Gluten Free Beer
What You Should Know about Gluten Free Beer
Gluten free beer is a substitute for traditional beer. Since beer is typically made from barley malt, it contains a gluten compound called hordein. Although the amount of gluten may be small, even trace amounts can cause an adverse reaction in people with celiac disease.
How Is Gluten Free Beer Made?
There are a couple of ways to create beer that is gluten free. The first option is to get rid of gluten by removing it mechanically or chemically. Some brewers use micro-filtration to remove the gluten compounds from beer. Others use an enzyme that targets the protein compounds in gluten and break them down. Both methods may be used together to further reduce the risk of gluten remaining in the beer. Beverages treated with this process are sometimes called gluten-removed beers.
The other option is to use a grain other than barley as the basic ingredient for creating alcohol. For example, sorghum, buckwheat, or millet can be fermented and made into beer. Some breweries use this alternative, and it is also a viable option for home brewing. Only beer made with alternative grains can be guaranteed to be completely gluten free.
Why Aren’t All Gluten Free Beers Really Gluten Free?
In the United States, gluten does not have to be completely eliminated to gain the gluten free label. It must be reduced to 20ppm (parts per million) or less. This means some gluten-removed beers do still contain a small amount of gluten. Interestingly, even many standard beers that are not processed to remove gluten come in under the 20ppm limit. This level of gluten contamination is considered by the FDA to be acceptable for celiac disease sufferers. However, it’s up to each person to determine their level of safe exposure. Opting for gluten-free beers may still be best choice for particularly sensitive individuals.