Unfortunately not, regular beer is not gluten-free. Beer is produced using a mix of malted grain and hops. Now and then wheat is utilized in the brewery measure. Since both grain and wheat contain gluten, beers produced using either are not gluten-free.
Individuals with celiac disease must completely exclude gluten from their diets. It can damage the intestines, as well as cause stomach pain, diarrhea, unexplained weight loss, and poor absorption of nutrients.
That’s why it’s critical for anyone with celiac disease 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. Most 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:
Lager: 63 ppm
Stout: 361 ppm
Ales: 3,120 ppm
Wheat beer: 25,920 ppm
As should be obvious, the most recognized kinds of beer contain levels of gluten. Those are dangerous for individuals with celiac sickness.
There are two different ways to make gluten-free beer. The first is to use malt from gluten-free cereals or pseudocereals such as sorghum, millet, buckwheat, rice, quinoa, or maize. These beers often have different aromas and flavors from regular beer.
The second method is to produce a beer using a gluten-containing malt (wheat, barley, or rye). And then introduce a process to reduce the gluten content so that it complies with the law on gluten-free and contains 20 ppm or less of gluten. One way of doing this is to use an enzyme at the start of the fermentation process to break down the gluten protein.
By law, manufacturers can only label their beer gluten-free if it contains 20 ppm or less of gluten. Laboratory testing is the best way to assess the amount of gluten in a product. But there can be difficulties when testing beer using the usual R5 ELISA Sandwich method (used for foods), due to the gluten being broken down. An alternative method is available (R5 ELISA Competitive). This is a more effective way to measure the gluten in beer and other hydrolyzed or fermented products.
Unlike most traditional beers, gluten-free varieties are made from gluten-free grains. Beers are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) instead of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).
According to FDA regulation, gluten-free beers must contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten.
You’ll likely come across beers labeled “gluten-removed” or “gluten-reduced”. But these are not gluten-free.
Gluten-removed beer is made from a gluten-containing grain like barley, wheat, or rye. It’s processed using enzymes that digest gluten particles into smaller fragments. That may pose a low risk of causing an immune response in someone with a gluten allergy or intolerance.
The effectiveness of the removal process hasn’t been validated. And the gluten content of gluten-reduced or gluten-removed beer may vary between batches. Gluten-removed beer could still cause an immune response in some people with celiac disease. Hence, gluten-removed beers are not recommended if you have a severe gluten intolerance or allergy.
There has been confusion over whether people with celiac disease can consume these beverages. The current consensus is that gluten-removed beers are not yet safe for those with celiac disease.