What beers are gluten-free and where can I find them?
Ok...so I'm guessing you are here because you are looking for three things: 1) the unfiltered truth about gluten-free and gluten-removed beer and the vital difference between them; 2) what beers are gluten-free; and 3) where exactly you can find gluten-free beer.
I'll start with my history of beer. Bear with me. Or beer with me. When I was a kid, my dad drank Black Label beer out of a can (too often as it turned out...RIP dad). He very occasionally would offer me a sip and while I had no idea what "alcohol" was at this age, I thought it was cool that I was drinking "dad's drink".
I also remember my very first own beer at a party in (if my kids are reading this...STOP HERE) seventh grade. It was a 7 oz. bottle of Miller and Bill Reeves gave it to me.
Fast forward to my college years and beer became a "how much can we get for the least amount of money humanly possible" kind of thing. Taste did not matter.
But then as I got older (I was going to say "matured" but who am I kidding?), I began to develop an appreciation for real beer. The 90 Minute IPA from Dogfish, the interesting varieties from Magic Hat, the care put in by a local brewery. Early in my years, I drank beer. Later in my years, I enjoyed beer. Big difference.
Then celiac hit. BAM! No more beer. I was crushed. I was devastated. I was crestfallen. You get the point. But wait...there is a gluten-free beer on the market called Red Bridge. YAY! I can drink beer after all. One taste and BLAH! No more beer.
But then something good happened. Other companies began brewing gluten-free beer that actually tasted delish and were completely safe for celiacs. Life was whole again.
End of story, right? I wish.
Other companies jumped in and decided to make "gluten-removed" beer. Just the name of it pi$$e$ me off. And confusion reigned, which sometimes is the norm in the celiac world.
So what is the difference between gluten-free beer and gluten-removed beer?
It basically comes down to profit over people. Gluten-free beer is exactly what it sounds like. It’s beer made with zero gluten ingredients and in a dedicated gluten free facility. Completely celiac safe. Gluten-removed beer, on the other hand, uses a proprietary process where they use gluten containing grains, usually barley, when they brew the beer. And then they add an enzyme, which theoretically removes enough of the gluten so the final product is below 20 parts per million. The problem is it’s not scientifically valid, and has been proven over and over again not to work on a consistent basis, which is why they are not allowed to call themselves gluten-free (in most countries.) And there have been multiple recalls of gluten-removed beer over the years because of...wait for it...too much gluten. Yep.
Which beers are gluten-removed and should be avoided? Good question. The two biggies that own the market are Omission and Daura and these are the ones that you'll find in the gluten-free section in grocery/liquor stores and under gluten-free beers on restaurant menus. Like I said it pi$$e$ me off. There are a handful of other companies that make gluten-reduced beer. Just be real careful to check all labels.
What beers are 100% gluten-free?
Good question. The two earliest adopters were Red Bridge and Bards. I appreciate these two opening the doors to the world of gluten-free beer, but if we can be honest, they both taste pretty bad.
Here are my favorite gluten-free beers, in no specific order:
- Buck Wild
- Burning Brothers
And here are a few others that I have not tried yet:
- Alt Brew
- Divine Science Brewing
- BC Brewery
- Heathen's Brewery
- Neff Brewing
- Brewery NYX
- Rolling Mill
- Dos Luces Brewery
- Departed Soles
- Moonshrimp Brewing
- Two Bays Brewing
I'm sure I am missing a few from this list. Again, when buying GF beer, BE SURE TO CHECK THE LABELS AND MAKE SURE IT IS 100% GLUTEN FREE.
And now for the really important question...
Where can I find gluten-free beer?
Ah...another fine question. Because let's be honest, as much as we love gluten-free beer, tons of places still do not carry any (but gladly carry gluten-removed beer!) This frustration led to me including this feature on the Gluten Dude app. See those screenshots above? That is my app and there are over 17,000 stores, bars and restaurants on the app that carry gluten-free beer. I've been to every one of these places. Just kidding. The beer companies send me their locations every 3 months and I add them to the app.