Gluten Free Beer, Alcohol and Wine

Whether you like to kick back with a libation once in awhile, like to bake with alcohol as an ingredient or just want to be sure you have safe options for your gluten free friends, it’s good to know the facts about gluten free beer, gluten free alcohol, gluten free liquor, gluten free wine and gluten free ciders.

Gluten Free Beer | gfJules

Glutenberg is one brand of naturally gluten free beers now widely available.


Gluten free beer is relatively new in our world (cheers!), but many other alcohols and wines have been gluten free all along. Nonetheless, there remains a lot of confusion surrounding “gluten removed” versus naturally gluten free beers, and myths perpetuate about gluten in wine and gluten in alcohol.

Read on for the facts. (Also hear more on my podcast)

Wine is Gluten Free

Wine is Gluten Free

While only certain beers are gluten free, all wine is gluten free. Wine is made from grapes, which are very definitely free from gluten (gluten is a protein found within the grains of wheat, barley and rye).

Wheat paste may be used to seal the heads of oak barrels, but even if they do, it doesn’t touch the wine, and even if it did, any transfer of gluten to the wine would be minuscule (far less than the <20 parts per million {ppm} mandated by the FDA to label for gluten free). See this article on wine testing from Gluten Free Watchdog for more. For more specifics, check this article on

Gluten is also not commonly used in fining, or clarifying wine. Unfortunately for vegans, fining agents are typically egg whites or isinglass from fish, but neither contain gluten.

IF a winemaker uses gluten to fine their wine, it is skimmed off with the particles that cling to it and make wine cloudy. Even if there was some gluten left after that process (again, highly unlikely), it would be so small as to be negligible in your glass or bottle of wine. And if there was any gluten left after these processes, your bottle of wine would contain far less than the FDA’s mandated 20ppm gluten level.

If you’d like to hear more details, have a listen to the podcast of my radio show, The Gluten Free Voice, where gluten in wine was the topic of conversation that episode.

junmai sake |gfJules

Another type of wine — “rice wine” or sake — is also gluten free, but isn’t actually wine at all. It’s a closer cousin to beer because it is created by converting starch to sugar and fermenting it into alcohol. Here, the starch is rice (a gluten free starch) and the final product is called Sake.

Sake may be created more cheaply by adding alcohol, or it may be produced using traditional methods of brewing with simple rice, water and koji (rice mold). The latter method produces Junmai sake which will be denoted on the label. (see photo)

Sake may be enjoyed warm (not hot) or cold and pairs nicely with lots of different foods.

Some sakes are drier and some are sweeter; on the sake label, you should be able to identify the Sake Meter Value (SMV) number from -15 to +15. The higher the number, the drier the sake. Taste a few with different foods and see which you prefer, then you can always remember your preferred SMV. Check SakeSocial for more information on sake characteristics.

(Many thanks to Marc Smookler, founder and CEO of for sharing the information on sake production.)


Distilled Alcohol Is Gluten Free

Is there gluten free alcohol? Yes! Liquors like rum (made from sugar cane), tequila (made from the agave plant) and brandy (distilled wine) are not made with gluten, so they are safe for celiacs and others with gluten sensitivity.

Distilled grain alcohols including vodka, bourbon, whiskey, scotch, brandy, and gin ARE gluten free even though they are made with gluten containing grains. The distillation process actually removes the gluten from the end product, so unless the manufacturer adds gluten as a flavoring AFTER distillation, those liquors are indeed gluten free. (The same is true for all vinegars except malt vinegar, by the way.)

Gluten Free Captain Morgan gfJules

Check with the manufacturer directly if you are concerned that gluten in flavoring may be added after distillation; many, like Frangelico, are proactively declaring on their websites that their formulas are gluten free.

Distilled alcohol choices made only from gluten free grains like corn or potato also exist, for those with wheat or barley allergy or those who wish to drink naturally gluten free liquor.

Brands to look for include Tito’s® Handmade Vodka (made from corn; certified Gluten-Free); Stoli® Gluten Free Vodka (distilled from corn and buckwheat); Devotion® Vodka (made from corn; sugar free; non-GMO; certified Gluten-Free); Deep Eddy Vodka (corn); and Texas Vodka™ Enchanted Rock Vodka (corn).

There remains a lot of confusion surrounding "gluten removed" versus naturally gluten free beers, and myths perpetuate about gluten in wine. Read on for the facts.

Hard Ciders and Malt Beverages

Hard ciders are almost always gluten free, unless the manufacturer has added malt (made from barley). 

ace gluten free ciders

Ace Ciders are some of my favorite certified gluten free ciders — just look at the range of flavor options (there are even more available, including delicious seasonal flavors like pumpkin).

Ace California Cider Company, opened in 1993, is the first family owned cider in the US. It’s based in Sonoma, California and truly has some of the most unique and flavorful gluten free cider options I’ve found. I also love that they have bottles and cans!

hard ciders | gfJules

Unlike true ciders which are gluten free, malted beverages and wine coolers are NOT gluten free. Malt is derived from barley which contains gluten, and these drinks are not distilled, so the gluten remains in the bottle.

Pictured above: Bold Rock, Angry Orchard ARE gluten-free; Henry’s Hard Soda (malt) and Wild Leaf Hard Tea are NOT gluten free. So you can see why it can be tricky to shop for gluten free options on co-mingled shelves! Always read labels before buying — don’t rely on stores to accurately shelve gluten-free items apart from non-gluten free options.

gluten free cider |gfJules

Jack’s Hard Cider IS gluten free; as are the seltzers pictured here. Charm City Mead is another gluten free option.


Meads like Charm City Mead on the top shelf above, ARE gluten free. Mead is made from fermented fruits and honey, no grain.

Some brands of malted beverages are now claiming to be gluten-removed. Please use caution in choosing to try these types of beverages. They are made with gluten but claim to be processed to remove or break apart the gluten molecules. These manufacturers are not allowed to label themselves as gluten-free, but instead must say something like “crafted to remove gluten.” Experts do NOT consider enzyme-treated beers and ciders safe for celiacs.

This is a quote from Mike’s Hard Lemonade‘s FAQ page: “[W]e encourage you to consult with your doctor if you have extreme sensitivities since our product may contain gluten traces. mike’s [sic] is fermented from grains that contain gluten and crafted to remove gluten. The gluten content cannot be verified and this product may contain gluten.”spiked seltzer

Also check drink mixers (like Bloody Mary and margarita mixes) since they sometimes contain (barley) malt or other hydrolyzed wheat proteins as fillers.

Seltzers & Bubbles with a Kick

One of the newest libations on the gluten free market is seltzer water with a kick. These bubbly beverages are so refreshing!

Made from purified water and infused with natural fresh fruit flavors, these light alternatives to beer and wine contain 6% alcohol derived from fermentation of citrus and sugar. They are wonderful on their own to cool down on a hot summer day, or to use as mixers in any kind of libation. These beverages also come in bottles or cans.

For more information and to find where they are sold, go to SpikedSeltzer.

whiteclaw Seltzer

Another new entrant into this category is White Claw Hard Seltzer. This low calorie libation has no artificial ingredients; the alcohol comes from fermented cane sugar.

With 5% ABV and 110 calories, these three White Claw Hard Seltzer flavors are currently available in cans: Natural Lime; Black Cherry; and Ruby Grapefruit.

I find these to be sweeter than the SpikedSeltzer competition. That’s not a bad or a good thing: if you like sweet, you’ll love these; choose SpikedSeltzer if you prefer a more subtle flavor.

cape line | gfJules

A just-released gluten free bubbly option from MillerCoors is Cape Line Sparkling Cocktails. Their first flavors are Blackberry Mojito, Margarita and Hard Strawberry Lemonade.

Unlike typical hard lemonades (see above), these 6-ingredient libations are gluten free! They’re even certified gluten-free by the GFCO (kudos). 

Another nice feature about Cape Line? Only 120-calories. They’re slightly sweet and bubbly and are 4.5 abv. Enjoy them cold from the can or in your favorite margarita glass with ice. Cheers!

Another brand to look for is Truly Hard Seltzer in 4 berry flavors.


All About Gluten Free Beers

Beer used to never be gluten free. Luckily, many craft brewers and even big breweries like Anheuser-Busch (Redbridge) are now offering special gluten free beer. Most are brewed from alternative grains like sorghum and millet, so are considered naturally gluten free beers.

There is another category of beer that is called “gluten-removed” or “gluten-reduced;” these beers are made from barley in the traditional brew-making style, and are not allowed to be labeled as “gluten-free” in the U.S., although local state laws may differ when the beers are not crossing state lines.

Experts caution against celiacs and those with gluten sensitivity drinking these beers, since it’s unclear whether they are truly gluten free enough to be safe.

One of my articles for Gluten Free & More Magazine covered all the latest entrants to the gluten-free beer market, and another on the issue of “de-glutenized” or gluten-reduced beers.

I mention this only because there is so much misinformation out there, particularly on the issue of the safety of “gluten-reduced” beers for celiacs, that I want to emphasize that the information in this article is highly researched. Please feel free to share with others who may be confused about which beers are indeed gluten-free. 

which of these "gluten-free" beers is NOT like the other?

which of these “gluten-free” beers is NOT like the other?


Scroll down to the “Gluten Removed Beers” section to read more about how these beers are treated to reduce gluten and the controversy over whether they are actually safe for celiacs.

Also, check out this article on the yeasts used to brew beers, and some questions you may want to ask the brewers of gluten free beers and ciders before you try them.


A note: Some of these gluten free beers are hard to find, others rather pricey, so you may not want to use them in my fish and chips recipe, but you’ll probably want to drink one with the fish and chips recipe!  Use a more ubiquitous, cheaper beer like Redbridge for the batter, if you like, and wash it down with your new favorite naturally gluten-free ale, pilsner or lager!

Don’t be afraid to ask your local stores to carry any of these special brews – many are distributed through national distributors, so they should be able to order for you. 

For a super-comprehensive list of gluten free beers from around the world, you must check out this list from The Brewing Network! I sure would love to taste my way around the world with that list!

Naturally Gluten Free Beers

So many new options are available to those of us eating and drinking gluten-free, and that’s something to celebrate!

Gluten Free Beers like Green's Beers

greens lager pourPrefer ales? Maybe a true lager? Green’s Beers are made in the true Belgian style and simply can’t be beat. Green’s has a varied  line of gluten free beers available in Europe and luckily has decided to share a few with us in the U.S.!

Blonde, Amber and Dubbel Dark Ales plus their Dry-Hopped Lager — any and all are perfect for a hot day. I love baking with the Dark; their Blonde and Amber are wonderful, full-bodied and easy drinking ales, and their lager is a refreshing, light beer boasting a Pinot Grigio-like grapefruit note, making it quite a unique brew.

Redbridge, Bard’s Tale and New Grist round out the easy drinking and geographically accessible gluten-free beers to consider.

Of these, I particularly enjoy New Grist, as you can see from the photo below.


holidaily_canHolidaily Brewing Company – Using locally sourced malted, naturally gluten free grains, and brewing in Colorado’s only dedicated gluten-free brewing facility, Holidaily raises the bar on truly gluten free beer.

This woman-owned company began as a way to bring great GF brews to those, like its founder Karen Hertz, must live an entirely gluten free lifestyle. Offering a selection of blondes, IPAs and stouts, there’s something for every beer lover with Holidaily.



Ghostfish BrewingGhostfish Brewing is one of the new naturally gluten free breweries I’m most enthusiastic about.

Their excitement over their gluten free offerings is infectious, and the blends they’ve created are so different from others I’ve tried.

Their Witbier (Belgian White Ale) is truly one of the best beers I’ve ever had.  In fact, it just won a Gold Medal in the Gluten Free Beer category at the 2017 Best of Craft Beer Awards.

Stout and several pale ale varieties are others in their collection. Brewed in Seattle in a dedicated gluten-free facility. Their Safeway Amber Lager earned a Silver Medal in the Best of Craft Beer Awards, as well.

The Ghostfish homepage declares: “BARLEY HAS RULED THE BREWING WORLD LONG ENOUGH!” I’d have to agree! Now, where can I get this as a bumper sticker?


Ground Breaker is constantly changing its lineup, by season or ingredient. It’s always an adventure to taste test their latest brews.

groundbreaker photo

A tour with one of the founders of the Groundbreaker Brewery in Portland.

Another line of naturally gluten-free beers is Groundbreaker Brewing (formerly Harvester Brewing). Their growing lineup of certified gluten-free beers includes Ales, a Dubbel and several unique squash and other flavored beers. Also a “Red” and a “Dark,” as well as seasonal brews like “Raspberry” (they seasonally produce fun flavors like “Pumpkin Beer”). Some of their beers also use other unique ingredients that set them apart in this market.

Groundbreaker claims to be America’s first dedicated gluten-free brewery — which is pretty cool. They have a pouring room/Gastropub and restaurant if you ever find yourself thirsty in Portland — I highly recommend it! Maybe one of the founders will give you a tour, too!

glutenberg gluten freeGlutenberg beers offer several award-winning choices in gluten free ales … and they come in a can!

100% gluten free, made with ingredients like chestnuts, buckwheat and millet, they are a refreshingly different kind of beer that some beer drinkers swear is the best.

Hambleton Ales – hailing from Great Britain, this ale was actually one of the first gluten-free beers I ever tasted! They also have a pale lager and the brewery claims to be “the best selling British brewed gluten free beers in the world!” Hmm – worth a taste, I’d say!

St. Peter’s was also “Commended” at the 2010 “Free From Food Awards,” so if you can get your hands on one, it’s worth tasting a winner! It boasts a “pilsner-style lager finish” which I found to taste a bit like caramel, but quite dry and light. And hey, the famous St. Peter’s oval bottle is worth buying on its own!

New York’s Ramapo Valley Brewery has a dedicated facility for their special gluten-free Honey beer, which is also kosher for Passover! This honey-hop wine is on the sweet side, but is refreshingly different, and may just suit your palate.

Fiesta Latina agave beerHere’s something totally different: Agave Beer. Fiesta Latina® is the first and as of now, only beer maker brewing a fermented mix of agave, hops and yeast to create a smooth and refreshing beer with a slight finish of wine cooler (remember those?). Nice for a hot summer afternoon.

new-planet-4-packNew Planet gluten-free beers out of Colorado are a pretty exciting addition to the spectrum. Their light-body ales (Tread Lightly Ale, Off the Grid and 3R Raspberry Ales) are made from fermented sorghum and corn, hops and yeast have a lot of folks clamoring to get ahold of them!

I was lucky enough to get a taste when I was last in Denver – look for them to move into even more markets soon! (In my January, 2012 Gluten Free Voice radio interview (yes, I’ve been reporting on gluten free beer for a LONG time!), General Manager and owner Pedro Gonzalez said that they are in distribution in 29 states; since then, they’ve greatly expanded so you should be able to find these great beers near you!) 

NEWS NOTE: New Planet has introduced two new “gluten reduced” beers to its line-up, so use caution in selecting beers from this brewer to be sure you are choosing gluten-free choices if you have a medical need to live gluten free.

Coors Peak – 2015 saw the release of MillerCoors’ first gluten-free beer offering. Steering clear of sorghum, Coors instead replaced barley with brown rice, malted brown rice and protein from peas. A light, easy drinking pizza and beer kind of beer, it will remind you of a true American beer. No funky aftertaste; it is difficult to tell it is gluten-free in any way. In 2016, Peak introduced an easy-drinking Golden Lager as well.

**Unfortunately, as of fall 2016, Coors is no longer producing Coors Peak. To learn more, listen to the free podcast with Coors Peak on my radio show, the Gluten Free Voice.

Auroch's Brewing Company

Other regional beers are worth looking for:

Auroch’s Brewing Company is one of my personal favorites. Brewed out of the Pittsburgh area, but its fans (and the demand) are growing, so expect a wider distribution soon!

Bierly Brewing Company out of Oregon makes IPA, Dubbel, Pilsner and Porter varieties, as well as seasonal flavors. Super delish and of course, naturally gluten free. Made from gluten free grains like sorghum, millet and rice.

bierly gluten free beer

What are your favorite local Gluten -Free brews?

omission beerGluten-Reduced Beers

In Europe, these types of beers are regarded as “gluten-free,” but in the US, they are referred to as “gluten-reduced,” and by law, they cannot be called “gluten-free” because they are made with gluten-containing barley. Current testing methods are not able to accurately detect hydrolyzed and fermented gluten proteins, so many are cautious about trying these beers, and experts do not recommend this category of beverages for those with celiac disease or severe gluten sensitivity.

While the manufacturers of these beers claim that they test to below 20ppm gluten, no scientifically validated testing yet exists which can adequately test beverages like fermented beers for gluten, so relying on ineffective testing for gluten results is somewhat disingenuous: “ELISA as it stands cannot measure the gluten [in beer]. Unless they access an alternate technology they can’t know,” says Michelle Colgrave, a researcher with the government-run Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia.

In fact, the FDA’s FALCPA (Food Allergy Labeling Consumer Protection Act) Guidance documents specifically note that

“FDA is aware that sandwich ELISA methods [currently available testing] do not adequately detect gluten in fermented and hydrolyzed foods. Because scientifically valid methods currently are lacking that can do so, we intend to issue a proposed rule on this issue.”

In fact, the 2017 Australian report found that “[a]cross the range of commercial beers that have been produced using an enzyme, the application of the enzyme appeared to be inconsistent. There were some beers that had very low levels of gluten, barely detectable, while others had as much as an untreated beer,” Colgrave says.  In their paper published in  the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, study authors found gluten in a dozen beers labelled gluten-reduced with a this new test.

More evidence that these gluten-reduced beers are not safe for celiacs came with the 2017 University of Chicago Study conducted in conjunction with the Gluten Intolerance Group which yielded results that show that some celiacs do in fact react to gluten-reduced beers.

“The medical and scientific community has not validated or accepted that these low-gluten or gluten-removed beers are safe because available gluten testing methods have not been sufficiently accurate with fermented and hydrolyzed products,” said Cynthia Kupper, CEO of GIG. “That is why we conducted this first-of-its-kind study, because even if one person with celiac reacts to gluten-removed beers, it shows it would not be appropriate to certify this product category according to our standards.”

To hear the podcast interview with two authors of the study, Cynthia Kupper, CEO of the Gluten Intolerance Group and a registered dietitian diagnosed with celiac disease, and Laura Allred, Ph.D. and GIG’s Regulatory and Standards Manager, click here for free podcast.

Furthermore, tests using a new test called liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) — scientists believe it is a more accurate way to measure gluten in fermented beers — showed that even though all the tested beers “had been rated by their makers to have gluten levels below 20 mg/kg, according to ELISA”, the new test “found detectable gluten fragments in every sample using LC-MS, and most had much higher levels of gluten than ELISA detected.”

This class of beer is regulated in the US by the TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau), not the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), because they are “true beers” made from barley. Because scientists are not sure that the testing is accurate for these products,  nowhere on the label is “gluten-free” allowed to be advertised, but you may find them erroneously shelved in the gluten free beer section or on a gluten free beer menu. Take this opportunity to educate your bartender or local beer vendor on the differences.

If you are confused about which beers are naturally gluten-free and which are gluten-reduced, choose only beers with a nutrition label, since that indicates it is regulated by the FDA and therefore, does not contain barley. (For more information listen to the podcast interview with GFCO regarding their study).

Like the malted beverages described above, these manufacturers are instead only permitted to make certain statements about the fact that their beer is processed/treated/crafted to remove gluten, along with certain qualifying statements indicating that the gluten content is uncertain. 

Here’s an example of one such “de-glutenized” or “gluten-removed” beer which is not adhering to the regulations. They clearly assert that their beer has no gluten (less than 5 ppm) because it was treated with enzymes. However, since we know the ELISA test they are using doesn’t accurately detect remaining gluten, any such assertion is unqualified.

duck-foot-beer -- not gluten free

2017 alert: GlutenDude reported on a gluten-reduced beer company (Hepworth) which announced a recall of a batch that had “too much gluten”.

Estrella Damm’s Daura  A straw-colored, gluten-reduced Eurolager from Spain, is made with barley and hops.

Not recommended for those with celiac disease or a medical condition requiring a gluten free diet.

Another gluten-reduced beer is Omission Beer out of Oregon. It’s made from traditional beer ingredients. Currently offering lager and American Pale Ale. (Learn more on my Gluten Free Voice Radio Show podcast).

Like Estrella Damm Daura beer, Omission is a “de-glutenized beer” made with low protein barley. Omission has published details of its proprietary process to further explain how they believe the barley (gluten) protein is removed in their brew. They also offer a way to check the gluten content of every beer by entering the date code stamped on the bottle to view that batch’s R5 competitive ELISA test results (again, experts do not believe that this testing is accurate on fermented beverages).

Not recommended for those with celiac disease or a medical condition requiring a gluten free diet.brunehaut gluten reduced beer

Brunehaut is another gluten reduced beer, made in the style of a true Belgian brew. These Belgian ales (Blond and Amber) hail from Brunehaut brewery in Belgium, established in 1890.

Not recommended for those with celiac disease or a medical condition requiring a gluten free diet.

Baking With Gluten Free Beer

Whether or not drinking beer excites you, you should be thrilled that gluten-free beers are finally available for us to use as cooking ingredients! That’s right – beer bread, tempura, beer cake, and the always popular, beer-battered fish and chips! What would these be without beer? Not the same, I assure you!

Explore my recipe site for beer bread, tempura, beer cake, salted caramel cupcakes, soft pretzels made with beer, and hamburger beer bread buns recipes, or check out my newest book, Free for All Cooking!

fox may 2015 favorite cake

The dark chocolate beer cake I made for Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s birthday was made with Green’s Dark beer.


Also be sure to listen to my free podcast with Coors Peak on my radio show, the Gluten Free Voice. As well as episodes including interviews of representatives from Estrella Damm brewery in Spain (brewers of “de-glutenized” barley beer Daura), Omission (“de-glutenized” beer), and Colorado’s New Planet beer and Merchant du Vin importers of Green’s Gluten-Free beers from Belgium. We talk about testing of gluten levels, brewing methods and ingredients for gluten-free beers, demand, distribution and labeling, plus some other interesting beer facts! Download and listen to the podcasts anytime!

Get your hands on a bottle or two and find your own favorites for drinking or for recipes.



Safe Gluten Free Beer, Liquor and other libations (with brands) - the definitive list compiled by an expert in gluten-free living


Gluten-Free Beer Alcohol and Wine

Gluten Free Beer