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Gluten-free Beer


Photo: CC--Mr Hicks46

Celiac.com 04/15/2017 - Raw materials used by breweries include barley. A characteristic feature of this grain is the presence of gluten proteins which also includes hordein. This group of proteins are the trigger of celiac disease symptoms [Darewicz, Dziuba, Jaszczak: "Celiakia – aspekty molekularne, technologiczne, dietetyczne." Przemysł Spożywczy, styczeń, 2011] . This issue raises the need to seek new methods of brewing that allow for the elimination of gluten proteins from the beer [Swora E., Stankowiak-Kulpa H., Mazur M. 2009. Dieta bezglutenowa w chorobie trzewnej. Nowiny Lekarskie 78, 5-6, 324-329]. The biggest problem for coeliac patients is to identify permitted foods. Food manufacturers know about the above problem and are offering new products for people with celiac disease. [Cichańska B.A., 2009. Problemy z rozróżnianiem żywności bezglutenowej. Pediatria Współczesna. Gastroenterologia, Hepatologia i Żywienie Dziecka 2009, 11, 3, 117-122.] The market offers access to a gluten-free beer. Beer of this type can be prepared in one of two ways, either by using materials that do not contain gluten or by removing gluten during the production of beer. Such products are, however, expensive. Traditional market beers are not tested for gluten content, which may differ from one brand to the next.

Barley, hops, yeast and water are the basic raw materials for conventional beer production. Gluten in beer is only in the barley or wheat, from which malt is produced. During malting, barley is subjected to the processes of soaking, germination and drying. At that time, amylolytic and proteolytic enzyme activity increases and grain composition is undergoing changes. Knowledge about the migration through various stages of beer production and the final level of these proteins or their "toxic" fractions is crucial to ensuring customers about the safety of the beverage they will consume. Therefore, it is important to conduct research to better understand the role and the amount of unwanted hordein and/or wheat prolamin in the production of beer. Malt has become a subject of research because of its harmful potential for patients with celiac disease.

In a study conducted by Czech scientists different species of barley, malt and beer were analyzed. Beers analyzed for gluten content were characterized by very different gluten contents. The level of gluten in raw cereals ranges from 18-68 g/kg. After comparing the different types of beers, in terms of the gluten concentration, the results were as follows:
non-alcoholic beer

Raw seed contained 50.4 ± 1.8 g per kg of gluten and comparing to it malt 68 ± 4 g per kg of gluten. Higher levels of gluten in malt have been confirmed in studies on other types of barley and other crops derived from a corresponding malt from which they were produced under similar conditions.

Malt barley grains are subjected to extraction during mashing. Gluten content was examined during the entire production process. The amount of protein decreases during the production process due to precipitation of proteins in the fermentation mash, at the adsorption stage, and during beer stabilization. Researchers say that the gluten content in beer is about three times lower than in the raw barley grain. The gluten content changes at each stage of the beer production as is shown below:
malt> sweet wort> wort after chop adding > beer> stabilized beer.

Most of the proteins in the sharps (milled barley) are extracted which is a remnant of the filtration process in the mash tun (the vessel where the wort is boiled). Only a small part of the gluten goes to sweet wort – 1.75%. A slight decrease was recorded after the boiling process with the addition of hops -1.7%. During the fermentation process the pH decreases, this causes the precipitation of the polypeptides and their adsorption on the surface of yeast cells. Only 0.21% of the initial gluten content remains in the beer. After the filtration process beer is subjected to colloidal stabilization with PVPP - polyvinylpolypyrrolidone and silico gel (kiesegel) and then they are removed. This process results in lowering gluten content to less than 0.11% of the initial gluten content of barley [Immunochemical determination of gluten in Malts and Beers, Food Additives and Contaminants; TFAC-2005-365.R1, 29-Mar-2006; Dostálek, Pavel; Institute of Chemical Technology, Prague, Department of Fermentation and Bioengineering Chemistry].

The researchers used three methods to test the gluten content of beer. Their results differ from each other. Results show that to accurately estimate the amount of proteins and peptides dangerous to people with celiac disease, we must first develop a good methodology for the analysis. This will give the exact content of these harmful substances and provide real security to customers. If we use the method demonstrating the largest gluten protein content, only 30% of the samples were safe for patients. According to the authors there is no safe beer brewed from barley or wheat if we accept that the maximum tolerable daily intake of gluten is 10 mg. The law of the European Commission says that gluten-free food must contain less than 20 mg. per kg. Proteins present in the beers are removed during production through product stability and are hydrolysed by proteolytic enzymes present in the various stages of production. Partially hydrolyzed prolamines contained in beer are still "toxic peptides"- short protein fragments containing from a few to several amino acid residues. These fragments, rich in proline, trigger a series of reactions from the immune system, leading to celiac disease [Commission Regulation (European Communities) No 41/2009 of 20 January 2009, the Official Journal of the European Union, 21.1.2009, L 16 / 3].

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The most obvious method for the production of gluten-free beer is to use only gluten-free raw materials. In the production of such a beer a lot of attention must be paid to remove unwanted components from the beer. Technologists involved in the production of beer specialize in the removal of proteins from beer and controlling their levels, as they can reduce colloidal stability of the beer flavor. Removing or reducing the amount of these proteins may be a way to achieve our goal.

Confounding factors in the production of gluten-free beer can be:

  • Selection of barley varieties with a low content of protein and the corresponding enzymatic apparatus;
  • Mashing process modified by deeper proteolysis, similar methods are used in the manufacture of gluten-free bread searching for enzymes capable of degrading specific proteins and peptides;
  • Methods of striving for maximum distribution and precipitation of proteins with the use of adsorbents;
  • The use of proteolytic enzymes in the production and stabilization of fermentation, such as amyloglucosidase is used to improve fermentation or β-glucanase to reduce viscosity. The enzyme used in the end may be proline endopeptidase;
  • Implementation of the adsorbent during the stabilization phase of beer to remove residual proteins and peptides.

Conventional materials can be used, if the genetically modified seeds will be devoid of genes responsible for the production of gliadin. However, such seeds are not yet available and the use of transgenic food additives is prohibited in many countries.

Modification of the enzymes to reduce the gluten content can be achieved in two ways. Genetically modified yeast capable of expressing specific enzymes capable of degrading the protein can be used, or adding the enzyme - transglutaminase - directly during the production can also be done. These methods each have their own advantages, because with the right methodology a beer can be produced without loss of its natural taste.

Another method of manufacture of gluten-free beer is the use of cereals rich in carbohydrates that do not contain gluten. These include amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, millet, corn, and rice.
We can also add raw materials, the lack of native amylolytic enzymes must be compensated by the addition of external enzymes. However, this is a factor which increases costs. Colorants and flavorings also have to be added [Celiac Disease, Beer and Brewing, Michael J. Lewis, Emeritus Professor of Brewing Science Department of Food Science and Technology, University of California Davis].

Gluten-free raw materials
Cereals that are not taxonomically close to wheat, barley and rye are safe for people with celiac disease. Potential sources of gluten-free beer include: sorghum, corn, brown rice, millet, teff, buckwheat, and amaranth. At present, one of the best gluten-free beer production methods is to use gluten-free raw materials and avoid any cross-contamination. Gluten-free beer production technology is not a new technology. Some African tribes have produced beer based on sorghum and corn for 20 years. It turns out that buckwheat has a large potential for the production of gluten-free beer. Even unhulled seeds can be used. Husks can be used as the filtering material in the filter vat. The resulting malt is characterized by a taste reminiscent of toffee with a slightly nutty flavor.

One of the major problems with buckwheat beer production is very low enzyme activity. It is several times lower than in barley enzymes. In addition, the high content of polysaccharides increases the viscosity of the solution. However, through rheological tests scientists have developed optimal methods in pilot studies and demonstrated that it is possible to produce a gluten-free beer with buckwheat. [Brewing New technologies, CW Bamforth Published by Woodhead Publishing Limited, Abington Hall, Abington, Cambridge CB1 6AH, England, First published 2006, Woodhead Publishing Limited and CRC Press LLC ß 2006, Woodhead Publishing Limited].

As the diagnostic methods for identifying celiac disease improve every year and more and more people are diagnosed with coeliac disease, the demand for this kind of drink will continue to grow. In addition, new types of beer can attract people who are interested in trying new tastes and making alternative choices.

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I am very interested in this too. My daughter tested negative for celiac, but has terrible primarily neurological symptoms. Because she tested positive for SIBO at the time and was having some GI symptoms, I was told it was just a Fodmap issue. I knew better and we have been gluten free for 2 years. Fast forward to this February. She had a SIBO recurrence that I treated at home with diet and herbal antibiotics because I couldn't get the insurance referral. She was doing great. Then stupid me brought in gluten containing chick feed for the new baby chicks we got. Feed dust everywhere. Total mess. Really, no GI symptoms (she was SIBO free by then)...but the neurological symptoms! my daughter couldn't walk for three days. Burning down one leg, nerve pain in the foot. Also heaviness of limbs, headache and fatigue. Better after three days. But unfortunately she had a TINY gluten exposure at that three day mark and had another severe reaction: loss of balance, loss of feeling in her back and arms, couldn't see for a few seconds, and three days of hand numbness, fatigue, concentration problems. Well, I actually contacted Dr. Hadjivassilou by email and he confirmed that the symptoms are consistent with gluten ataxia but any testing would require a gluten challenge. Even with these exposures, antibodies would not be high enough. His suggestion was maintain vigilance gluten free. I just saw my daughter's GI at U of C and she really only recognizes celiac disease and neurological complications of that. But my impression is that gluten ataxia is another branch in the autoimmune side of things (with celiac and DH being the other two). At this point, I know a diagnosis is important. But I don't know how to get there. We homeschool right now so I can give her time to heal when she is accidentally glutened, I can keep my home safe for her (ugh, that I didn't think of the chicken feed!) But at some point, she is going to be in college, needing to take exams, and totally incapacitated because of an exposure. And doctors state side that are worth seeing? Who is looking at gluten ataxia in the US?

Caro..............monitoring only the TSH to gauge thyroid function is what endo's do who don' t do a good job of managing thyroid disease. They should do the full panel and check the actual thyroid hormone numbers.........T3 and T4. The importance of the TSH comes second to hormone levels. In order to track how severely the thyroid is under attack, you need to track antibody levels.......not the TSH. I did not stay with endocrinologists because I found they did not do a very good job and found much greater help and results with a functional medicine MD. You should not have a goiter if your thyroid is functioning well and your TSH is "normal". Maybe they should do a full panel? Going gluten free can have a profound affect for the better on thyroid function and that is something that is becoming more and more accepted today. Ask most people with Celiac and thyroid disease and they will tell you that. My thyroid never functioned well or was under control under after I discovered I had Celiac and went gluten free. It was the only way I got my antibody numbers back down close to normal and they were around 1200 when it was diagnosed with Celiac. I was diagnosed with Hashi's long before the Celiac diagnosis. I am not sure Vitamin D has anything to do with thyroid antibodies but who knows? Maybe it does have an affect for the better. It is really hard to get Vitmain D levels up, depending on where you live. Mine are going up, slowly, even after 12 years gluten-free but I live in the Northeast in the US and we don't have sun levels like they do in the South. I take 5,000 IU daily and that is a safe level to take, believe it or not. I get no sun on my job so the large dose it is! Having Celiac Disease should not stop you from being able to travel, especially S. America. I travel, although I do agree that some countries might be very difficult to be gluten free in. You can be a foodie and travel with Celiac so no worries on that front. You may not be able to sample from someone else's plate, unless they are eating gluten-free too but I have had awesome experiences with food when traveling so you can too!

I don't know what you drank or where.... so here are a few thoughts. - sure, a dive bar might have dirty glasses and serve a cocktail in a beer glass? But a nice reminder place, with a dishwasher, should be fine. If it's a sketchy place, Stick to wine, then it's served in wine glasses that aren't used for beer or bottled ciders in the bottle. - ciders on tap might, just a slight chance, have an issue. Because of beer on tap, mixed up lines, etc. - you may have a problem with alcohol - you may have issues with The high sugar content of the drink. I know I have similar issues if I drink serveral ciders of extra sugary brands - are you positive it was a gluten-free drink? Not this " redds Apple" pretending to be a cider - it's beer with apple flavor. Or one of those " gluten removed " beers?

Hi Stephanie, I'm also from the UK, I've found this site more helpful than anything we have! As already mentioned above, in my experience it could depend on what and where you were drinking. Gluten free food and drink isn't always (not usually) 100% gluten free as you may know, maybe you have become more sensitive to even a trace of gluten that is probably in gluten free food/drink. Is it possible you have a problem with corn, particularly high fructose corn syrup that is in a lot of alcoholic drinks? This was a big problem for me and the only alcoholic drinks I can tolerate are William Chase vodka and gin. I contacted the company last year and all their drinks are 100% gluten and corn free, made the old fashioned way with no additives, so maybe try their products if you like the occasional drink and see how you get on. If you drink out, not many pubs sell their products but I know Wetherspoons do and smaller wine bars may too. l was never a spirit drinker but I must say their products are absolutely lovely! Very easy on a compromised gut too considering it's alcohol. I second the suggestion on seeing a natural health practitioner. I've recently started seeing a medical herbalist, as I've got nowhere with my now many food intolerances since going gluten free last year and I've noticed a difference in my health already.

Sorry for the very late reply and thanks for the replies, I didn't get a notification of any. In case anyone else comes across this and has been wondering the same as I was, I did try a vegetable broth and I did react to it in the same way as if I'd eaten the vegetables. As for the candida, I've been using coconut oil and am seeing a medical herbalist for this and leaky gut. It's only been a few weeks but I've noticed an improvement all round.