Gluten or Wheat free beer – coeliac disease or wheat allergy?

If you’re a coeliac the recent increase in the popularity of gluten free foods and beer is good news. But if you are wheat intolerant or allergic to wheat you need to be very careful of products containing wheat. CODEX wheat is still wheat but it’s had the gluten removed so if wheat is your problem these foods could still make you ill or cause symptoms.
Gluten Beer Tasting 2013
A couple of examples are Juvela who make pasta and pizza bases which have non gluten containing wheat in them and also Fria who make delicious bread and a particularly special chocolate brownie cake. Both have wheat as an ingredient so do check the labels carefully if you have a problem with the wheat and not necessarily the gluten.

It can be very easy to just read the ‘gluten free’ label and assume it’s OK.

Which leads me nicely onto the subject for today’s blog. Gluten free beer. Having a wheat intolerance I can tolerate the odd half of normal beer but this obviously means I really miss my most favourite of tipples. Half a pint is never enough…

My experience with gluten free beer has been mixed. I enjoy them all and had a wonderful time at the FreeFrom Food Awards judging the gluten free beer section, but too much of any beer still seemed to be causing me wheaty symptoms. I won’t go into details…

Which when you consider that I’m not a coeliac but instead have problems digesting wheat it’s not surprising. Gluten free beer still contains wheat in some cases so it’s the same as those tricky gluten free pastas etc. which can contain wheat where you least expect it.

Wheat Free Beers

For all those wheat intolerant beer lovers there is still hope. You can still enjoy the feel of froth cooling your top lip. Or the smooth sliding bitter taste of a clear lively real ale. I found a very interesting fact sheet on the CAMRA website which explains beer, which is of course usually made with wheat, but some very nice beer available in supmermarkets and pubs is made naturally wheat free.

Quite a few real ales do not have any wheat in their ingredients. Beers identified as wheat beers will have a large quantity of wheat (malted and unmalted) in their ingredients – up to 50% or even more. Geuezes and lambic beers also have a considerable proportion of wheat in their make up.

But even beers which would not normally be considered as being wheat beers sometimes have a small proportion of wheat in the original grist to help such things as head retention. There may be only 5% or less but this is sometimes enough to give an allergic reaction to someone who is intolerant or alergic to wheat.

However since beer doesn’t have to have its ingredients listed it may be difficult to identify those beers that are wheat free.

Beer with NO WHEAT!

These beers might not be suitable for coeliacs… I’m not sure whether no wheat means also gluten free, but…look out for:

  • Green’s lager dry hopped is naturally gluten AND wheat free!
  • Woodforde’s regular beers have no wheat – never tried these but I’m now looking forward to a pint!
  • Adnams beers use no wheat – One of my favourites and often available bottled in supermarkets and on tap in some pubs. Praise the beer Gods.
  • Timothy Taylor’s Landlord is wheat free – probably one of the best beers I’ve ever had.

Which explains why sometimes I risk it and have a few pints and am fine. (I love Adnams and choose it if it’s on tap) and why other times I get ill. It’s always confused me.

I’m pondering why it has taken me so long to discover this very useful information and why I assumed gluten free beer would be better for me. Often it’s not. But there is always hope, and when the only beer you can safely drink is the three above, especially Timothy Taylor’s Landlord the world is a brighter place.

So now to my next task, to create an extensive list of wheat free beers. Watch this space. My life is now complete. Think I might need to visit the local public house this evening. Where’s the nearest one with Adnams?

Mine’s a pint!

Special thanks to CAMRA for this fantastic information.

Buy wheat free beer


Buy Gluten Free beer

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About Ruth

Ruth works freelance as a copywriter and writes the What Allergy blog to share information with people who have allergies, eczema, asthma and food intolerances. http://www.whatallergy.com was voted in the top 5 allergy blogs and Ruth also judges regularly for the FreeFrom Food Awards and FreeFrom Skincare Awards. She also won the Foods You Can People's choice Best FreeFrom blogger award 2014.

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