Departed Soles brewery / Photo by Matthew D. Potenski
Gluten has long been present in beer because grains like barley, wheat and rye are necessary ingredients. As a result, those with gluten sensitivities, celiac disease or dietary concerns tend to drink cider, mead, wine, hard seltzer or certain cocktails instead of beer.
Fortunately, gluten-free or gluten-reduced beers are gaining momentum as brewers have worked to improve processes that remove gluten proteins without sacrificing flavor. Some breweries use an enzyme called Clarex that strips gluten from a beer, while others embrace alternative grains that don’t have the protein at all.
There are U.S. breweries with dedicated gluten-free or -reduced portfolios, and others that solely make beers without gluten. There’s even a small guild of these breweries working to support and advance gluten-free breweries across the globe.
“I think one of the common misconceptions about beer in general is that it all tastes the same,” says Anne Becerra, Certified Cicerone and beverage director of Treadwell Park in New York City. And so, she says, some people with celiac or gluten intolerance write off beer altogether.
“But what I’m enjoying are the breweries that are making several different styles of gluten-free beers with unique flavor profiles, as well as a range of abv [alcohol by volume], carbonation levels and more,” says Becerra.
Usually packaged in bottles or cans, these beers can also be poured on draft, so long as bars commit to keeping a draft line gluten-free to avoid contamination from previous, glutinous beers.
Wine Enthusiast asked beer experts from around the country to weigh in on exemplary gluten-free or gluten-reduced offerings that are worthy of your glass.
Holidaily Brewing Company
Jonathan Shikes, a beer reporter for Denver Westword, believes Colorado’s Holidaily Brewing Company is among the largest dedicated gluten-free craft breweries in the country.
“They have hired pro brewers to create their beers, and the styles range far beyond what you can find in normal gluten-free settings, including a gose, an Oktoberfest and an imperial pastry stout,” he says.
Many of Holidaily’s beers approximate the taste of standard beers, he adds, and they have developed a real following and a community. The company started off “having one dedicated [draft] line in a couple of different Colorado breweries,” says Shikes. “That really helped them become part of the everyday conversation in Colorado.”
Ipswich Ale Brewery
Formerly known as Celia Saison, this brewery’s G Free Saison is a go-to for Em Sauter, the founder of Pints & Panels, an online beer education platform, and a 2016 Wine Enthusiast 40 Under 40 Tastemaker.
“Saisons can be so many different grains, so it’s a good space for a gluten-free option,” says Sauter.