GLUTEN FREE ALCOHOL BEVERAGES: WHICH ONES ARE SAFE ?
There are many gluten free alcohol beverages, including gluten free beer, that adults are able to choose if they are gluten intolerant or have celiac disease. Many of the alcohols choices are gluten free because of the distilling process that is used to make alcohol. During this process, gluten is removed from the alcohol therefore allowing the beverage to be gluten free.
Most dietary guidelines for gluten free alcohol have been revised to reflect the scientific findings. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) "Manual of Clinical Dietetics" 6th edition, the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG), and Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF) all list distilled grain spirits and vinegars as safe for people with celiac disease.
Watch the below video to listen to an excellent explanation of how the distillation process leaves "gluten proteins behind! Cheryl Harris, is a Registered Dietitian and gluten-free nutrition expert. Watch how she describes how the distilling process removes the gluten from both vinegar and grain alcohols. Her explanation supports the above findings by the ADA and the other celiac foundations.
Some of the most common gluten free alcohols are rum, gin, whiskey, vodka (made from potatoes or corn), tequila and nearly all wines.
However, there needs to be caution with some of the alcohol beverages that have flavor added. Some of the ingredients may contain gluten so reading the labels or contacting the manufacturer is highly recommended.
Below is a list of some of the most popular gluten free alcohols. These are just a few but there are many more. These are the most popular brands.
Vodka – Smirnoff (non flavored – need to verify flavored Smirnoff), Absolut Vodka, Zodiac, Cold River. Most vodka is made from potato or corn. Grain vodkas are also ok since they are distilled.
Tequila – Jose Cuervo, Sauza, Centinela. Real tequila is made from a plant called Blue Agave and is part of the Lilly family of plants.
Rum – Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, Barcardi, Malibu – Most rums are made from sugar cane. Captain Morgan indicated that the spiced rum contains no gluten ingredients.
Whiskey – Scotch whiskey, Chivas, Jack Daniels – Most whisky’s are gluten free because of the distilling process.
Cognac - Cognac De Beaulieu – Cognac is made from fermented white grapes.
Wine and Champagnes – Kendall Jackson, Berringer, Rodney Strong, Five Oaks. Nearly all wines or champagnes are gluten free since they are made from grapes. However, wine coolers may not be gluten free since they contain barley malt.
Gluten Free Beer Most beers are made from barley, wheat or rye so therefore contain gluten. However, there is a growing list of gluten free beer that is now available to celiac patients.
Gluten free beer uses two common substitute grain plants. One of those is called Sorghum and the other is Buckwheat.
What is Sorghum? Sorghum is a species of grass and its seeds can be harvested as grain to make beer. Sorghum has recently appeared in food products in the US, because of use in gluten-free food products. Sorghum is an excellent substitute for wheat for those who cannot tolerate gluten. Sorghum is used to make both leavened and unleavened breads.
What is Buckwheat? The buckwheat plant is entirely different from other grains and is not a grass. It is a summer annual with rather coarse, branched stems and large, broadly arrow-shaped leaves. Seeds from the buckwheat plant can be milled to make flour or the the plant itself can be malted to make gluten free beer.
Some of the most popular gluten free beers are listed below:
Redbridge – A sorghum gluten free beer made by Anheuser Busch. I have actually tried this beer and it is very good. It is very similar to a Sam Adams beer. I highly reommend it. Unfortunately I paid $9 for a six pack. Ouch!
Bard's Tale – The Original Sorghum Malt Beer, sometimes known as Dragon’s Gold Lager, is an American Lager with low bitterness and a floral aroma, containing sorghum, yeast, hops, and water. Bard’s Tale gluten free beer was created by two individuals that have celiac disease.
New Grist - New Grist gluten free beer is brewed from sorghum, hops, water, rice and gluten-free yeast grown on molasses. These ingredients are carefully combined to form a crisp and refreshing "session ale" sure to be popular among those with Celiac Disease, but really brewed for anyone with an appreciation for great tasting, handmade beer.
Rampo Valley Honey Beer - Rampo Valley gluten free beer is a micro brewing company out of New York. The main fermentable is amber honey. Molasses is used for flavor, nutrients and color. Bright golden in color, the taste naturally has notes of honey and hop. Noble hops add a touch of bitterness to balance the honey sweetness. This beer is Kosher certified for Passover.
New Planet Tread Lightly Ale - A great balanced gluten free beer made from fermented sorghum and corn, hops and yeast. It is a bright beer with light taste and body and without the after taste of other sorghum-based beers.
When deciding on a gluten free alcohol choice be careful about beverages that are labeled“low-gluten” specifically in some of the beers. Be careful about beer companies stating that their beer is low in gluten and has essentially undetectable amounts of gluten. There is no assurance that low gluten beer is completely safe for celiac patients!