As someone who’s been Coeliac all her life, I can say with some certainty that traversing the world of beer has not come without risks (mostly I’ve just been semi-cautiously drinking the beer and dealing with whatever consequences follow later) but, for me and many others like me, that is changing.
By Lolly Watkins.

Thanks to wider awareness of the requirements of us Coeliacs and the growing demand from those who want to avoid gluten for other reasons, more breweries are crafting delicious and varied gluten-free beers. From crisp and zesty lagers to sweet and smokey dark ales – we have much more choice than before. The Government have also introduced regulations that make it even easier for people like me to identify what's safe to eat with this handy logo:

For any food and drink to be defined as “gluten-free”, it must be tested by an independent body, and have certification to prove that the gluten content is less than 20 parts per-million (ppm). I love the fact that a fair amount of beer naturally falls into the "low-gluten" category of 20-50ppm, which means I can tolerate a glass or two of a beer before maxing out my tolerance. However Coeliacs are advised to remain cautious even with the current guidelines as sensitivities vary from person to person.

The presence of grains like rye, barley and wheat throw big red flags to anyone sensitive to gluten protein, whereas others such as rice, buckwheat, maize, oats and lentils are naturally gluten-free and still fun to brew with. Brave brewers will explore alternative grains like these – however some have found ingenious ways to de-glutenise their barley-brewed beer by breaking down the offending proteins during the brewing process. Here’s a lowdown on the ones I’ve tried.

NATURALLY GLUTEN FREE

Green’s, Discovery

Green’s Discovery was the first gluten-free beer I had ever tried. After spotting it in the FreeFrom section in my local Sainsbury’s I just had to take some home, and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s brewed with millet, buckwheat, sorghum and brown rice, so is naturally gluten-free with notes of raisins and a light bitter finish. Green’s also make range of de-glutenised beers which are well worth discovering (see what I did there?).

You can buy this beer here

St Peters Gluten free range

St Peters have two naturally gluten-free beers in their portfolio, one is a 4.2% ABV crisp and biscuity ale with a pilsner style finish, and the other is a rich, marmaladey dark ale, brewed with Sorghum extract to bring it to a low ABV of 3.9%. The unique bottle design makes this beer feel pretty special, but it’s surprisingly affordable.


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Hepworth Classic Old Ale


Hepworth like to make their beer naturally gluten free, instead of removing it later. And they've made a classic. Dark and full of roasted flavours that's balanced with the fruity sweetness of plums and a dry, whiskey-like finish. This beer can be served slightly mulled so crack it open when it's cold outside.

You can buy this beer here


DE-GLUTENISED

Damm, Estrella Daura

When I caught wind that Damm had produced a gluten-free version of their Estrella, I was over the moon. This beer is indistinguishable from the original, but registering at a mere 3ppm it’s almost completely free of that rebellious protein. It’s slightly toasted with delicate herbal bitterness that’s great with paella, or hot dogs, or salads… need I go on?

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Celia

Gluten-free and naturally carbonated, this beer is brewed in the cellars of a 14th Century castle in ┼Żatec, Czech Republic where it is still produced today. It’s de-glutensied down to less than 5ppm but yet still holds true to the wonderful flavours that Czech lagers are famous for. They use Saaz hops for a light, zesty, lemony edge, and it’s fermented cold for 14 days to ensure a crisp, biscuity finish. They have a light and dark variation, both delicious, both should be a staple in your fridge.

You can buy this beer here

Daas Brewery

This new brewery has already made waves, creating Belgian classics that Coeliacs can sup with smiles. Their blonde has characteristic honey and spice notes that make it perfect with seafood, or winter favourites like cheeseboards and shepherd’s pie. Daas have also gone beyond what most other gluten free brewers have tried to do, and created a delectable version of a wheat beer, called Daas Witte. Extremely aromatic, it has hints of clove and star anise spice, floral notes and a tangy orange character – ideal with roast chicken, or my personal favourite - a decadent with duck à l’orange.

You can buy this beer here

Westerham Brewery

A certificate of authenticity is always a welcome sign for a Coeliac, and this brewery based in Kent display them online for every batch of gluten-free beer they produce. Under 20ppm, British Bulldog, Freedom Ale and Audit Ale are the ones to look out for, and phenomenal with sausages and BBQ’s.

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Hop Back, Crop Circle

Crop Circle, a classic British pale ale with a soft citrus taste is a wonderful beer to accompany al fresco dining on the patio, a picnic filled with strawberries and cream or even a spaghetti Bolognese at home.

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Wold Top Brewery

Their flagship gluten-free beer, dubbed Against the Grain is aptly named. Fresh, fruity and balanced, it’s award-winning status is well deserved. Scarborough Fair is their IPA and it’s bolder and bigger with more body and bitterness. Most interestingly, they’ve gone head on into brewing a gluten-free Marmalade Porter, it's delicious, complex and rich with overtones of bitter orange, coffee and chocolate. All beers score under 20ppm.

You can buy this beer here

First Chop Brewery

First Chop has the widest range of gluten-free beers I’ve seen, with 10 beers available in cans or bottles, and all available to buy from their website. I recommend POD, their exciting Vanilla Stout. It’s everything you’d hoped for and more, pair it with a New York baked cheesecake and treat yourself.

You can buy this beer here

Peroni Gluten Free

The gluten-free beer uses exactly the same ingredients as regular Peroni Nastro Azzurro, but they’ve cleverly de-glutensied this crisp lager without affecting the flavours at all, and the best bit? It’s widely available in most restaurants (including Carluccio’s, which has a whole menu dedicated to a gluten-free diet!).

You can buy this beer here

Brewdog, Vagabond

Brewdog have created a beautifully hopped pale ale that they have dubbed Vagabond. It’s aromatic citrus and tropical fruit notes balance beautifully with caramel and pine-bitterness. It’s available in pubs which is a huge bonus too.

You can buy this beer here


Hambleton Ales

A personal story behind a brand always gets my eyes watering – Hambleton Ales started creating their four gluten free beers because after the founders cousin was diagnosed with Coeliacs, he was unable to enjoy Hambeton’s beers anymore. This range of 4 was brewed with him in mind, but benefit the rest of us. Good As Gold is one of my favourites and delightful with fish & chips.

You can buy this beer here


Bellfield Brewery, Lawless Village IPA

This brewery is another one of the brave, experimental types, they brew with a low-gluten barley to produce an impressive array of beers. Their pack leader? This copper coloured, citrusy beer. Perfect for pizza night.


There are plenty more beers I haven't tried, so if you want to explore, and buy a mixed case, click here to go to Amazon for a starter for 10.

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