As many gluten-sensitive consumers are already aware, some brewers seem to be fibbing a little about their gluten-free offerings.
The new FDA regulations disqualify foods from bearing a ‘gluten-free’ claim if they contain an ingredient that is a gluten-containing grain, such as wheat, rye, barley, or a cross-bred hybrid of those grains. This prohibition applies regardless of the gluten content of the finished product.
That last line is the rub. I have a few family members that seek out these low-gluten products and indeed they have noticed a wide-range of actual gluten-related effects from various “gluten-free” beers.
If you’ve never cared about gluten content, you might be wondering “Well what the heck do you use to make it then?”
A whole range of non-traditional grains and nuts are used in certified gluten-free beer. Harvester Brewing out of Portland, Ore., employs chestnuts, oats and sorghum. Canadian Brasseurs Sans Gluten brews its Glutenberg line with ingredients like millet, buckwheat, quinoa and chestnuts. These brands, among others (see third graph) are officially gluten-free.
It tastes a lot better than it sounds. I’ve had some pretty fantastic gluten-free(ish) beers before. But consumers should be aware of the process being used and the realities of the products they are buying.