Once upon a time, not too long ago, the pairing of the words “beer” and “gluten-free” was somewhat of an oxymoron. People who had celiac disease or a gluten intolerance were forced to forgo their favorite alcoholic beverage and opt instead for wine or hard cider. But who pairs wine with a burger? [Insert sad emoticon.]
According to a 2011 report in AdAge, Americans per capita beverage consumption includes 44.7 gallons per person, per year, in soft drinks, 28.3 gallons in bottled water and 20.8 gallons in beer. That means beer tops milk, coffee, tea, wine, sports beverages and more, making it the third most consumed beverage in the United States.
Cold, hard truth for someone on a gluten-free diet? Maybe not.
Lament no more, my gluten-free pals, because nowadays gluten-free beers are popping up in grocery and beer stores around the globe. Check out these options for gluten-free beers and have a tasting party. I know … twist your arm, right?
Green’s Ales (amber ale, dubbel dark ale and tripel blonde)
Before I was diagnosed with celiac disease, Belgian beers were always one of my first picks. These beers fill that void and are definitely one of my top choices when selecting a gluten-free beer. Green’s beers have been brewed in Lochristi, Belgium at the DeProef Brewery since 2004. Inspired by strong European beers and developed to a closely guarded secret recipe, these specialty beers are brewed with a full body and crisp taste. Green’s beers are also void of eggs, fish, peanuts, crustaceans, soybeans, milk, lactose, nuts, celery, mustard, sesame seeds, sulfur dioxide and sulfites, making them the perfect, and perhaps the only choice for sensitive diets. (glutenfreebeers.co.uk)
Estrella Damm Daura
Unlike other gluten-free beer options, which use sorghum as a substitute for wheat or grain, Daura uses barley-malt to provide the “real beer taste.” The process relies on a fairly new method of making “de-glutened” beers where gluten is extracted from the finished product, making it safe to consume for those with gluten intolerance. The end result is a gluten content level that is less than six parts per million (ppm), far below the Food and Drug Administration’s requirement of 20 ppm or less for products labeled gluten-free. (estrelladamm.com)
New Planet Beer
This Colorado-based brewer boasts several light-body ales, including Tread Lightly Ale, Off the Grid and 3R Raspberry Ale. With a facility dedicated to brewing gluten-free craft beer, New Planet’s brews are made from fermented sorghum and corn, hops and yeast. (newplanetbeer.com)
Redbridge and Bard’s Tale
Think of these beers as the Budweiser of gluten-free beers – Redbridge is actually produced by Anheuser-Busch, the maker of Budweiser. Both Redbridge and Bard’s are made from 100 percent malted sorghum. These beers are more accessible to the public than some of the other lesser-known gluten-free beers, making them a convenient option. (redbridgebeer.com and bardsbeer.com)
Dogfish Head Brewery Tweason’ Ale
The popular Delaware-based brewer introduced their gluten-free brew in September 2012. Light and on the sweet side, this sorghum-based beer boasts a strawberry flavor punch, making it the perfect light dinner accompaniment. The beer is only available four times a year to the brewery’s national network of distributors. (dogfish.com)
Based in Oregon, this company also employs a brewing method that involves “de-glutened” beers, which are made with low protein barley. Omission provides a detailed explanation of the process on their site, including a rare opportunity for consumers to check the gluten content of the beer they purchase. Each bottle of beer is stamped with a date code that can be entered on the brewery’s site to view that batch’s R5 competitive ELISA test results. The company makes a lager and pale ale. (omissionbeer.com)
Angry Orchard and Woodchuck Hard Cider
If beer just isn’t your thing, then you may want to consider a hard cider. Naturally gluten-free, brands like Angry Orchard and Woodchuck offer several variations on the beverage, like Crisp Apple, Traditional Dry and Ginger (Angry Orchard), and Amber, Granny Smith and Raspberry (Woodchuck). (angryorchard.com and woodchuck.com)
The truth is, even if you aren’t an ardent beer drinker, the availability of gluten-free beers opens other doors, such as devising variations of your favorite recipes for beer-battered fish or that Guinness beer cake you used to love making for St. Patty’s Day. Try ‘em out and discover your favorites.
Caroline Shannon-Karasik is the upcoming author of a gluten-free healthy lifestyle book, set to be released in January 2014. She is the author of the popular gluten-free blog, TheGSpotRevolution.com and is currently training to become a certified health coach. Her writing and recipe development has been featured in several publications, including, VegNews, Kiwi and REDBOOK magazines. Caroline lives with her husband Dan and four adopted cats in Pittsburgh, Penn. Caroline can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.