- Hold the Gluten
- Gluten-Free Versus Free of Gluten
- No Gluten Allowed
- Spirited Away
- Aurochs Hazy IPA
- Ghostfish Grapefruit IPA
- Glutenberg Blonde Ale
- Glutenberg Gose
- Redbridge Gluten-Free Lager
- Ground Breaker Brewing Dark Ale
- Holidaily Favorite Buckwit Belgian Witobier
- Duck Foot Brewing Drink This Or the Bees Die
- In-Cider Information
Hold the Gluten
If you’re a gluten-free beer drinker, you likely already know the headache of finding beer that is both delicious and gluten-free. That’s because the gluten-free beer market, like the general beer market, is courting many different types of beer fans. A gluten-free beer that’s perfect for someone avoiding gluten for gut health reasons may not be ideal for someone who has celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder in which gluten damages the small intestine. Read on for a breakdown of what might (and might not) constitute a gluten-free beer, as well as our favorite picks.
Gluten-Free Versus Free of Gluten
Just because something doesn’t have a gluten-containing ingredient does not automatically mean that it’s free of gluten. Oats, for instance, don’t contain gluten, but they’re generally processed with gluten-containing ingredients. This may or may not be a problem, depending on the individual.
A beer made at a brewery that uses oats might be perfect for Danielle, who avoids gluten because she feels better when she does so, but could make Janelle, someone with celiac disease, quite sick. Even drinks like ginger beer or root beer, which don’t technically have gluten added, could trigger a celiac reaction if they were processed in a facility that also processes ingredients that contain gluten.
No Gluten Allowed
In the gluten-free beer realm, there are a few different categories. A dedicated gluten-free facility is arguably the top tier from a safe-for-celiacs perspective. Ideally, the malt would come from a dedicated gluten-free malting company, like Grouse Malt House. Some breweries don’t allow gluten-containing ingredients to enter their facilities, but they occasionally use ingredients that may have been cross contaminated. Ideally, if a brewery chose to use an ingredient like oats in a few of its beers, it would test the oats first to ensure that they had not been contaminated with gluten.
There are also gluten-reduced beers, which use an enzymatic process to remove gluten from beers that were originally brewed using malt or grain mash, both of which contain gluten. These beers are tested and certified as having zero gluten.
Gluten-reduced beers can be a little controversial within the gluten-free beer scene, however. While some say they have superior flavor, some folks with celiac disease still have a reaction to them. It’s hard to say exactly why this is, but some theorize that these tests are designed for gliadin (the gluten protein in wheat), not hordein (the gluten protein in barley), and some think that the tests aren’t as accurate with fermented products. The bottom line is that, while gluten-reduced beers may be a great option for some, they aren’t a perfect solution for every gluten-free beer drinker.
Whatever your level of sensitivity, we rounded up the best gluten-free beers based on reviews from websites such as Untappd. We gave preference to those that are truly gluten-free, but there is one gluten-reduced option on the list as well — brewed by someone with celiac disease, incidentally — for those who find that gluten-reduced options work for them.
Aurochs Hazy IPA
$14/4-pack from Total Wine & More
Aurochs, based in Emsworth, Pennsylvania, has a dedicated gluten-free facility and brews with different roasts of various gluten-free grains and gluten-free malt. It sends out all of its ingredients for independent testing and avoids ingredients that don’t test below 5 ppm, currently the lowest amount of gluten that’s testable. The brewery’s Hazy IPA is tropical and hop-driven, with notes of papaya, peach, and orange. In 2020, it won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in the gluten-free category.
Ghostfish Grapefruit IPA
$9/4-pack at Total Wine & More
Ghostfish is another brewery that doesn’t allow gluten-containing ingredients into its facility, which is based in Seattle, Washington. Though it does selectively use oats, any ingredient that is not produced in a dedicated gluten-free facility is tested and certified gluten-free before it is used.
American IPAs are notoriously citrusy, but this Grapefruit IPA takes it to a whole new level. Not only is it brewed with grapefruit purée, but the special blend of hops (Cascade, Horizon, Altus) brings out a real grapefruit pith note. It won a bronze medal in the gluten-free IPA category at the 2021 U.S. Open Beer Championship.
Glutenberg Blonde Ale
$12/4-pack from Total Wine & More
Montreal-based Glutenberg is one of the best-known gluten-free breweries, thanks to its wide distribution, gluten-free brewing facility, and rigorous testing of all ingredients. Made from millet, this blonde ale is a pale, light-bodied sipper with notes of white pepper and fennel, with a floral finish. It’s the perfect option for those who prefer a lighter beer.
$14/4-pack from Total Wine & More
It’s not always easy to find sour gluten-free beers, so we’re including Glutenberg twice on this list, thanks to this bright and cheerful gose. True to style, it has notes of lemon and lime, with a hint of salty sea air. A great summer option.
Redbridge Gluten-Free Lager
$9/6-pack from Total Wine & More
Not everyone is looking for a craft beer, and that’s okay. No matter where you land on the craft beer spectrum, this Redbridge Gluten-Free Lager, brewed from sorghum, is one of the most popular gluten-free beers for its flavor and accessibility. When developing this beer, Anheuser-Busch consulted the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) to get a better understanding of the needs of celiac beer-drinkers. This is another light option, with a fruity and toasty character.
Ground Breaker Brewing Dark Ale
$17/4-pack from Total Wine & More
Based in Portland, Oregon, Ground Breaker Brewing was the first dedicated, 100% gluten-free brewery in the United States. With notes of chocolate, caramel, and dark fruit, this dark ale is brewed with malted rice, flaked quinoa, Belgian-style Candi Syrup, and English ale yeast. It won a bronze medal once in the gluten-free category at the Great American Beer Festival and a gold medal three times.
Holidaily Favorite Buckwit Belgian Witobier
$14/4-pack from Drizly
Holidaily, based in Golden, Colorado, brews a range of gluten-free options from its dedicated gluten-free facility. For those who are gluten-free and miss witbiers, the Holidaily Favorite Buckwit Belgian Witobier could be the perfect replacement, meant to evoke the classic wit-style beer with its notes of coriander and orange peel, but brewed with gluten-free grains.
Duck Foot Brewing Drink This Or the Bees Die
$11/4-pack from Drizly
This is the one gluten-reduced beer on the list, brewed by someone with celiac disease. If you’re a little unsure whether gluten-reduced will work for you, you’re welcome to read the company’s rationale
. As Duck Foot states on its website, its brewer Matt DelVecchio has not had an issue with the beer, nor has it received any reports at its San Diego, California-based brewery of patrons having issues with the beer. If you’re comfortable trying it, this memorably-named pale ale is brewed using mosaic hops and local honey. It has notes of honey (perhaps unsurprisingly) and citrus pith. A portion of the proceeds are donated to bee charities that work to prevent colony collapse.
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