I've been meaning to try gluten free beer for a while, because I knew that some of my readers miss their beer and would like to know their options in this area.
For a while I stayed with wine as my only gluten free alcohol option, purely out of a lack of curiosity. I didn't realize I'd been missing out!
In my 20's I used to drink beer like a fish. I grew up in Kenya and lived there through most of my twenties. I've a strong opinion that the only other nationality that beats Kenyans when it comes to beer drinking are the Irish.
But then I moved to Utah at 27 and, let's just say the beer (beer water?) there killed my love of beer. Don't get me wrong I love Utahns, just not the alcohol shenanigans there.
But then again I was becoming increasingly gluten sensitive anyway, so the timing was right.
So, recently I decided that I wanted to see if gluten free beer actually tasted any good.
I went to the Brick Oven Pizza (South Location) here in Austin that has a sizable gluten free menu, and discovered that they do carry the two brands of gluten free beer I'd heard a lot about: RedBridge and Bard's.
I'm not necessarily going to give my personal opinion on the tastes of the beers - I think it's best you try it for yourself and have fun deciding what works for you.
What I can tell you though, is that for somebody that used to be sort of a beer snob, both Redbridge and Bard's scratched my itch for a nice brew on a hot Austin afternoon.
As well, the nice waiter at Brick Oven informed me that Redbridge is the more popular one. I concur.
Did you know that the FDA does not require beer companies to disclose food allergens on their labels? That's right! Wheat is a known food allergen.
So, I think that, unless a beer is clear about the ingredients they've used, it's best not to assume it's gluten free.
The thing is, there's no downside to a company labeling a product "gluten free" if in fact it is, or at least I can't think of any. Most traditional beer will be made with wheat and barley, it's pretty standard.
As an example, Redbridge, a product of Anheuser-Busch, Inc., it has "gluten free" clearly on the label, and the ingredients are listed on their label as well. The main ingredients are sorghum, corn syrup, hops and yeast.
There are a few other gluten free beers available in the market that I haven't had a chance to try, though I'm sure it won't be long before I do.
Sprecher, a company out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin makes two gluten free beers as of now - Shakparo and Mbege.
Researching these two beers made me feel a bit homesick, as they are adopted African brews. Wheat and Barley were never a traditionally African crop, so traditional African beer would be completely gluten free.
Sprecher claims that these beers should appeal to the gluten free beer drinker because they were specifically made with an authentic gluten free recipe, meaning the company didn't take an existing regular recipe and alter it to adopt to a gluten free crowd.
Mbege is made with Sorghum, banan juice and millet, while Shakparo is made with sorghum and millet.
I've heard people talk about other gluten free beers, but I haven't personally tried more. I've read about a few online, but I hesitate to write about them until I'm clear of their authenticity.
So if you have any that you know of, please help fellow gluten freers by filling out the form below and writing (even briefly) about other brews for gluten intolerant people that you have tried or know of.
I've come across some beers labeled "gluten free" yet they clarified that they do have a small amount of barley malt - apparently they can do that because the meet the World Health Organization's requirement of less than 20 ppm.
Well, that's nice of them to stick to WHO guidelines, but as far as I know a lot of celiac disease sufferers cannot stomach even a little contamination, let alone deliberate inclusion of gluten.
Be sure you're clear about what grains to avoid when looking for your gluten free beer.
We'd love to hear ALL about it....