For some people, including those with celiac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis, avoiding gluten is not a diet choice but a necessity in order to maintain their health. In response to the growing demand for gluten free products, there are now several gluten free alternatives available - but is there such a thing as gluten free beer? And are these healthier than standard beers? Let's take a look.
Is beer gluten free? Most beers contain gluten because of the ingredients used during the brewing process which include certain grains, barley, wheat, and rye - all of which are unsuitable for gluten free diets. Some brewers offer gluten free beer alternatives, which are brewed using sugars, rice, buckwheat, and maize.
Are gluten free beers healthier for you? Whilst the calories in beer and gluten free beer remain similar, gluten free beer drinkers report feeling less bloated and fatigued when compared to drinking regular beer. Apart from a few small differences, there is limited evidence to suggest that gluten free beer is less fattening or healthier than a normal beer.
Read on to find out more about how gluten free beers are made, if lager contains gluten, as well as our recommendations for the best lower calorie and gluten free beers from DrinkWell.
Does Beer Contain Gluten?
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 medallists said they followed a gluten free diet most of the time. But do they get to enjoy a refreshing, malty beer or lager from time to time?
Most conventional beers use ingredients that contain gluten to give beer its ‘body’ and thicker mouthfeel. Ingredients in a typical beer include certain grains like wheat, rye, and barley which are unsuitable for those following a gluten free diet or those diagnosed with Coeliac disease.
However, due to the technology available today, a growing number of brewers have created just-as-delicious gluten free beers, with an array of options now available online and in supermarkets. Instead of traditional grains, brewers instead opt for alternatives such as rice, buckwheat, maize, and other sources of sugar. When gluten free beers were first brewed, sorghum was often used - however this quickly declined in popularity due to the sour taste it gave!
Does Lager Contain Gluten?
Most popular brands of lager unfortunately do contain gluten. This is due to the common ingredients from which the bubbly drink is made which include wheat, barley and rye. However, some specialist brewers have worked a way around this, with many now stocking a range of delicious gluten free lagers! If you’re looking for lagers suitable for your dietary needs, try the popular Tenants Light Lager or the SkinnyBrands Lager.
If you’d like to learn more about gluten free drink options, why not explore some of our recent blog posts? In the article ‘Is Wine Gluten Free?’, we discuss how gluten free wine is made, and we answer some of your most asked questions!
Are Gluten Free Beers Healthier For You?
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 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 has 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 DrinkWell, you have nothing to lose by giving it a go.
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 to 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.
How is Gluten Free Beer 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.
Which Beers Are Gluten Free?
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 of the gluten free beer options that we currently have available.
A relatively new addition to our collection, the DrinkWell IPA is the first reduced calorie and carb IPA 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!
From the UK’s number one low calorie drink producer, SkinnyBrands Lager offers a reasonable 4% ABV whilst remaining under 90 calories per can or bottle. The brand has led the change to healthier beer alternatives that don’t compromise on quality. This refreshing drink offers a premium malty flavour, whilst remaining suitable for vegans and gluten free. Our top-rated gluten free beers are available in packs of twelve for just £16.99 - stock up for your next summer BBQ or family get-together!
The classic British-brewed IPA from Lean Brew offers top notes of citrus and tropical fruits, with a lingering bitterness of malty undertones. As one of our most popular gluten free beers available on our website, customers love that this can offer 35% fewer calories than other IPA's on the market today. At just 99 calories per can, you can enjoy this drink without worrying about your waistline. We should also mention that the delicious Lean Brew IPA won gold at the European Craft Beer Awards in 2021!Browse Our Gluten Free Beer Collection