Enjoying a cold beer is one of the most simple pleasures in life. Whether you’re celebrating the end of a busy week at work or enjoying some time in the sunshine with a few friends, good beer is truly a treat for the senses.
However, if you have to follow a gluten-free diet, enjoying a beer is likely more stressful than it is relaxing. Beer tends to have naturally high levels of gluten, and as such, the refreshing drink can cause havoc on the body if you are intolerant.
Unfortunately, for many years, gluten-free beers have been difficult to come by. Though, if you have managed to get your hands on some, it's likely that its distinct flavor has caught you off guard.
However, thanks to innovative work within the brewing industry, there are now a huge variety of gluten-free beers available.
Below, we’ve listed our 5 favorite gluten-free beers, which range from classic lagers to more hoppy ales. They each have been hand-selected according to their brewing processes, taste, and reputation.
When buying gluten-free beer, the range in jargon alone can be difficult to get your head around. That's why we’ve also included a handy buyer’s guide.
It consists of some clear detail on what the different gluten-free labels mean, as well as some things you should consider before buying a gluten-free beer. Check it out below!
OUR TOP PICK
Since the launch of Daura Damm lager in 2006, it has received numerous awards from prestigious international competitions. It has been recognized as the best gluten-free beer in the world, and so many drinkers agree!
It is brewed on a base of barley and rice, and as its label states, this beer is ‘created to remove gluten’.
This means that, rather than being made from completely gluten-free ingredients (which is pretty impossible when it comes to beer), an enzyme was used to reduce the gluten content.
Food and beverages that are under 20 parts per million (ppm) can be labeled as gluten-free, as this level is not toxic to people with coeliac disease.
This beer in particular is below 3ppm, and as such, is a particularly safe choice for people with serious gluten intolerance or coeliac disease.
It is a pale golden-amber color and has a particularly crisp and light/medium style with an ever-so-slight bitter finish.
There are some warm, spicy undertones that give it a particularly familiar, classic, commercial larger flavor. The hops are definitely detectable and help add a slight dryness at the end of the palate.
This gluten-free beer sits comfortably at the top of our list due to its accessibility. It is rare to find an award-winning, gluten-free beer available from so many supermarkets and online marketplaces.
Next time you’re at Walmart or perusing amazon, be sure to pick some up!
- 3ppm - gluten content is safe for people with coeliac disease.
- Award-winning - excellent quality beer.
- Commercial larger flavor - likely to please a lot of people.
- Flavor - may not work for beer and ale enthusiasts.
Peroni was established in Vigevano, Italy, in 1846. The Peroni family created the ‘Peroni Nastro Azzurro’ to be the embodiment of quality Italian craftsmanship.
The name `Nastro Azzurro’, or ‘blue ribbon’ in English, was inspired by the ‘Blue Ribbon Award’ which was presented to the Italian Ocean Liner Rex.
Since then, Peroni Nastro Azzuro has become a globally recognized lager, with a distinct flavor that has won the hearts of beer drinkers everywhere.
Now, people following a gluten-free diet can finally get in on the action, thanks to Peroni releasing a Nastro Azzurro Gluten-Free!
The gluten-free version of the Nastro Azzuro actually uses the exact same ingredients as the regular version. However, like the Daura Damm above, an enzyme is added at the end of the brewing process which works to eliminate the gluten.
This drink is actually endorsed by the Italian Coeliac Association, meaning it is a very safe choice for those with coeliac disease or intense gluten intolerance.
In terms of taste, from the gluten-free version of Nastro Azzurro, you can expect the same wonderfully delicate balance of citrus and bitterness which is provided by the original.
It even has that super refreshing crispness, that goes down oh-so-well on a hot summer’s day. It is also quite easy to get your hands on!
- Endorsed by Italian Coeliac Association - safe for individuals with coeliac disease.
- Tastes like the original - a good-quality, familiar lager.
- Accessible - easy to find.
- Taste - not necessarily ideal for beer enthusiasts.
Stone Brewing Co. is the largest brewing company based in California, USA. Most of their beers have a high hop content and thus embody the stereotypical west-coast craft brew.
They have won quite an impressive number of awards, ranging from Gold at the 2007 Great American Beer Festival to Gold at the 2014 U.S. Open Beer Championship.
Following in the footsteps of its predecessors, Delicious IPA is brewed with Lemondrop and El Dorado hops and has a rich, dark golden color.
It has a moderate aroma of orange and lemon with subtle hints of pine. It leaves a slightly bitter finish, thanks to the way its herbal, citrus, and malt flavors meld and linger.
Like the other beers listed here, Delicious IPA is brewed using barely. However, it undergoes an innovative fermentation process that serves to eliminate vast amounts of gluten.
In fact, its gluten levels are less than 20 ppm, which is below the FDA requirement for the title of ‘gluten-free’ or ‘gluten-reduced.
For those of you who have been pining for a gluten-free beer with more substance and strength, Delicious IPA might solve all of your problems.
It is a great IPA with an impressively deceptive strength of 7.7% ABV. It is also vegan, making it an ideal beverage for health-conscious, eco-conscious, lovers of IPAs.
- Award-winning brewery - make excellent quality beer.
- 7.7% - ideal for people looking for a stronger beverage.
- IPA - has a great hoppy, bold flavor.
- IPA - not to everyone's tastes.
Big Drop Brewing Co. is dedicated to exclusively making delicious tasting beer with very low alcohol content.
They focus on developing the finest 0.5% ABV beer possible and have won an incredible number of awards for their efforts. In particular, their craft brews are critically acclaimed by World Beer Awards 2017, as the World’s Best in Style.
Unlike most low-alcohol beers, Big Drop doesn’t remove the alcohol post-brew. Rather, they brew to 0.5% in order to maintain the great, bold flavors you need from a good beer.
Big Drop Co. was actually a pioneer in this area, as the first brewery solely dedicated to producing low alcohol beers. They are definitely experts in the field of innovating beer to be more widely accessible!
It should come as no surprise then, that they have not just one, but several gluten-free lines. These range from lager to stouts, though our favorite has to be the Pine Trail Pale.
It is truly a delight for the senses thanks to its noticeable floral and citrus aromas and its balanced but obviously bitter finish. Despite its big, bold flavor, it also happens to be naturally low in calories!
We also love Big Drop’s Galactic Milk Stout and their Paradiso Citra IPA. If you need convincing that non-alcoholic, gluten-free beer can be a delicious beverage in its own right, you should definitely take a look at Big Drop’s selection.
As a bonus, these beers are all below 10ppm, making them an extra safe choice for people with coeliac disease.
- Award-winning - excellent quality beer.
- 0.5% - ideal for individuals who are trying to cut down on their alcohol intake.
- Low calories - healthier than most other beers.
- 0.5% - may not suit people who prefer a stronger drink.
Finally, if you’ve become endlessly frustrated with the range of gluten-free beers available, why not try to brew your own?
The Craft A Brew Store has created a kit to help you make your own beer, whether you want to brew an American Pale Ale specifically to your tastes, or a Hard Cider which knocks your socks off, they have you covered!
They have a specific kit to help you make a Gluten-Free Ale. Rather than malt extract, they provide you with sorghum extract, and dark Belgian Cani sugar, which creates a very unique flavor that is similar to that of a Belgian Dubbel.
You don’t need any experience at all to use this kit, as it is specifically designed to help first-timers to get the most out of their beer experience.
The kit comes with a Craft and Brew Guide to Craft Brewing, which not only details the basics of brewing but teaches you the art of the practice!
It also comes equipped with all the supplies you will need, including a 1-gallon carboy, funnel, racking cane, rubber stopper, transfer tubing and thumb clamp, airlock, thermometer, sanitizer, and the Gluten-Free Ale recipe kit.
The equipment is also reusable, meaning you can brew your own beer over and over again!
- Brew your own - can make beer to your own tastes.
- Full reusable kit - means you can brew your own beer over and over again.
- Beginner-friendly - ideal for people wanting to try something new.
- Brew your own - the fussy process isn't for everyone.
Naturally gluten-free vs gluten-reduced
The labels on gluten-free beers can be quite confusing, which can make the process of buying them really stressful!
Having a beer on a Friday evening should be a relaxing experience, rather than one saturated with concerns about how your body is going to respond if you happen to misunderstand the product description.
There are generally two labels that indicate that beer is somewhat gluten-free. The pretty self-explanatory ‘gluten-free’ label, and the less comforting ‘gluten-reduced’ label.
Although, the differences between these two aren’t as complicated as you might think. The labels actually just refer to the type of brewing process the beer has undergone.
Beers with a gluten-free label have been brewed from start to finish using ingredients that contain zero gluten. Gluten-free beers are usually made in dedicated gluten-free breweries, which are completely free of ingredients such as barley, wheat, rye, and any of their hybrids.
To brew these beers, malt from naturally gluten-free cereals or pseudocereals is used, such as sorghum, buckwheat, rice, quinoa, maize, or millet. As you might imagine, these beers don’t tend to replicate the taste of regular beers, but rather have a distinct flavor.
Beers with a gluten-reduced label have been brewed using ingredients that contain gluten, such as wheat, barley, or rye. The gluten is removed after brewing, usually by using an enzyme or other process.
Once removed, the gluten content in these beers has to contain less than 20ppm of gluten. These beers tend to taste more familiar and manage to replicate the hoppy flavors of regular beers well.
Are gluten-free beers always safe for people with coeliac disease?
The confusion comes in when the labels are used interchangeably. Although they should strictly be used in accordance with their brewing process, different countries have different regulations on their usage.
As such, some beers that have been brewed using glutinous products may also have the gluten-free label, as long as the gluten content is less than 20 ppm.
Though it has been shown that it is safe for people with coeliac disease and intense gluten intolerances to consume products with a gluten content of less than 20 ppm, some may still feel uncomfortable consuming a product that was made using glutinous ingredients.
IF this is you, we advise you to check the ingredients of the beer, regardless of the label, for your own peace of mind.
The next most important thing to consider is your own personal preference. Do you prefer the taste of a more standard lager or are you a fan of a bolder ale? Are you looking for a nice and familiar taste or are you looking to branch out and try something with a more unique flavor?
If you love the refreshing taste of a crisp, commercial lager, then look for a brand that is popular and well-trusted.
You’d be surprised how many big beer brands are now producing gluten-free versions of their most popular beverages! For instance, you could try the Peroni Gluten-Free Nastro Azzurro listed above!
For the longest time, it seemed as though gluten-free craft beers and ales would always be a pipe dream. However, that definitely isn't the case anymore!
If you like a stronger beer or ale with a distinct punch, there are gluten-free options out there. For instance, take a look at beers produced by Purity Brewing and Magic Rock Brewing, you won't be disappointed!
If, however, you want to try something different, look for beers that have been brewed using products that contain no gluten. These beers have to be brewed innovatively, using malt from gluten-free sources such as sorghum or rice.
These beers don't tend to try and replicate the taste of regular beer, but rather are something delicious in their own right!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Gluten?
Gluten is the name given to multiple proteins that are found in certain grains. These proteins are found in many different foods, and often provide things with their typical texture or consistency.
For instance, it gives bread its soft, chewy texture, and also often acts as a thickener in different sauces.
How is gluten-free beer made?
This depends on the type of gluten-free beer. Some gluten-free beers are made using ingredients that contain absolutely no gluten, such as malt from sorghum, buckwheat, rice, or quinoa.
Other gluten-reduced beers are made using the same ingredients and processes as regular beers, including the use of glutinous products. However, they undergo a process, which is usually the addition of an enzyme, that eliminates the majority of the gluten content.
How can you tell if beer is gluten-free?
If you are looking for a beer that has not included gluten in any part of the brewing process, you can generally trust the gluten-free label. However, sometimes the gluten-free and gluten-reduced labels are used interchangeably, so it is always important to check the label.
Although, even gluten-reduced beers contain very little gluten. In fact, it has been declared safe for people with coeliac disease to consume things that contain a gluten content of 20 ppm or less. As such, for most people, gluten-reduced beer will be suitable.
Can people with coeliac disease drink gluten-reduced beer?
Generally, gluten-reduced or gluten-removed beer is safe for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerances. However, recent studies have suggested that, for some individuals with coeliac disease, gluten-removed beer isn’t always a completely safe choice. As such, gluten-removed beer is not certified by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization.
Ultimately, this comes down to your own condition and preferences. If you feel comfortable drinking gluten-reduced beer, then that's great! If you’re unsure, remember that completely gluten-free options are available.
Does gluten-free beer have a lower alcohol content?
No. Gluten-free does not mean low alcohol. In fact, gluten-free beers can have just as high, or a higher, alcohol content as regular beers.
If you are looking for a low-alcohol, gluten-free beer, these do exist! Check out the Big Drop Brewing Co. that we discussed above.
Is gluten-free beer healthier?
If you suffer from coeliac disease or any other health condition that requires you to avoid gluten, then gluten-free beers are without a doubt the healthy choice.
Even if you don’t need to avoid gluten, there may be some benefits. Some people claim that gluten-free beers are less likely to cause bloating, and gluten-free beers also tend to exclude animal derivatives, so they are generally more suitable for vegans and vegetarians also.
However, there is no solid evidence to suggest that gluten-free beers are healthier than regular beers if you don’t need to avoid gluten.