A Handy Little Guide to Gluten Free Beer and Some great GF Beers that I’ve tried so far.

So beer… it was one of the things I thought I wouldn’t be able to enjoy again after my diagnosis in 2015. And back then, there were one or two ‘token’ gluten free brands available and I remember them being just average. But the world of gluten free beer has come on in leaps and bounds, especially in the last few years.

There are a few ways that breweries make their beer gluten free, this could be by removing it with an enzyme during the brewing process, brewing with only gluten free grains, or creating a brewing process that removes the gluten at each stage. I’m not exactly an expert in that field, but Coeliac UK have a little information about it here.

I know that some coeliacs react to gluten free beers, and I appreciate that everybody is different. We’re all doing our best to find out what our bodies like and don’t like.  Please remember that it’s always up to you if you feel comfortable with drinking them. Always do your research, and don’t be afraid to contact any brands to ask about gluten testing results if you’re unsure if something has triggered your symptoms.

As always, ‘gluten free’ is a legally protected term here in the UK and can only be used if a product contains less than 20ppm of gluten which is deemed ‘coeliac safe’.  To do this, breweries test their gluten free beer to ensure they can call it ‘gluten free’.

Since starting my gluten free journey,  I’ve been thankful enough to try quite a nice variation of gluten free beers, and here are just some of my favourites… 

 

From the Supermarkets:

 

Skinny Lager (ABV: 4%)  

First off, I’m going to start with Skinny lager. It’s a lovely one for anyone who just wants an alternative to beer that doesn’t offend. It’s fantastically refreshing, and has 89 calories, so is a good all rounder especially if you’re more of the health conscious gluten free person. Saying that, if you love a good beer battered fish or onion rings, this is perfect! Try a 1:1 ratio of beer to gf plain flour and enjoy! You can get this in the 4 leading supermarkets.

Peroni Gluten Free (ABV: 5.1%)

This is just a good all rounder, and I’ve found it to be the most common choice of gluten free beers in restaurants that have a gluten free drinks offering. So it can’t be that bad, huh?

This is brewed with barley, but gluten-removed using an enzyme just like most gluten free beers. You can get this in most supermarkets too.

The Free From Brewing Company Session IPA (4.8% ABV)

The Poole based brewery do two gluten free beers, this IPA, and a Pilsner, which I’m yet to try. At the moment it’s available at ALDI for a 4 pack of cans for £4, and they’re also available from Asda and on Ocado, but you can purchase these on their website.

It is citrusy with a hoppy aftertaste and is a nice little beer to have, I’d say it’s up there with the other mainstream brands when it comes to taste and drinkability. They’ve also been shortlisted for a free from food award, which says a lot about their efforts. Perfect for a get-together with your friends over yummy food.

Jubel Beer (ABV: 4%)

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This is a gluten free beer with a difference. These are available in Sainsbury’s and come in three different flavours – naturally infused with peach, elderflower and grapefruit. They say it has the ‘refreshment of a cider’ and you’ve got to admit, it doesn’t feel like I’m drinking beer at all with it and they’re right; it IS dead refreshing.  A perfect beer for everyone I would say. It is gluten-removed with the enzyme, and they test each brew to make sure it’s below 10ppm gluten. Vegan

Brewdog Vagabond IPA (4.5%)

*UPDATE* October 2020 – Currently it appears that this has been discontinued as it’s been removed from their website

You can get this one in lots of supermarkets, and bonus points if they’ve ever served it in a pub or bar near you.

Again, this one is very refreshing with citrus notes to it, but a well balanced bitterness, and it’s a great all rounder. It’s one of the ones that are treated with an enzyme and results mean <20ppm for gluten, which is the standard for us here in the UK. I just wish they did another gluten free one, because I get jealous of all the new ones they bring out for muggles.

Celia Organic Lager (ABV 4.5%)

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This one is another favourite I tried when I first was new to gluten free beer. It’s available in Tesco and I love it because it’s light and refreshing. It’s naturally carbonated and gluten removed, measuring up to less than 5ppm for gluten from Elisa testing. It has a delicate bitterness and more citrusy tone to it, but If you’re after something darker, they do a lovely dark lager too.

 

If the smaller breweries are more your thing…

Bellfield Brewery

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These guys are one of my favourite gluten free breweries. I visited their brewery and tap room back in February for a tour and I won’t shut up raving about them to my friends and family. Based in Edinburgh and ran by two coeliacs, they carefully use a brewing process which removes the gluten, without the need to treat it with an enzyme. They also test their beers for gluten twice to make sure it’s coeliac safe. 

My favourite is definitely their Session ale ABV 3.8% , I have to say. But they never put out a beer I don’t like!

You can buy these on their website or from Amazon. They have mini casks available too. 

Broughton Ales gluten free HOPO blonde lager (4.5% ABV)

Broughton brewery in Scotland has been around since the 70’s and uses traditional brewing methods, but still adapts to new changes. They brew this delightfully smooth gluten free version of their HOPO blonde lager, which is gluten removed and tests under 20ppm.

Handcrafted in the Bavarian style, this is such a smooth and well rounded lager, with a hint of citrus. It’s an easy one to drink and it’s personally one of my favourites.

You can buy these online, and all the support is welcome as the pandemic has really affected them, and it would be sad to lose them.

St Peters Brewery

St. Peter’s Brewery do two gluten free beers, their Suffolk Gold (ABV 4.9%)  and a Cream Stout. (ABV 6.5%)

I don’t particularly mind the Suffolk gold, it feels like a ‘proper’ beer you’d get in a pub somewhere, and it is very nice if you’re heavily into your beer.

Their Cream Stout is fantastic! I was a fan of Guinness before my coeliac days, and I’ve never been able to find a gluten free stout. But this one is just great, and if you’re looking for one I would point you in their direction. It’s got so much depth and flavour to it too. 

Brass Castle Brewery 

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These guys are another one of my favourite breweries and I’ve been making my way through a few diffeerent varieties of their beer. Their beers are also Vegan)

They put loads of effort into their packaging and artwork, so they’re perfect if you’re the more creative person. Their beer is another one which is gluten removed at the end, with an enzyme. And like most other breweries, they do test their can and keg beers and results come back under 10ppm. You can purchase these from their website. 

A few I’ve tried so far and really liked:

Very Bad Kitty Vanilla Imperial Porter (ABV: 9%)
It certainly packs a punch and makes a change from the lighter beers out there. Bonus points for ‘beer burps’ – gross, I know.

Yorkshire Lavender (ABV: 4%)
Don’t be put off by the lavender in it, it makes for an unusually delightful brew. Definitely one of those you’ll want to have to relax after a stressful day, and we all know times are a little bit more stressful these days. 

Hoptical Illusion IPA  (ABV: 4.3%)
IPA’s are always a great beer without fail, I would say. This has a grapefruit and citrus flavour and is overall a ‘belter’. 

 

If you’re avoiding alcohol….

Free Star Non-alcoholic beer.

These guys started up in 2017 and they’ve already won awards at the World Beer Awards. Not bad… I came across these guys on Amazon and discovered they are also labelled gluten free, as their gluten content is less than 10ppm. This is so refreshing and light, so one for the people who are a fan of the Skinny Lager. You can buy them online on their website and from Amazon, and they have lots of cool merchandise too!

FreeDamm by Estrella Damm. 

We know Estrella Damm do the Daurra Damm gluten free beer, but they not long ago released an alcohol-free alternative into the supermarkets. Not only is it alcohol free, but it’s also gluten free. You can get this in Morrisons, and ASDA. Again, like the Free Star it is super refreshing, but still has the bitterness of a lager.

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