With today’s technological advances and more health-conscious forward-thinking people, it should be no wonder that one of the main requests when it comes to diet-friendly beer on our shelves is, “Do you have any gluten-free beer?” Barley and wheat, principal ingredients in beer, have been found to cause a reaction in people who have gluten intolerance and as special reports flash madly over the news, we have all heard that the number of people who can’t have gluten, or merely have chosen to engage in a gluten-free lifestyle, are on the rise.
Many breweries from around the world are starting to create gluten-free options for consumers with restrictive diets. Breweries have the option of brewing with ingredients like buckwheat, corn, rice, millet and sorghum, and after they are finished, they are required to test their beer for gluten to be considered “gluten-free.” Even after testing, however, some gluten-intolerant people have complained of symptoms; if you are gluten-intolerant, be aware that everyone’s sensitivity is different. If you are an avid beer lover, but you find yourself in this predicament, there are viable options on our shelves.
If you are a Dogfish Head fan, you are in luck! The Tweason’ale is a beer that substitutes sorghum as its base and is brewed with strawberry and buckwheat honey. There have been some complaints that gluten-free beer lacks something in flavor, but the Tweason’ale is light and flavorful due to the addition of fruit and honey in its creation. New Planet, from the beer-giant state of Colorado, has made it their mission to brew 100% gluten-free beer. They have a wide variety for those with particular tastes: pale ale, blonde ale, raspberry ale and Belgian ale. Their founder, Pedro Gonzalez, started the company after finding out he had celiac disease, so every beer from his company is geared towards allowing people like him to enjoy beer.
Another brewery worth mentioning creates their beer using a special process. Omission beer, brewed by Widmer Brothers Brewing in Oregon, brews their beer with barley—a gluten-containing ingredient. They use a special process to remove gluten and test their beer to make sure that its gluten levels are below the requirement, but it should be noted that gluten fragments remain. Whether these fragments have a negative effect on your body is up to your gluten sensitivity. While there are many reasons why people go gluten-free, those with a very high sensitivity to gluten have opted for alternative gluten-free beer. Rule-of-thumb: always pick a beer that your body can handle.
Makenzie Ladd, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits beer consultant – Sarasota
Follow me on Twitter @abcbeermakenzie