Not that long ago, a ‘gluten-free’ aisle in a supermarket or section on a restaurant menu was pretty much unheard of. In recent years, following a gluten-free lifestyle has become a popular diet trend, and according to market research company NPD, 26 to 30 percent of adults in the U.S. claim to be reducing their gluten intake or avoiding gluten completely. In addition, in a separate survey, 41 percent of 910 world-class athletes and Olympic medalists said they followed a gluten-free diet most of the time. However, for some people, including those with celiac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis, avoiding gluten is not a choice but a necessity in order to maintain their health.
In response to the growing demand for gluten-free products, there are now a number of gluten-free beers available - but are these healthier than standard beers? Let's take a look.
What is gluten?
Gluten is the general name given to multiple proteins found in certain grains like wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten has a wide range of functions within food production, which is why it is found in many different foods - making a gluten free diet notoriously difficult to follow. For example, gluten gives bread its soft chewy texture, and can also act as a stabilising agent or thickener, commonly found in sauces. Gluten can also be found in beer and wine, and is often credited for giving beer its body. In addition, many food processing operations share equipment with gluten-containing foods, meaning cross-contamination is common.
Whilst the science says that gluten is safe to consume for the vast majority of people, a medical condition called celiac disease requires patients to avoid gluten entirely. Celiac disease is a serious auto-immune disease in which the consumption of gluten leads to damage of the intestines. It is thought to affect around 1% of the population, and symptoms include abdominal pain. bloating and flatulence, indigestion, and constipation. The best treatment for celiac disease is to follow a strict gluten-free diet.
Are gluten free beers healthier?
There is absolutely no doubt that if you suffer from celiac disease or any other health condition that requires you to avoid gluten, gluten free beers are a healthier choice for you than beers containing gluten. But what if you don’t have to avoid gluten - how do these beers stack up?
There has been some evidence to suggest the gluten free beer is less likely to cause bloating - one of the main complaints often associated with drinking beer. Additionally, many gluten free beers also exclude animal derivatives, so they are suitable for vegetarians and vegans as well. However, the enzyme brewers use to produce gluten-free beer have little to no effect on the flavour, body or calorie, carb, and sugar content of the beer. And there is limited evidence to suggest that gluten-free beer is less fattening or healthier than a normal beer.
So, whilst there may not be conclusive evidence to show that drinking gluten free beer is healthier if you are not gluten intolerant, drinking gluten free beer is certainly not more unhealthy than drinking regular beer either. Anecdotally, many people report feeling less bloated and fatigued when cutting gluten out of their diet, so it’s definitely worth trying gluten free beers if you regularly suffer from these symptoms. With many gluten free beers that don’t compromise on taste available at Drink Well, you have nothing to lose by giving it a go.
How are gluten free beers made?
Standard beers are made from gluten-containing ingredients such as malted barley, wheat, and rye, hence why the end product usually contains gluten. In order to produce a beer that does not contain gluten, two methods are commonly used. The first involves using a malt made from gluten free cereals, such as sorghum, millet, buckwheat, rice, quinoa, or maize. The second method involves using a more traditional gluten-containing malt (such as barley or rye) and then reducing the gluten content. One way this is done is by using an enzyme in the fermentation process to break down the gluten. By law, manufacturers can only label their beer gluten free if it contains 20 ppm or less of gluten.
Gluten free beers available at Drink Well
Here at Drink Well, we understand the difficulties faced by those following a gluten free diet when it comes to identifying suitable gluten free beers. That’s why we clearly display all of the nutritional information for our beers on our website, helping you feel confident that the beer you choose is suitable for your needs. We have a wide and ever-growing range of reduced calorie, gluten free beers, lagers, and ciders sourced from some of the best emerging brewers on the market. Below are some options that we currently have available.
A relatively new addition to our collection, the DrinkWell IPA is the first Reduced Calorie and Carb IPA's ever produced in the UK! Impressively, it contains around 35% less calories than the average IPA, with just 99 calories per 330ml bottle. This 100% gluten free IPA is exceptionally smooth thanks to its reduced carbonation, and you’ll find it hard to believe it is reduced in calories when you experience the bucket loads of tropical and citrus flavour it has. Pick up a case of 12 from the Drink Well website for £19.99, and enjoy this exciting IPA safe in the knowledge that it’s suitable for your gluten free diet.
As the name suggests, Kona Light is a light beer with a golden hue. It is smooth, easy drinking and packed with interesting flavours, whilst also being lower in calories and carbs. It is made by Kona Brewing Co. based in exotic Hawaii, and is ideal for anyone watching their waistline, as it contains just 99 calories per bottle. Not only that, Kona Light has 0g of sugar, is gluten free and is suitable for a vegan diet. Buy a case of 12 for £29.99 from the Drink Well website today and bring a bit of gluten-free Hawaiin sunshine to your living room!
As our newest addition to our lower calorie beer offering, Tennents Light Lager comes in at just 3.5% ABV, making it another contribution to the growing moderation trend. With just 60 calories per bottle, this is the lowest calorie beer we have on offer - not that you could ever tell from the incredible taste. Tennents Light Lager is 100% gluten free and suitable for vegans, so why not purchase a case of 24 from the Drink Well Website for £29.99, and see for yourself what all the fuss is about!Browse Our Range of Low Calorie Beer