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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Oktoberfest Beer Guide! Gluten-free vs. Gluten-removed Beers

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Caption: Gluten-free beers are more popular then ever this Oktoberfest. Photo: CC--Maria Eklind

    Celiac.com 10/14/2016 - It's almost October, and that means beer, or, at least it means Oktoberfest is near. And in so many ways, gluten-free beer lovers have never had it better, with dozens of selections now available commercially, and more on the way every month, it seems.

    So grab a beer, and celebrate Oktoberfest. But before we get to the list of beer purveyors, let's quickly review some basics of gluten-free versus gluten removed.

    Naturally Gluten-free Beers—Naturally gluten-free beers are made with all gluten-free source ingredients, and use grains like sorghum instead of barley. This is important to many people, especially those with high sensitivity, or the belief that gluten-removed beers may trigger celiac-related problems.

    • Pros: Guaranteed gluten-free from start to finish. As close to 100% gluten-free final product as it gets.
    • Cons: Beers made without barley can taste tart, or have a shallow flavor profile. Aren't considered beer under German standards.

    Gluten-removed beers—Use traditional source ingredients like barley to brew beer traditionally, then use various enzyme processes to break down the gluten.

    • Pros: Traditional source ingredients. Traditional beer flavor. Test under 20 ppm gluten. Can be labeled as beer according to German purity laws.
    • Cons: While many people with celiac disease seem to be able to tolerate gluten-removed beers, many claim that these beers trigger adverse symptoms. The jury is still out on whether gluten-reduced beers are safe for people with celiac disease.

    From a purely technical standpoint, beers brewed from all gluten-free source ingredients cannot be called beer in Germany, due to strict labeling laws in effect since the 14th century.

    The standard set by the FDA for gluten-free labeling in the United States requires that products be made with gluten-free ingredients, and must contain less than 20ppm of gluten.

    The standard set in Europe allows manufacturers to use gluten, rye, or barley in the manufacturing process, so long as the final product tests below 20 ppm gluten.

    Many European beers follow that method, and use wheat and or barley to brew their gluten-free beers. The beers are then treated with enzymes to break down and filter out any gluten. The result is a beer that looks and tastes like a traditional beer, but which is also gluten-free, according to the European labeling standard.

    A List of Naturally Gluten-free Beers

    • Anheuser-Busch Redbridge
    • Bard's Gold
    • Bard's Tale Beer
    • Brasserie Dupont Forêt Libre
    • Brasseurs Sans Gluten Glutenberg Blanche
    • Brunehaut Bio Ambrée
    • Brunehaut Blonde Bio
    • Brunehaut Blanche
    • Burning Brothers Brewing
    • Coors Peak
    • Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales: Tweason'ale
    • Drummond Gluten Free
    • Epic Brewing Company: Glutenator
    • Ghostfish Brewery
    • Glutenberg American Pale Ale
    • Glutenberg Blonde
    • Glutenberg Belgian Double
    • Glutenberg India Pale Ale
    • Glutenberg Rousse
    • Green's Discovery Amber Ale
    • Green's Endeavour
    • Green's Enterprise Dry-Hopped Lager
    • Green's India Pale Ale
    • Green's Quest Tripel Blonde Ale
    • Ground Breaker Corsa Rose Gold Ale
    • Ground Breaker IPA No. 5
    • Ground Breaker Dark Ale
    • Ipswich Ale Brewery: Celia Saison
    • Joseph James Brewing Fox Tail
    • Lakefront New Grist Ginger Style Ale
    • Lakefront New Grist Pilsner Style
    • Minhas Lazy Mutt Gluten Free
    • Mongozo Premium Pilsener
    • New Planet Belgian Style Ale
    • New Planet Blonde Ale
    • New Planet Pale Ale
    • New Planet Raspberry Ale
    • New Planet Seclusion IPA
    • New Planet Tread Lightly Session Ale
    • Nickel Brook Gluten Free
    • Nouvelle France La Messagère
    • Nouvelle-France Messagère Aux Fruits
    • Nouvelle-France Messagère Red Ale
    • Schnitzer Bräu Hirse Lemon
    • Schnitzer Bräu Hirse Premium
    • Sprecher Brewing Company's Shakparo Ale
    • Steadfast Beer gluten-free Blonde and Pale Ales
    • Steadfast Beer Company's Oatmeal Cream Stout
    • To Øl Reparationsbajer Gluten Free
    • Whistler Forager

    A List of Gluten-Removed Beers

    • Alley Kat Scona Gold Kölsch
    • Brunehaut Bio Tripel
    • Estrella Damm Daura
    • Estrella Damm Daura Marzen
    • Lammsbräu Glutenfrei Lager Beer
    • Mikkeller American Dream Gluten Free
    • Mikkeller Green Gold Gluten Free
    • Mikkeller I Wish Gluten Free IPA
    • Mikkeller Peter, Pale And Mary Gluten Free
    • New Belgium Glutiny brand Golden and Pale Ales
    • Short's Brewing Space Rock
    • Stone Delicious IPA
    • Sufferfest Brewing Company Pale Ale and Lager
    • Widmer Omission Lager
    • Widmer Omission IPA
    • Widmer Omission Pale Ale
    • Wold Top Against The Grain
    • Wold Top Marmalade Porter
    • Wold Top Scarborough Fair IPA

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    Harvester is the former name of Ground Breaker Brewing. The Corsa hasn't been made in ages. Their year-round beers are Dark Ale, Pale Ale, IPA No. 5 and Olallie. They have a more recent list of seasonals on their website as well.rnrnhttp://www.groundbreakerbrewing.com/seasonal-gluten-free-beers/

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    I am curious why you did not include the Coors Peak gluten-free beers on the list. They are made with brown rice and Pacific Northwest hops and are certified gluten-free. And even better, I did not get a headache from them as I normally do with the sorghum beers.

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    You say: "use various enzyme processes to break down the gluten... Can be labeled as beer according to German purity laws."Is that true? I thought the only allowed ingredients were water, barley, hops, and yeast. I second Jessica on Burning Brothers - also available in Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Nebraska. Steadfast also produces gluten-free Blonde and Pale ales. Estrella Damm Daura also brews a "Marzen", a true Oktoberfest-style beer. I had it last year and it was great. New Belgium offers gluten reduced Glutiny brand Golden and Pale ales. The Pale is my favorite - very drinkable.

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    You say: "use various enzyme processes to break down the gluten... Can be labeled as beer according to German purity laws."Is that true? I thought the only allowed ingredients were water, barley, hops, and yeast. I second Jessica on Burning Brothers - also available in Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Nebraska. Steadfast also produces gluten-free Blonde and Pale ales. Estrella Damm Daura also brews a "Marzen", a true Oktoberfest-style beer. I had it last year and it was great. New Belgium offers gluten reduced Glutiny brand Golden and Pale ales. The Pale is my favorite - very drinkable.

    Yes, there are various ways to remove gluten from beer, and they do qualify as "beer" in Germany, including but not limited to this one: Lammsbräu Glutenfrei Lager Beer

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    I am curious why you did not include the Coors Peak gluten-free beers on the list. They are made with brown rice and Pacific Northwest hops and are certified gluten-free. And even better, I did not get a headache from them as I normally do with the sorghum beers.

    It's on there.

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    I am curious why you did not include the Coors Peak gluten-free beers on the list. They are made with brown rice and Pacific Northwest hops and are certified gluten-free. And even better, I did not get a headache from them as I normally do with the sorghum beers.

    My mistake. I'll note it.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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