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Is Beer Gluten-Free and Safe for People with Celiac Disease?

This statement is being distributed by Sapporo Breweries:
"A representative from Sapporo Breweries, Ltd./Tokyo has advised that Sapporo beer does contain barley. However, after the barley is boiled, the gluten is filtered out along with the barley skins. The representative assured me that although the barley itself does contain gluten, their brewing process effectively removes all the gluten from their beer."

The following comments were written by Donald D. Kasarda who is a research chemist in the Crop Improvement and Utilization Research Unit of the United States Department of Agriculture. If you have any questions or comments regarding the piece, you can address them to Don at: kasarda@pw.usda.gov.

The reason that this doesnt make sense for celiac patients has to do with the digestion of the barley hordeins, the proteins that are similar to wheat gliadins in barley. During the malting and fermentation processes, the barley hordeins are broken down into smaller pieces called peptides. It is true that no intact hordein proteins can generally be found in beer. However, the smaller pieces of these proteins resulting from enzymatic digestion are often quite water soluble so that they remain in the beer throughout the complete processing to the final product. (Remember that beer is not a distilled product as are whiskey or vodka. Filtration of the beer will not remove these small water-soluble hordein polypeptides.) A barley hordein might have a polypeptide chain including 300 amino acids in its sequence, yet it is reasonably well established by experiments that polypeptides with as few as 13 amino acid residues in the chain can still retain toxicity for celiac patients. These small pieces of the original proteins can (and do) have very different properties from the original larger proteins. In the strict sense, Sapporo is correct that there are no more intact hordeins in their beer. What they cannot claim is that there are no hordein peptides in the beer that might harm celiac patients.

There is some evidence from analytical methods involving antibodies prepared to gliadins that there are peptides in beer that react with these antibodies. It is not proved beyond any doubt that the peptides in beer are actually toxic to celiac patients, but it is quite possible that the peptides remaining in any barley-based or wheat-based beer, Sapporo included, are harmful to celiac patients. The amount of harmful peptides, if they are present, is likely to be small, but there is no satisfactory analytical data, in my opinion, that defines the amount exactly. So it could be in a range that would be harmful to a celiac patient drinking beer on a regular basis. My guess is, and I emphasize that I cant back this up with scientific results, that a glass of beer once every few months would not do lasting harm to the average celiac patient. By average celiac patient, I mean those who have no obvious allergic character to their disease and do not notice any immediate reaction when they ingest gluten. 

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31 Responses:

 
louise
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said this on
22 May 2008 5:17:48 AM PST
It seems to me that there is some very jumbled thinking when it comes to whether or not celiacs 'react' to substances. One of the first things doctors in the UK tell you is that a lack of obvious reaction does not equate necessarily with a lack of internal damage. Indeed many celiacs are diagnosed from biopsy with ruined guts who have never had any obvious symptoms of intestinal irritation. Yet despite knowing that external symptoms are not a good indicator of the damage which can be done by this 'silent disease' we are continually told in the UK and in the States it would appear that if such things as oats and beer don't appear to make you sick then small amounts probably won't hurt you. It's not just unscientific - it's dangerous.

 
wendy
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said this on
05 Nov 2008 7:38:59 PM PST
An excellent discussion except in the conclusion- because celiac disease dramatically increases the risk of developing lymphoma, and that risk is dose-related, any chance of exposure to gluten/gliadins increases the risk of lymphoma. Not worth a beer a month...

 
Zach
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said this on
17 May 2012 11:01:37 AM PST
It is totally worth it to some people. Beer is the only joy I have in my life. I have been a homebrewer for 17 years and am getting ready to start my own commercial brewery. I was diagnosed with celiac disease this week. Guess what? Beer is totally worth the risk to many people, including myself. I would rather die 15 years earlier and enjoy my beer on a daily basis than give it up.

 
janie diaz
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said this on
01 Aug 2013 11:57:03 PM PST
Good for you, Zach. I have to steer clear of gluten because of my psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, so my reaction to gluten is primarily based on me trying to keep all inflammation as low as possible and keep my weight in check. Since kicking gluten to the curb, I have lost 25 pounds, but I do LOVE beer, and gluten-free beer to me is more a marketing and branding effort than producing a quality beverage. I'd love to connect with you. Please message me about your beer company! janie at prado-media dot com.

All my best to everyone here. It's a big deal, most "non-sick" people don't get that. I hurt all the time, and I have solved a lot of my issues by connecting with others who fight the good fight like you all.

Cheers!

Janie

 
kevin
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said this on
07 Jul 2014 2:56:22 AM PST
Hi janie. My name is Kevin and I also have psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis my doctor put me on meds. [enbrel- needle once a week, sulfasalazine-2 tablets twice a day, and celebrex when needed]. the doctor did not say anything about gluten--does it help? I would like your input.

 
jeannie
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said this on
11 Jun 2009 1:47:12 AM PST
I'm a fan of beer especially with sushi or Mexican food and have been round and round with information regarding whether it is effectively gluten free. What I have personally observed is that pale, light beers do not cause any obvious physical reaction for me, but even an amber kind of lager will, for me, cause a problem. I know this does not speak to the problems that are below that obvious threshold. I wish there was better info on this.

 
Dheak
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said this on
11 Jul 2009 1:41:08 AM PST
I am a beer lover and could not imagine life without it. Beer is literally my greatest pleasure. As such, if I were to be diagnosed with celiac disease, my life would then become automatically less complete. While I understand that it is possible for celiac patients to consume alcohol by way of distilled spirits, I would have a hard time accepting that. I love a good glass of beer like a regular person likes a piece of chocolate. The consumption and recently the creation of (I started home-brewing recently, can't wait to taste the results) of delicious beer is pretty much my life. Much respect to those who have similar tastes to me but can't fulfill said pleasures.

I drank a beer once called Redbridge, brewed by Anheiser Busch, that advertised itself as being celiac safe. It is brewed with sorghum rather than barley. It wasn't bad but it wasn't Guinness by a long shot.

 
glen
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said this on
07 Aug 2012 1:41:06 PM PST
Redbridge is a very good alternative for gluten-free people. There are several alternatives in the gluten-free market, but unfortunately all are very expensive.

 
Shadowboricua
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said this on
14 Jul 2009 1:54:12 PM PST
Yeah, beer is your greatest pleasure and lymphoma can be your biggest nightmare. Just cause there is no reaction when you drink beer, it does not mean that you are damaging your bowel. Most celiacs are asymptomatic but it still can result in lymphoma.

 
ciarraighli
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said this on
06 Feb 2010 6:45:31 PM PST
So sad. I love me a good beer too, especially the dark kind you can chew. However, though I have not been diagnosed with celiac, I have discovered that I seriously have a problem with grains, especially wheat. (& so does everyone I know who has gone on a Paleo diet like I have--we really should stick to meat, fruit, & veggies as a species). I do notice a problem, albeit not severe, when I have a beer. So if you are severe enough to have sought medical help, I strongly advise against having beer at all. Really.

 
Michael
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said this on
01 Apr 2010 5:45:03 PM PST
It's pretty misleading for people without celiac disease to comment on this, we all love a great beer, and as a poor college student I'm always looking for more gluten free beers. I'd love to hear that Sapporo is gluten free but the results seam inconclusive. Redbridge, Bards and New grist are the only ones out there right now.

 
Laura
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said this on
22 May 2010 1:45:06 PM PST
As a celiac who has been eliminating things from my diet for going on 10 years, I don't hold any hope that there is anything out there that is totally gluten-free. My system is so sensitive to any lectin that looks like gluten, I have problems: candy. Manufacturers use wheat flour to keep the candy from sticking to the conveyor belt. Not only do wheat, rye, barley and spelt bother me, but due to something I can't understand, I also have to avoid dried beans, chocolate and chilis. Now, the gluten in corn bothers me. People tell me that a deep fat fryer gets up to 335 degrees, so no gluten would survive. If the oil is fresh, I have no problems. If it is used, I can tell. I can't eat food with Distilled White Vinegar because my body can find the gluten in it.

With the two most common food allergies being wheat and cow's milk and type O blood having to avoid wheat, potatoes and corn because of metabolic inhibitors.

 
Colleen Moore
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said this on
23 Jan 2011 9:57:27 AM PST
Thanks for the insight.. are you allergic to any shellfish?

 
mookie
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said this on
24 Oct 2011 1:56:21 AM PST
There is no gluten in corn. There is no gluten in vinegar.

 
Rich
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said this on
05 Nov 2015 6:49:16 AM PST
Vinegar distilled from apples has no gluten. That distilled from wheat most certainly does contain gluten.

 
admin
( Author)
said this on
05 Nov 2015 3:00:57 PM PST
If distilled all vinegars are gluten-free.

 
Quin
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said this on
28 Dec 2011 10:47:15 PM PST
I too have been celiac for over a decade. You mention not being able to hand beans, chocolate, and chilis as well as potatoes, I am hoping to help out with some possible information.

I have been trying to have a high performance body and without gluten for going on almost 15 years now. I have done well. There are always new things one learns, and then about 5 years ago, the joint and buttocks muscle pain started. It was diagnosed as Fibromylgia. Heads up, I hated it - it rocked my world and me me more and more weak. It, like celiac disease is auto-immune. One day I had enough I started looking for what triggers arthritis and other auto-immune disorders. That is when I stumbled on the detox diet that takes all nightshades out of a person's diet to get pain free from arthritis. SOLD, I would try it for one month. after two weeks my Jump Spin side kicks were a foot higher, my splits were a foot lower, and I stopped being on a pain scale of 0-10, daily a 7 or 8, down to daily 0, possibly once to twice a week 4-5. That was September, I haven't gone back! I have slipped twice and within a 1/2 hour of the potato starch being consumed... the knees and GLUTT /hip muscles were SCREAMING in scale 8-9 pain.
So, try it out for a few weeks, no Nightshade family means, no: Tobacco, potato, tomato, sweet or hot peppers, eggplant, and no goji berry. This means watching the capsasin, or paprika. But I tell you, though the diet is rough, even for someone who does already read everything. I have quantifiable results, and measured my quality of happiness in practical total lack of pain!
I gave up chocolate during this detox as well. Cause once I started the detox, chocolate gave me wicked headaches. Three months later, I tried some chocolate. No headache. So again, Quality of life. Possibly this will help you.

Also I am so sick of hearing people say, well we filtered it... There isn't any wheat... look, bleach and heat don't kill gluten. Cross contamination is a problem, and direct ignorance of science is scary. I am glad there are scientists out there trying to find the answers.

 
Robyn
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said this on
16 Jul 2013 11:17:03 PM PST
Hi there. I do not have celiac disease, but I have very bad intolerance to all gluten. I wonder if you have ever considered a yeast or mold allergy or candida as part of the problem for corn, chocolate, potatoes and vinegar. I only ask because some of those intolerances were actually related to yeast/candida issues for me...and not related to gluten problems specifically. I've had really nice success with a yeast free, sugar free candida diet for a limited period of time. (Plus tons of probiotics and digestive enzymes.) You can find the diet online and it asks you to forgo some of the exact foods that are problematic for you. Vinegar especially! I'm now able to add in some limited quantities of foods that before we're awful for me. I've never responded to a post before and really have little experience but hopefully you'll find relief. Good luck!

 
Steve
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said this on
08 Jan 2011 2:21:14 PM PST
I am a beer lover with celiac disease. Redbridge made by Amheiser Busch is the choice for me. The only problem is when you are out and about very few bars or stores carry it. Was on vacation last week and did try the Sapporo beer. Felt fine but who knows what it did to my gut.

 
Kestrel
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said this on
08 Jan 2011 7:20:47 PM PST
Estrelle Damm has the best gluten free beer hands down.. a little expensive unfortunately. It's called Daura I believe. It's actually made from barley but filtered to 6ppm if i remember.

 
Frank
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said this on
17 Aug 2011 9:11:01 AM PST
If you can find Estrelle Damm Daura, BUY it. REAL beer, NOT made with sorghum comes from Spain, $40 a case but worth it.

 
Christy
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said this on
28 Aug 2011 8:13:39 PM PST
Estrella Daura! It's gluten free and amazing! Worth every penny <3 I drink Sapporo often and no huge reaction so I feel it's safe. If I have a Stella or amber beer I feel death.

 
Brent
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said this on
01 Sep 2011 1:35:45 AM PST
Fantastic explanation -- thank you.

It would seem to follow then that beers that are advertised as being gluten-free are in the same class as Sapporo and other light beers. While technically there is no or very little intact lectin proteins, the remaining peptides could precipitate an immune response. Is that accurate?

Thanks again.

 
admin
( Author)
said this on
02 Sep 2011 10:04:12 AM PST
FYI: Sapporo does not advertise that they are gluten-free, and I've never seen any test data on their beer.

 
Tony
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said this on
03 Sep 2011 3:15:05 PM PST
I have not been diagnosed with celiac, but for years I have had bowel, chronic indigestion and abdominal bloating so I decided to try gluten free. Now my gut is like a mood ring for gluten. I was at a party, and the only thing I had was 3 beers...pow, I was like 4 months pregnant. I was hoping it wasn't the beer, but it is not looking good eh!

 
Robert LaRue
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said this on
30 Oct 2011 3:53:46 PM PST
This article is totally unscientific. Kasarda's comments regarding the react-ability of celiac sufferers to beer are based on nothing but specious assumptions. He presents no evidence that the gluten-derived peptides in beer cause the T-cells to attack the epithelial cells in the intestine. Heck, he even admits it! It's nothing but wild speculation.

My former GI--a specialist in celiac disease, who has written a popular book on it--told me beer is "probably safe."

But there is one reliable test: do celiac beer-drinkers have normal TTG levels? And the answer is, "many do." I have read on the web comments from several celiacs who drink beer and claim to have normal TTG. I do, too. So, if you like beer, drink some--and then get a TTG blood test. If your levels are still normal, chalk one up for us celiac beer lovers!

 
Pam
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said this on
11 Jun 2013 7:08:15 AM PST
I really enjoyed New Grist beer. It's gluten free (sorghum-based) and quite delicious. I'm a huge beer lover, so I was happy to find a tasty gluten-free beer.

 
Zeb
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said this on
26 Jul 2013 5:37:10 PM PST
Omission Lager and Omission Pale Ale, both are gluten free.

Made with barley, they filter out the gluten.

I have been making up for lost time. I am going to crack another lager right now.

The sorghum brews are not too good.

 
Jon
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said this on
07 Apr 2015 1:36:37 PM PST
There are now a number of gluten free beers available but they don't taste very good! A friend pointed me to a liquid beer enhancer called OnTap Beer that is pretty good at changing the flavor to a much better tasting beer.

 
Mara Grace
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said this on
03 Aug 2015 12:16:47 PM PST
Are celiacs sensitive to hordein too? Does this mere fact explain why I feel "slightly" better after an IPA but not after "wheat beer"? I do not have celiac but suspect I am sensitive to modern wheat gluten. I searched for science articles related to fermentation of gluten and gliadin in beer, after recently coming across a PubMed article in which about a quarter of the patients (4 of 17 if I recall correctly) didn't react to Lactobacillus-raised sourdough bread due to the microbes metabolizing the main offending wheat proteins. However the same 4 didn't react to yeast-raised sourdough. I have no good reconciliation for this except perhaps those 4 didn't actually have Celiac Sprue? On a related note, I have read many studies in which even diabetics tolerate beer (what I term "carbohols" as alcohol is more like a water-soluble ketone) better than grain, bread and other (unfermented) refined starch. It's unclear to me whether the effect is from the alcohol or the fermentation or both. I am disappointed there is no better research, possibly an overly-cautious ethical consideration among modern scientists (as they had no problem testing alcohol and sugar/carbs on inmates 100 years ago).

 
Tammy
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said this on
01 Oct 2015 2:39:54 PM PST
Hi, I love beer and I have been diagnosed with celiac disease. Mine gave me especially problematic dermatitis. I have tried some gluten-free beers: Anheiser Busch's Redbridge and Omission Pale Ale. I found A.B.'s Redbridge to be very flat with little flavor. Omission, however, tastes like a high-quality beer and leaves a nice lacing around the pilsner glass. I don't want to aggravate my condition because I've made a 180 degree improvement, health-wise. No more inflammation, joint pain, brain fog and belly problems. I lost weight very quickly and I was no longer hungry because my body actually starting digesting the nutrients in my food once I started healing from the gluten problem.




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