Ingredients Used to Make Gluten-Free Beer
In order for a beer to be gluten-free, it (quite obviously) can’t contain gluten. Gluten is a protein that is found naturally in most grains, including wheat and barley. This is unfortunate for those with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance, as nearly all the beers in the world are brewed with either wheat or barley. If someone who had Celiac Disease drank a regular beer containing gluten, their immune system would begin attacking their intestine (not pretty). So, for obvious reasons, gluten-free drinkers want an alternative that doesn’t contain gluten, but tastes as good as (or better than) a regular beer.
This isn’t easy. There’s a reason the industry has converged to barley and wheat, and when you take away the two most commonly used grains in brewing, it makes brewing a great beer a bit more challenging. However, there are several solutions to this problem, many of which we’re investigating at the Aurochs Brewing Company:
- Sorghum: The majority of gluten-free beers currently on the market use sorghum as their primary ingredient. Sorghum is an ancient grass, found in Africa, that is naturally gluten-free. Sorghum has been used to brew beers in Africa for thousands of years.
- Rice: A common additive, rice is naturally gluten and flavor-free. Many beer companies (not naming names) use rice as means to “pad” their beer and reduce costs (and flavor). Though you would never brew a beer solely with rice, it remains an option.
- Buckwheat: Another alternative to barley is buckwheat, also naturally gluten-free. It is a “pseudocereal” which means it is not related to wheat (and it looks like a flower). Buckwheat farming declined sharply in the 20th century primarily due to the use of nitrogen fertilizers, which decrease drainage and, as a result, buckwheat yield. Some breweries have attempted to brew beer from buckwheat.
- Millet: Millet is a naturally gluten-free cereal crop that has been grown in Asia for thousands of years. Like Sorghum, it has been used to brew beer in Asia and Africa.
- Chestnuts: Another gluten-free option, out of left field are chestnuts. Harvester Brewing out of Oregon is leading the way for brewing gluten-free beer with chestnuts.
- Other ingredients: Other gluten-free ingredients include quinoa, amaranth, and teff.
We’ll be working our way through all of these (and more!) to bring you a great-tasting, truly unique gluten-free alternative.
Have any other gluten-free beer ingredients? Let us know by posting a comment below.