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  • Scott Adams
    Scott Adams

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

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    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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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

    FYI: Sapporo does not advertise that they are gluten-free, and I've never seen any test data on their beer.

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    FYI: Sapporo does not advertise that they are gluten-free, and I've never seen any test data on their beer.

    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!

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    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.

    There is no gluten in corn. There is no gluten in vinegar.

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    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!

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    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.

    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.

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    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...

    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.

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    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.

    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.

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    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.

    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!

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    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.

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  • About Me

    Celiac.com's Founder and CEO, Scott was diagnosed with celiac disease  in 1994, and, due to the nearly total lack of information available at that time, was forced to become an expert on the disease in order to recover. Scott launched the site that later became Celiac.com in 1995 "To help as many people as possible with celiac disease get diagnosed so they can begin to live happy, healthy gluten-free lives."  In 1998 he founded The Gluten-Free Mall which he sold in 2014. He is co-author of the book Cereal Killers, and founder and publisher of Journal of Gluten Sensitivity.

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