It seems more and more of my friends can’t drink beer due to gluten intolerances. Even my dog has a gluten allergy for Christ’s sake. For booze lovers, the problem is that gluten is found in barley, wheat and rye — major building blocks of most beers.
People who have gluten sensitivities, particularly those with celiac disease, have to follow a gluten–free diet. Celiac disease is a digestive disorder of the small intestine, causing chronic failure to properly digest food unless most gluten is excluded from the diet.
But this isn’t isolated to those with health issues; many people are trying to find beers made without gluten.
Until very recently, those on a glute-free beer quest were only able to drink gluten-free if they experimented with home brewing, but the market has changed. In the last decade, the gluten-free beer selection in Alberta has expanded from one brew to six, with some interesting examples in a variety of styles.
Most beers are made from barley and wheat, while gluten-free beer is generally made from buckwheat, sorghum or rice, so switching to a gluten-free beverage will take some adjustment — these beers do not taste like regular brews.
Each person has a different level at which an autoimmune response will be activated and there is debate over the acceptable amount of gluten for celiac patients. Some celiacs may be able to drink beer at under 20 parts per million, such as Budweiser or some Asian lagers (in moderation), as these beers are made with rice malt.
Check with your doctor before buying a beer based on the label or outside advice. Some countries have different standards for a product to be called gluten-free. Unless a beer is totally gluten-free, there is no assurance that it is safe for celiacs.
Now that my ass is covered, here is a list of low-gluten and gluten-free beers that can satisfy your beer craving and let you, once again, hold a cold beer stein.
• Bard’s Beer — Bard’s founders are celiacs and beer lovers who dedicated themselves to keeping the beer experience alive for those dedicated to a gluten-free lifestyle. This beer is crafted with sorghum, hops and yeast, and is one of the most popular gluten-free beers in Alberta.
• Green’s — This is the most exciting of the gluten-free breweries available in Alberta. Green’s creates more challenging styles, including Discovery ale — an English-style strong beer, the Endeavour — an Abbey-style dark ale, and the Quest Tripel Blonde — a high-alcohol gluten-free take on a Trappist style Belgian Tripel (8.5 per cent).
• Estrella Daura — This is a satisfying lager and one of the few gluten-free beers this writer has enjoyed. It’s an interesting bridge of styles, mimicking German wheat beers and European lagers in the same sip. Although Estrella Daura is considered gluten-free, it contains six parts per million of gluten.