We taste-tested cold & frosty brews from around the country and beyond to find the best you can buy.
After reviewing the best gluten-free pancakes, cookies and snack bars, we’ve been really thirsty. This issue, we wanted to review gluten-free beer, just in time for summer barbecues and before fall cookouts. We scoured the states for gluten-free beer, ordered online wherever we could and even made a day trip with an empty suitcase to purchase gluten-free beer—that’s dedication!
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It’s not easy to find gluten-free beer. There are a handful of brands stocked in natural grocery stores, but most gluten-free beer is regional, without shipping options. While you may be able to order some online, shipping rules for alcohol vary by state and shipping beer can be expensive.
We put together a list of some top brews, so you’ll be able to approach your local liquor store, grocery store or chain to ask for these quality gluten-free beers, or at least you’ll know what to order online.
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Get ready to stock your fridge with some great gluten-free beer!
Our Reasers’ Favorite GF Beer
Readers enthusiastically responded to our GF Beer Survey (over 800 of you voted). These
truly gluten-free beer brands (not gluten-removed) came out on top, with Redbridge taking the number one spot.
Important Info About Gluten-Reduced Beer
Most beer is made from malted barley, which contains gluten, or it can be made from wheat (Weisse beer) or rye. But gluten-free beer is brewed using other grains, including sorghum, buckwheat, millet and brown rice—making it naturally gluten-free.
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Many companies, including Ground Breaker Brewing and Lakefront Brewery, make gluten-free beer from these grains. Some of these companies take the extra step to make sure their beer is certified gluten-free, providing extra assurance for consumers. Indeed, half of our readers surveyed look specifically for certified gluten-free beer. Most of the top beer we list are certified gluten-free, though those that don’t carry the certification still use safety practices to keep celiacs safe.
However, there’s another category of beer that’s labeled “gluten removed,” “gluten reduced” or “crafted to reduce gluten.” Here’s where things get tricky. Brewers add an enzyme called Clarex to break down the gluten molecule into smaller pieces that are too small to be detected in lab tests and supposedly too small for your body to detect as gluten. But even though these “gluten reduced” beers contain less than 20 ppm of gluten, they may not be safe for those with celiac disease.
A 2017 Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) study looked at whether gluten-free or gluten-reduced beer induced an immune response in blood samples from individuals with celiac disease. None of the blood samples indicated a reaction to the gluten-free beer. However, the gluten-reduced beer elicited an immune response in almost 10 percent of the celiac blood samples. As comparison, none of the non-celiac control group showed a reaction to the gluten-reduced beer. This may indicate that there are residual gluten peptides that may be specifically recognized by people with celiac disease.
Until more studies are conducted, gluten-reduced beer is not recommended for people with celiac disease.
Managing editor Erica Dermer is author of Celiac and the Beast: A Love Story between a Gluten-Free Girl, Her Genes and a Broken Digestive Tract.