disease and gluten allergy, or choose to have a gluten-free diet.
Beer is traditionally brewed from cereal grains that contain gluten, like barley. The decision to cut gluten from a product that is usually very dependent on gluten was obviously a risk. How can you make a good-tasting beer without gluten when beer is based on grains that contain gluten?
Brewers have managed to do precisely that in a variety of styles and the results are astonishing.
There are two ways to manufacture gluten free beer. The one way is to use a malt from naturally gluten free cereals or pseudo-cereals: sorghum, millet, buckwheat, rice, quinoa or maize.
The resulting beers will differ from regular beers in aroma and flavor. The other way is to produce a beer using a gluten containing malt, such as wheat, barley or rye, and then introduce an enzyme at the start of the process to break down the gluten protein and thereby reduce the gluten content.
Some breweries produce only gluten-free beer, others make reduced-gluten beers.
Editors at The Spruce Eats researched and tested a range of gluten-free beers and came up with some recommendations. More details can be found on the review process here. Feedback from beer drinkers was sought by Liquor.com
Best Overall Gluten Free Beer
Tasting Notes: Grainy, balanced, bready
Glutenberg is a Quebec microbrewery. Its beers are made with naturally gluten-free grains; such as amaranth, buckwheat, corn, millet, and quihttps://www.thespruceeats.com/what-is-quinoa-3376836noa.
Glutenberg Blonde Ale was the brewery's first release and it remains a very popular and well-regarded gluten free beer.
At Beer Advocate it’s described as having floral hops, white pepper and lemon zest aromas, while having flavors of white flowers, citrus and spicy flavours.
A hint of bitterness balances out the sweetness of the millet and the corn.
A strong contender for the title of Best Overall is Ghostfish Grapefruit IPA, which won bronze at the Great American Beer Festival and gold at the U.S. Open Beer Championship.
At 5.5% ABV it’s a little stronger. It tastes of grapefruit rind, hops and bitter.
Best Wheat Beer
Tasting Notes: Juniper, citrus
Ghostfish Brewing Company is a Seattle based brewery that offers gluten-free beers to a number of states in the U.S. and a few Canadian provinces. The primary grain is malted millet, some buckwheat, brown rice, or sorghum.
The hazy golden Shrouded Summit Belgian White Ale is brewed with millet, buckwheat, and rice and has hints of sweet orange and coriander spice. It can rival any Belgian witbier and is considered to be the best wheat-based beer.
Untappd describes the ale in terms of juniper and citrus and praises it as a witbier that somehow keeps the style without wheat or barley.
Best U. S. Craft Gluten-Free Beer
Tasting Notes: Caramel, toasted malt
Holidaily Brewing Co. produces 100% gluten-free beer. The brewery has received awards for the best U.S. Craft Beer. Its gluten-free beer is rapidly gaining in distribution.
The brewery's flagship is Favorite Blonde Ale. Boombastic Hazy IPA won gold at the 2019 Great American Beer Festival. There are also brown and red ales, a dunkelweiss, and stouts, including a seasonal Santa's Nightcap, which is a bourbon-barrelled imperial stout.
They use buckwheat and millet.
Tasting Notes: Grainy, smooth, balanced
Two Brothers Artisan Brewing is a Chicago brewery, founded by two brothers and family-owned. It has an independent spirit. If you’re looking to cut gluten then Prairie Path is a good choice. This golden ale falls into the ‘gluten-removed’ category.
It's bottled at 5.1 percent ABV and has a moderate 25 IBUs. Mellow, creamy, and refreshing with fruity notes, this is a good tasting ale. Works exceedingly well with a meal.
Untappd says Prairie Path Ale is full flavored, mildly bitter, clean and refreshing. Belgian malts and Saaz and Goldings hops work well.
Tasting Notes: Fruity, hoppy
Omission Brewing Co. produces reduced-gluten barley beers. Omission discloses the gluten content of every batch.
The tests reveal that the gluten content is consistently at less than 10 ppm. Omission offers four styles, including an IPA and pale ale. Their offerings fit right in with regular beers of that variety.
Ultimate Light Golden Ale, a light beer, is really good. The lager is unique in gluten-free beers. The beer won awards. Brewed with Millennium and Cascade hops.
Untappd Brewed in the traditional lager style with an aromatic hop profile.
If it’s a dark ale you’re after, then Ground Breaker Dark Ale is a good choice. At 5.5% ABV and with tasting notes of chocolate, roasted coffee and dark fruits, coming from roasted chestnuts and lentils.
Buy on Drizly
Tasting Notes: Hoppy, tropical, dry, nectarine
Stone Brewing has a portfolio of India pale ales. In 2015 it introduced Delicious IPA, a reduced-gluten beer that’s citrus based and top-heavy. It’s hoppy and rather strong and is made from a combination of Nugget, Calypso, Lemondrop, and El Dorado hops.
There’s a citrus flavor and a bitter-dry finish. An enzyme leaves only traces of gluten behind. The brand employs methods to reduce gluten contamination in any of its equipment.
Untappd (https://untappd.com/b/ghostfish-brewing-company-shrouded-summit-belgian-white-ale/967407): a very citrusy bitter beer with Lemondrop and El Dorado hops giving it a lemon candy-like flavor balanced by hop spice.
Best Macro Brew
Tasting Notes: Fruity, toasty. grainy
Macro brews usually use barley, but Anheuser-Busch's Redbridge uses sorghum. It's stocked in many U.S. supermarkets.
Sorghum beers have a sour taste. The company brews it like a lager. If you enjoy sour beers, it's a good option.
Beer Advocate rich, full-bodied with a fruity hop aroma, a sweet toasted grain flavor and a well-balanced finish.
Tasting Notes: Bread, green apple, hops
Lakefront is one of the few breweries that offer a gluten-free beer alongside gluten-full beers. New Grist is the first gluten-free beer granted label approval by the U.S. Government. This pilsner is brewed with rice and sorghum.
Untappd Brewed from sorghum, rice, hops, water and gluten-free yeast.
Gluten Free Or Gluten Reduced
This should be your first consideration before buying. If you have a strong allergic reaction to gluten go for dedicated gluten free beers made where there’s no chance of gluten contamination from brewery equipment.
Do you want your favorite kind of beer or a beer to serve with a meal? The type of gluten free beer you want will affect which of the options you pick.
Alcohol Content (ABV)
Will you be downing a few? If so, you may prefer a lighter ABV.
Look for the ‘best by’ or ‘bottled on’ date on the bottom or side of the can or label. Look for beers with dates of at least 6 months out. Buy from purveyors that sell a lot of beer regularly. Refrigerated beer is generally fresh.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Can You Tell If A Beer Is Gluten-Free?
Gluten-free beers are made with grains such as sorghum, millet, quinoa, and/or buckwheat. They contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten.
What Is Gluten-Reduced Beer?
Gluten-reduced beers begin by having gluten containing grains like malted barley, wheat, and/or rye. They add an enzyme during the fermentation process that neutralizes the gluten in the beer.
What Is Dedicated Gluten-Free Beer?
A gluten-free beer that's produced in a brewery with absolutely no gluten-containing grains whatsoever, so no cross-contamination. Gluten-free beers produced at other breweries may contain some cross-contamination of gluten that may cause reactions.
If you like beer but want to avoid or reduce gluten, there are lots of excellent options out there.
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