Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Is Beer Gluten-Free?

Health + Wellness
Pexels

By Makayla Meixner

Beer is a popular alcoholic drink that people worldwide have been enjoying for thousands of years (1Trusted Source).


In fact, it's the third most popular beverage behind water and tea (2Trusted Source).

Typically, beer is made using water, hops, yeast, and barley — a grain that contains gluten (3Trusted Source).

This article examines the gluten content of beer and how much gluten is in several main types, as well as whether any are safe for individuals with celiac disease.

How Most Beer is Made

Brewing beer is a complex process involving fermentation.

It's made by fermenting sugar from grains using yeast, which is a living organism. The yeast digests the sugar to produce alcohol (4Trusted Source).

Beer brewing usually involves four main ingredients (5Trusted Source):

  • Water. Typically comprising more than 90% of the final product, water is the main ingredient.
  • Hops. This special flower is traditionally added to provide a unique, bitter taste.
  • Grain. Serving as a source of sugar for fermentation, the most commonly used grains are barley, wheat, and rye — all of which contain gluten (6Trusted Source).
  • Yeast. This live, single-celled organism digests sugar to produce alcohol.

Breweries may also use other grains, flavorings, and additives to give their beer unique colors, tastes, and aromas. Some of these may also contain gluten.

Types of Beer and Gluten Content

Individuals with celiac disease must completely exclude gluten from their diets. In these people, it can damage the intestines, as well as cause stomach pain, diarrhea, unexplained weight loss, and poor absorption of nutrients (7Trusted Source).

That's why it's critical for anyone with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity to be aware of the gluten content of their foods and beverages, including beer.

The amount of gluten in beer is measured in parts per million (ppm).

In most countries, food and beverages must contain fewer than 20 ppm of gluten to be considered gluten-free (8Trusted Source).

Most conventionally brewed beer contains far more than 20 ppm of gluten, though the exact amount varies depending on the brewing process and ingredients used.

Here is the average gluten content of common types of beers (9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source):

  • Lager: 63 ppm
  • Stout: 361 ppm
  • Ales: 3,120 ppm
  • Wheat beer: 25,920 ppm

As you can see, the most common types of beer contain levels of gluten that are unsafe for people with celiac disease.

Summary

Most beer is made using grains and other additives that contain gluten, which makes it unsafe for individuals with celiac disease.

Gluten-Free Varieties

In most countries — including the United States, Canada, and many European countries — beer must have fewer than 20 ppm of gluten to be labeled gluten-free (11Trusted Source).

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests most individuals with celiac disease can consume this level of gluten without adverse effects (12Trusted Source).

To meet this standard, some breweries make the beverage from naturally gluten-free grains, such as rice, corn, sorghum, and millet (13).

Additionally, some breweries are dedicated gluten-free facilities to help avoid cross-contamination with gluten during the brewing process.

Other breweries have developed techniques to reduce gluten in traditional, barley-based beer, producing gluten-removed beer (14).

However, there is no guarantee that gluten-removed beer is safe for individuals with celiac disease. Though it has been processed to help reduce the gluten content, there is no reliable test to verify the amount of gluten they contain (15Trusted Source).

For individuals with celiac disease, it's best to stick with varieties labeled gluten-free.

Summary

Beer labeled gluten-free is likely safe for individuals with celiac disease. These varieties are made using gluten-free grains in facilities that prevent cross-contamination with gluten.

How to Find Gluten-Free Beer

Gluten-free beer is increasing in popularity (16).

Ask your local beer vendor to show you their selection of gluten-free beer, then make sure you're buying the right product by reading the packaging carefully.

Look for phrases or symbols indicating the product is gluten-free. Keep in mind that labeling standards vary by country.

If it's not clear whether your beer of choice contains gluten, it may be beneficial to contact the manufacturer directly or choose a different variety with straightforward labeling.

Alternatively, consider opting for wine or distilled liquors, as these are typically gluten-free. However, keep in mind that products vary. Regardless of the beverage you choose, it's best to examine the label carefully.

Summary

To make sure you're buying gluten-free beer, carefully read the packaging for regulated phrases or symbols that indicate the product is gluten-free. Many brands will say this explicitly on the label.

The Bottom Line

Most beer contains gluten, as it's traditionally brewed using gluten-containing grains — usually barley, wheat, or rye.

However, there are plenty of gluten-free options. Several varieties are made using gluten-free grains, and many breweries are dedicated gluten-free facilities.

Since most countries abide by strict labeling standards, varieties that bear a regulated gluten-free label are likely safe for individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The Anderson Community Group. Left to right, Caroline Laur, Anita Foust, the Rev. Bryon Shoffner, and Bill Compton, came together to fight for environmental justice in their community. Anderson Community Group

By Isabella Garcia

On Thanksgiving Day 2019, right after Caroline Laur had finished giving thanks for her home, a neighbor at church told her that a company had submitted permit requests to build an asphalt plant in their community. The plans indicated the plant would be 250 feet from Laur's backdoor.

Read More Show Less
Berber woman cooks traditional flatbread using an earthen oven in her mud-walled village home located near the historic village of Ait Benhaddou in Morocco, Africa on Jan. 4, 2016. Creative Touch Imaging Ltd. /NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Danielle Nierenberg and Jason Flatt

The world's Indigenous Peoples face severe and disproportionate rates of food insecurity. While Indigenous Peoples comprise 5 percent of the world's population, they account for 15 percent of the world's poor, according to the World Health Organization.

Read More Show Less
Danny Choo / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Olivia Sullivan

One of the many unfortunate outcomes of the coronavirus pandemic has been the quick and obvious increase in single-use plastic products. After COVID-19 arrived in the United States, many grocery stores prohibited customers from using reusable bags, coffee shops banned reusable mugs, and takeout food with plastic forks and knives became the new normal.

Read More Show Less
A mostly empty 110 freeway toward downtown Los Angeles, California on April 28, 2020. Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The shelter in place orders that brought clean skies to some of the world's most polluted cities and saw greenhouse gas emissions plummet were just a temporary relief that provided an illusory benefit to the long-term consequences of the climate crisis. According to new research, the COVID-19 lockdowns will have a "neglible" impact on global warming, as Newshub in New Zealand reported.

Read More Show Less
Centrosaurus apertus was a plant-eating, single-horned dinosaur that lived 76 to 77 million years ago. Sergey Krasovskiy / Stocktrek Images / Getty Images

Scientists have discovered and diagnosed the first instance of malignant cancer in a dinosaur, and they did so by using modern medical techniques. They published their results earlier this week in The Lancet Oncology.

Read More Show Less
Parks keep people happy in times of global crisis, economic shutdown and public anger. NPS

By Joe Roman and Taylor Ricketts

The COVID-19 pandemic in the United States is the deepest and longest period of malaise in a dozen years. Our colleagues at the University of Vermont have concluded this by analyzing posts on Twitter. The Vermont Complex Systems Center studies 50 million tweets a day, scoring the "happiness" of people's words to monitor the national mood. That mood today is at its lowest point since 2008 when they started this project.

Read More Show Less

Trending

The ubiquity of guns and bullets poses environmental risks. Contaminants in bullets include lead, copper, zinc, antimony and mercury. gorancakmazovic / iStock / Getty Images Plus

New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced Thursday that she will attempt to dismantle the National Rifle Association (NRA), arguing that years of corruption and mismanagement warrant the dissolution of the activist organization, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less