Gluten Free Beer - Warning!

Be very wary when you see Gluten Free Beer. I have just been warned by someone who ended up with a migraine followed by a raging headache after having a small glass of Green's Gluten Free Beer.

I have investigated further and found the product online and it has the following ingredient in it: de-glutenised barley malt.

Apparently, unlike Australia they are allowed in this country to call beer gluten free when it contains up to 20ppm gluten.

I came across this statement on yet another site relating to beers - perhaps others who use this forum may be able to elaborate on this subject .....

"The Barley based beers are technically Gluten Free, but they have hordeins, which function similar to gluten based gliadins, causing a response in Gluten sensitive or Celiacs." quoted from site.

Sorry that this is a little disjointed but here is further information about just how high some gluten free alcoholic products may be:

38 Replies

  • Hi Lynxcat, an interesting blog and just a couple of points here, in Australia they have 5ppm as gluten free and it has to be wheat, oats, barley and rye free. (They also have to label wheat deriv's as such in Australia.)

    And barley gluten is hordein and the ELISA gluten test is used to determine the level of barley gluten in the product here's a link with an extract which explains it:

    Why the confusion over barley malt extract?

    It is very tricky to test for barley contamination in food. One of the assays (sandwich omega-gliadin ELISA) severely underestimates gluten contamination from barley; the other (sandwich R5 ELISA) overestimates gluten contamination from barley by a factor of 2. And when it comes to testing for gluten in a hydrolyzed product (a product that has been partially broken down), such as barley malt extract, the test that usually overestimates barley contamination may now underestimate it. It really is a confusing situation! Fortunately, there is an assay available for testing hydrolyzed ingredients. It is called the competitive R5 ELISA.

  • This is very interesting Jerry. I must admit - that I do tend to scour labels now and avoid ones that look as though they contain anything at all suspicious even if they are labellled 'gluten free.' I noticed that Stones Alcoholic Ginger Beer that was listed GF contained something in it that made me quickly place the bottle back onto the shelf, whereas Crabbies had nothing untoward in their ingredients.

    It is annoying when firms are using the Gluten Free words on their labelling when their products are clearly not, I think!

  • I would seriously question the statement that "The Barley based beers are technically Gluten Free" etc.

    Avoiding gluten means more than just avoiding wheat. Wheat is the most common source of gluten, but remember to watch out for oats, barley and rye.

    Barley beer would surely have to be avoided even if they state that Gluten is 20ppm. Barley in any shape or form would have to be a big no no.

    Perhaps I have all this wrong though but I don't think so.

  • No, you are perfectly right ... everything is in such tiny print - those of us who require reading glasses must remember to always take them with us whilst out shopping! Lol!

  • I thought I would be safe drinking cider but found this not to be the case with most of them although I would recommend 'Thatchers Gold' as I don't get any bloating problem after a couple of pints.

  • Cider causes such a violently bad reaction to me that I positively run from it!

  • I was very interested to read this Lynxcat! So far, I do not seem to get reactions from cider (tend to stick to Kopparberg, in particular the elderflower and lime) although I don't drink them that often. As I noted in my post below I found Green's gluten free Premium Pils gave me an instant reaction.

  • DeleteThat was the first (only) gf beer I have tried, didn't notice they had used de-glutanised barley until I'd had a migrane for 3 days and looked at the bottle :( I am also sporting a lovely rash round my neck now.

  • I use gluten free beer all the time for braising meat, making stews and in chili. It also makes a nice beverage when chilled (we drink our beer cold in Canada). I understand it's available in the UK as well. We actually have access to several different gluten free beers, but this is my favourite.

  • I'm not sure whether these are available to us Liana - I've certainly not seen them in my area.

    At the moment I find myself drinking Crabbies Alcoholic Ginger Beer when I fancy a beer.

  • Here is a link that might be helpful:

    La Messegere is a rice and millet beer ... absolutely gluten free.

  • I definitely had a reaction when drinking Green's Premium Pils. I have Dermatitis Herpetiformis, have been gluten free since January and tend to react almost immediately when I ingest gluten. The itch started after just a couple of sips - that's despite the fact that I'm on Dapsone! So I quickly passed the beer over to my husband to finish. I was disappointed because I do miss enjoying a cold lager from time to time. A few days later I tried Green's Golden Ale (also marked as gluten free) and I didn't get any itching, so I drank that one. But of course I'm not sure whether it's really 'safe' so I'm not keen to have more.

  • Great - more bad news - I'm going to be a monk !

  • Lol! Don't be defeatist - between us all we will surely find what's out there!

  • I read this with interest as I'm a big fan of the Hambleton GF ale and lager, though I do despair that I'm only able to drink them at home. We went for a drink last week to my favourite free house and I found myself unexpectedly close to tears, surrounded by all that lovely beer and none of it for me.

    Since being gf, I find I don't miss bread or pastry or any of the foods I expected to miss, but I really DO miss sitting down with a beer at a pub. I'd love to try the St Peter's gf beer at their pub in Clerkenwell but I'm in west London so it's hardly local! I'm currently formulating a strategy to convince some of the local landlords to get some in just for me. What do you think are my chances? :-)

    Btw, I don't really "react" as such (I couldn't tell you if I've been "glutened") but I do find cider hard to tolerate and I wonder if it's all the sugar - ? Since going off gluten I don't really feel well when I eat sweet foods, and I'm sensitive in general to sweetness now; some foods just taste too aggressively sweet to enjoy and some (gf) sweet foods just make me feel ill.

    The Crabbies sounds nice, but I wonder if it would be too sweet for me. I might pick up a bottle today to try.

  • Just a little note especially for you .. Crabbies do two varieties of GF beer - the Black label: .. has much of the sugar brewed out and so is inclined to be bitter .. hope that's a help! :)

    I have tried it - I checked the ingredients before buying, needless to say so unless they've altered the ingredients in the last six weeks it should still be gluten free. Difficult to read the label online though! Lol! ... but I can assure you that the black label isn't at all sweet and is more like an ale than a ginger beer.

  • I'm with you when it comes to reacting to sugar. I took an offered sugar covered boiled sweet the other day and boy did I regret it! :-(

  • It makes me wonder if sugar has always had an effect on me and I didn't realise (I've eaten a lot of sugary stuff in my day) or if I've developed a sensitivity to it.

  • just don't drink it, drink cider

  • Cider is the worst villain of the piece - it makes me violently ill!

  • no gluten in the cider i drink, just don't drink to much

  • Hi saltyswamp, It wasn't listed in the cider I drank either - but it most certainly was present as after just one small half-a-glass, I cannot describe how ill it made me feel. Previously, I have always been able to drink it when I've felt like it but now it's most definitely in my black list!

  • I started brewing my own gluten free lager a couple of months ago. It is called 'Gone with the Wheat', and is made from sorghum syrup, not barley malt. I asked about the yeast that comes with the kit ( syrup + flavouring+yeast) and was assured that it was all gluten free. I have drunk 40 pints of the 'American style' Gone with the Wheat lager ,and now have 40 pints of the 'Czech' lager barrelled up and maturing. It is a bit of an aquired taste.

    There is a third flavour - Strawberry Lager - but I don't fancy that somehow.

    The Czech flavoured lager smells a bit like the floor where the organic chemistry labs used to be at college. Formaldehyde?

    The flavouring was developed by a home brew shop owner in Bedford ( The Happy Brewer) and another home brew supply company in Birmingham. The idea of adding flavouring put me off a little initially, but desperate times call for desperate measures! In any case, even crisps have flavouring added.

    They drink sorghum beer in places like Sierra Leone and Ghana because the African climate is too hot for barley but sorghum grows okay. I know Heineken have interests in growing sorghum in Africa and actually emailed them to say there could be a market for a good gluten free lager here in the UK. No reply.

    There is a small real ale brewery called St Peters, in Suffolk I think, where they make and sell sorghum beer. It tastes okay but costs too much. I have also tried Estrella Damm gluten free lager, but at £7.50 for four 330ml bottles it is too expensive. I bought mine when Sainsbury's were selling their stock off at half price. They haven't stocked it since.

    It is made in Barcelona. Dont confuse it with ordinary Estrella lager - the bottles look very similar. There is a draught Estrella - also non gluten free.

  • I've had the Estrella Daura Damm lager, which was very nice. They still sell it in Waitrose, but it does cost a fortune.

    I had it in Spain too, where it didn't seem particularly expensive in the supermarket, so might be worth looking out for on holiday!

  • Would you not be better off with your own recipe - for instance you could add black treacle and make a lovely strong dark ale - or is it not possible to purchase a gf yeast on its own?

  • 'Strong dark Ale'. Pure poetry! I would love to try experimenting, but the kits are £25 a pop. I guess most of the cost is the sorghum syrup. If I won the lottery I would experiment and try to create some good tasting brews, then make them in a microbrewery.

    The yeast used for brewing is important, as is the water. There are many different strains of brewing yeast and breweries keep the same culture going for years so their brews always taste the same, apparently. The yeast with the kits is claimed to be a high quality low temperature lager yeast that sits on the bottom of the brewing vessel.

    I wish it were simply a case of adding treacle to make dark ale, but I've read of attempts that use liquourise ( can't spell) , tea bags and all kinds of odd things to try to get that dark ale flavour.

    My local expert, Steve at the Happy Brewer, reckons the lagers they've invented (Gone with the Wheat) are the outcome of various experiments. He said they can't make a good beer with sorghum. I assume he meant 'ale' as well.I would be happy to let the experts experiment with different ingredients and come up with a recipe for bitter, mild, ale or stout in a kit that I could brew at home. £25 for 40 pints of 4.2% ABV lager isn't bad.

  • Weston's Ciders are labelled GF. Sadly I still can't have it because of an intolerance to apples, alcohol and sugar.

    Have one for me :-)

  • I think the problem is sassyl - so many drinks are being labelled 'gluten free' when they obviously are not as they are causing problems linked to the ingestion of gluten.

    We need beers, wines and spirite with 0% gluten - made from products which are not derived from gluten related grains.

  • Amen Lynxcat! Couldn't agree more! :)

  • Westons is absolutely fine for coeliacs. Unfortunately I've developed further digestive and metabolic problems which is why I can't have it. Before this I drank Westons for years.

  • Estrella Damm is great and has been reduced to less than 3ppm. I can't tolerate 20pmm and Estrella Damm is fine.

  • Not heard of this one - where is it available from Dave?

  • Asda, Waitrose in the main, sometimes Morrison. I can tolerate it - it certainly is classed as 3ppm.

  • Yes Estrella Damn is the only one I can drink too

  • I just tried a Wold Top Against the Grain ale (a Yorkshire brewery)- labelled both gluten free and naturally wheat free. I tend to react instantly and I was waiting, and expecting, the telltale itch followed by the usual blisters, but I got neither! The ingredients listed are:water, lager malt, maize, hops and yeast. Gluten content certified at less than 20ppm. So it will obviously not suit a lot of people. It is obviously not strictly speaking 'gluten free', rather low gluten. I know a lot of people are also sensitive to maize and yeast so... but there you go. I thought I couldn't enjoy gf beer but this one seems possibly ok. Mind, it was given to me by a friend and as far as I know is not commercially easily available in the part of Scotland I live in... So who knows how long it will be before I try it again? I would like to try it again sometime just to see if it was a fluke and if it actually doesn't agree with me... But I just thought I'd throw this into the mix.

  • Personally, I would never risk malt. I do not wish to spoil an obvously enjoyed pint of beer but I think with gluten - it's not always the problems that you experience and see it is long time underlying problems when we keep ingesting it. It is the fact that it can lead on to other various and dibilitating disorders that I want to give myself a chance of avoiding. I always think that this is a major problem for anyone with our condition - people who study it only ever really think about problems with the gut and the tell-tale rashes .... they never look at all of the other problems that are related to gluten ingestion.

    I have been advised that Sourgum beer is supposed to be quite nice - the only one that I have seen so far for sale sadly had barley added to it ........... but for anyone brave enough - here is a traditional gluten free sourgum recipe link:

    A second recipe and notes by someone who has made it:

    This is a very simple traditional African version:

    Which one of us, do you think - will be brave enough to try brewing some ourselves?

    If someone does, could they kindly let us all know how they get on and which recipe they used?

    Thank you. x

  • Has anyone tried ambar or Saxon ?

  • I have fibromyalgia that seems to worsen with gluten consumption. I swear by crabbies!!!

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