And THIS is Why You Should NEVER Drink Gluten-Removed Beer!

Can I drink gluten removed beers with celiac

I’ve written about beer on this site. A lot. I’ve written about it here. And here. Oh…and here too. Look over here. Wait…it’s here also. And finally…yeah it’s here.

Yes…I have a writing about drinking problem.

But this one is a biggie. There has been so much ridiculous debate over the years if gluten-removed beers are safe for those with celiac disease. Let me just say this: they’re not. Is my answer scientific? Kinda. Is it backed by studies done, celiac experts and those that have suffered after trying them? Yes.

For those new to the game, gluten-free beer is just that. No gluten ingredients used. Period. Safe to drink. Cheers to that.

Gluten-removed beer actually uses gluten ingredients (usually barley) and through a method that is not scientifically valid (and frankly is pure bullshit), they say enough gluten is removed to get it under 20ppm. But like I said, it’s not valid. The FDA even agrees and does not allow gluten-removed beer to be labeled gluten-free. But that doesn’t stop the gluten-removed beer companies from still marketing their beer as gluten-free. Yeah…they suck. I guess they’re not too proud of being called “gluten-removed”.

Now the gluten-removed beer companies will tell you that their product is completely safe for those with celiac disease. And sadly, a lot of people in the celiac community are either unaware that their beers are actually not gluten-free, or don’t care because “dammit…I want beer that tastes like beer.” (Dude note: There are now several gluten-FREE beers on the market that are spectaculous. Of course they are not nearly as easy to find as the removed beers. Sigh.)

Which brings us to the latest news. There is a brewing company called Hepworth, around since 2001, that produces a gluten-removed beer that they say is safe for celiacs. From their website, here is how they make the gluten-removed beers, which of course they are calling gluten-FREE.

We are pleased to announce the launch of a range of beers which will delight beer-lovers who are gluten intolerant, suffer coeliac disease or who wish to avoid potential allergens. We’ve selected a low protein barley – gluten is a protein. Traditional malting and brewing methods, when employed meticulously, result in the breakdown of the protein and then fine filtration removes any residue. The result is an authentic craft beer, gluten free, traditionally brewed, with no compromise on quality, taste or strength.

Well guess what? They announced yesterday that they are recalling an entire batch of their “gluten-free” beers because…wait for it…it contains EXCESSIVE LEVELS OF GLUTEN (and yes, I’m shouting.) Here is their official statement:

Bottles of Classic Old Ale with a best before date of 20-08-2018 have shown a higher than expected level of Gluten. Accordingly we are recalling this batch of beer, as it is not Gluten free. We apologise, but assure you that the beer is in all other respects a very acceptable brew. Celiacs can expect the next batch to be up to our usual standards.

Let’s break this down, shall we?

  • They call their beer “gluten-free” even though it’s not.
  • They f*uck up an entire batch, putting the celiac community at serious risk.
  • They say the batch, in all other respects, is a very acceptable brew. Seriously…that is what they said. It’s acceptable, you know, except for that one thing that will attack the intestines of the thousands who will unknowingly consume it. Besides that, hey cheers!
  • They tell the celiac community “Hey…no worries…you can still trust us. We’ll be using the same shitty process but it will never happen again.” Uh huh.

I will say it over and over and over again folks. Do not consume gluten-removed beers. Please, please STOP GIVING THEM YOUR BUSINESS (and yes I’m shouting again.) If we stop supporting them, they will stop making “gluten-removed” beers and the true gluten-free brew masters like Glutenberg, Ghostfish and Groundbreaker will get even more of the market share and will continue to keep us safe.

And isn’t that what having celiac disease is all about?

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33 thoughts on “And THIS is Why You Should NEVER Drink Gluten-Removed Beer!”

  1. Try Green’s. It’s made in Belgium and comes in several varieties of darkness. I love it! Got it with a gluten-free pizza in Dublin, but it’s available here.

  2. Greens is absolutely the best! I love Glutenberg, but it’s harder to find than Greens, even in northeast Ohio. The only problem with is Greens is the cost.

  3. Mark Richardson

    GroundBreaker is very good but NOT available in Missouri. I am happy to report that Unita out of Slat Lake City makes 2 different GF versions and are available in Missouri Unita FreeForm IPA and Larger too. Green’s can be found and is good but very expensive.

    I have to wonder WHY distribution of such unique and safe products seems so very difficult and complicated.

  4. Here in good old Augusta GA there’s Redbridge and since I’m lucky enough to shop at the Class Six store at Fort Gordon I can find Glutenberg. It seems the stores here just love to stock gluten removed beer and tons of hard ciders but hardly any other gluten free beer. Why oh why does it have to be so tough to find a decent GF beer without doing the special order by the case thing?

  5. I wish the true gluten free beers that are from over seas would be easily distributed through out the US or if more US breweries would make them!!

  6. I agree with you to an extent, but the problem is that it is very difficult to get good gluten free beer in most places. Redbridge is the only one that is fairly easy to find, and it is the opposite of good. I am lucky enough to be able to get Bard’s, but that requires a special trip. I have tried to get my hands on Groundbreaker, but no luck. It’s easy to shout, but people are just trying to feel normal.

  7. Thanks for sharing this latest disturbing info on gluten-reduced beers and for your constant advocacy on this issue. I’ll add a link to this new info (your article) in my article on safe (and unsafe) gluten free alcohol. (
    I’m on a gluten-free blogger retreat right now in Portland and we visited Groundbreaker Gastropub last night. It was a great reminder that when naturally gluten free craft beers can be this amazing, why would anyone risk their health with gluten-reduced beers?

  8. Thanks for sharing this latest disturbing info on gluten-reduced beers and for your constant advocacy on this issue. I’ll add a link to this new info (your article) in my article on safe (and unsafe) gluten free alcohol.
    I’m on a gluten-free blogger retreat right now in Portland and we visited Groundbreaker Gastropub last night. It was a great reminder that when naturally gluten free craft beers can be this amazing, why would anyone risk their health with gluten-reduced beers?

  9. It’s nice that there’s another gluten free beer on the market but $9 a bottle isn’t exactly realistic. It makes Greene’s look cheap.

    1. If you can find it New Grist (Lake Front Brewery, Milwaukee, WI) is a Pilsner style gluten free beer. It’s a lighter beer than ales and even lagers. Wines and More carries it in California.


    1. Can your beer be ordered online and shipped to US? I believe the GF beer market here is big and underserved. Could be a chance to spread your brand and satisfy some Celiac taste buds.


  10. I’ve been buying the Unita IPA and Pale Ale and they are very good, on par with Glutenberg and Greene’s, but not quite as expensive.

    Nicole: New Grist Is a Pilsner style GF beer that’s pretty close to a traditional light beer. Glutenberg’s “White” (comes in a blue can) is also a very light style beer.

    Cheers, Slainte, Salud!

  11. I had no idea that Daura is gluten removed, I live in Spain and here they promote it as beer suitable for celiac and say that it has less than 3ppm, it also has the support of the Federation of Celiacs of Spain. I do not drink beer I have never liked and I have never had beer without gluten but it is good to know that not everything that is promoted as “gluten free”with gluten free label is really gluten free, this post has served to open my eyes, from now on I will read more carefully the labels even if they have the approval of the federations of celiacs (who are supposed to be in charge of warning when a product is not really good for celiac people)

  12. mark richardson

    Nicole: Unita’s IPA is on the light side with 4% alcohol.. That is pretty close to most or many light beers on the market. Unita is produced in Salt Lake City and we are fortunate to have a local distributor carry it ( Total Wine is the Distributor).

    Not cheap at about $8.99 a 4 pack but a lot better than the few alternatives.

  13. Gluten Dude and celiacs everywhere, in a moment of complete insanity I actually trusted a chef’s assurances at an “all inclusive resort.” Any guesses how many meals I made it through before the dreaded glutening? One. Only one because the second sent me straight to celiac h***.

    I realize this doesn’t speak directly to the topic of beer but the segue is in the labeling. Celiacs, don’t expect the FDA, USDA, or any other government agency to keep you safe (as I tell people all the time, “my body didn’t get the government memo that 20ppm is okay”). But I digress – somewhat.

    Here’s the thing. We, celiacs, have to accept that our safety, our health and well being is solely up to us. So please, please, please, if you are going to buy and ingest manufactured products rather than whole/raw foods, become label smart.

    Gluten Free does not mean the same thing as celiac safe. Wouldn’t it be heavenly to see Celiac Safe become a labeling standard? What would celiac safe mean?
    1. No gluten containing grains have entered this manufacturing facility, ever. In fact, employees of this facility are not allowed to bring gluten-filled items to eat during their breaks (and of course the onsite vending follows the same rule).
    2. It should be apparent from #1, this product has neither been produced nor packaged on a shared line.
    3. Common celiac (non gluten) food sensitivies have been considered in all our product formulations. In other words, there will never be any high fructose corn syrup, nor any soybean product or derivative (yes, I’m calling you out soy lecithin the processing aid that doesn’t have to be disclosed), nor any *insert remaining common sensitive items*.
    4. That list of chemicals that you see on every other food label but can neither pronounce nor know for certain if it was derived from a gluten containing grain? You will never see those on our label because they never enter our facility.

    What’s the point? The words Gluten Free in and if themselves are only good for those following a gluten free diet because it is the latest fad. Celiac Safe would carry a completely different connotation that would truly mean “fear not celiac, eat me.”

    Let’s see, it takes 6-10 years to get a proper diagnosis for celiac disease. So Celiac Safe labeling should happen…probably never. Therefore we are back to being label smart. At the very least ask yourself the biggies:
    – Was it produced in a certified gluten free facility?
    – Was it produced on a dedicated gluten free line?
    – Does it contain any of the long list of ingredients that celiacs are commonly sensitive to (which SHOULD tell you the manufacturer doesn’t fully grasp celiac disease).
    – Lastly, forget the label and ask yourself, “What other products does this company make that are very likely to be run in the same facility if not on the same line?”

    For 14 years I worked in food manufacturing – in facilities that quite often had wheat, barly, rice and other flours literally airborne (Yes, this was prior to my diagnosis but not prior to the onset. Yup, I was breathing the trigger straight into my lungs.). Why do I tell you this? Because as a facility manager overseeing the efficiency of the allergen clean-outs came with the job description. Read “timeliness” moreso than thoroughness. Here’s the reality folks: that allergen change-over in a shared facility is only as good as the lowest paid hourly worker’s cleaning effort and the lab tech (who doesn’t want to get dirty reaching into machinery to swab the unseen areas). Let that thought soak in for a minute and then be sure to recall it the next time you suffer a moment of hunger driven insanity and think “but the front of the package says gluten free.”

    Gluten Dude, keep up the good work you have going here.

    Matthew (diagnosed about 2 years ago and practicing truly clean eating for about 5 months – if you don’t count the moment of insanity at the all-inclusive resort)

  14. It takes about 4 hrs to brew a couple of gallons of very good beer at home, and you can do other things around the house while it’s brewing once you get the hang of it. Price is about 1.10-1.25 per 12 oz. beer. Any style, pale to porter, any hops, any recipe of your own choosing. I think it is. Sure it’s a bit of a hassle but do you want good beer to drink or not??

    1. Uh…yeah it is. From their website:

      “We’ve selected a low protein barley – gluten is a protein. Traditional malting and brewing methods, when employed meticulously, result in the breakdown of the protein and then fine filtration removes any residue.”

      That is gluten REMOVED.

  15. No it’s not – read it carefully. Gluten-removed would normally involve the addition of Clarex/Clariferm or another enzymatic addition. This is one of (at least) two brewers using a different process you’re going to like even less and it shouldn’t be confused with gluten-removed…

    They rely on “low protein” strains of barley (but this isn’t the Kebari strain) and do not add anything further to control gluten levels. The claim is that by reducing the protein/gluten input the natural fermentation reactions will reduce the level further and achieve< 20ppm.

    Gluten-free/gluten-removed… it's become a lot more complicated than that dichotomy, there are at least four clearly different brewing methods now being used to produce GF beer.

    1. Right– they don’t remove the gluten. They just remove the “residue”. And whether they’ve added enzymes or not is not at issue. They started with gluten-containing grain, did something to make the beer test below 20 ppm (or whatever the rule in the UK is), and call it gluten free. The gluten had to go somewhere. Maybe it would be better to call it “gluten denatured” beer.

      But gluten-removed or not, there’s still the question of how accurate the testing is. If the gluten which has been “broken down” doesn’t show up in the tests they use, does that mean it won’t affect any celiacs? There needs to be some good research on this.

      I’m with GD– spend your money with Glutenberg, et al.

  16. I was so excited back in 2005 to find New Grist that I ordered two cases of it. It tasted like I would imagine urine in a bottle would taste. Fast forward to Redbridge, and it’s a bit better but still…urine. I’ve tried many beers since then and have found that anything with sorghum sucks. Omission Beer says they have tested their beer with mass spectrometry, which is a pretty dang high level of testing, even tests for protein fragments. I’m tempted.

  17. I tried Omission a few days ago, and I was not a fan. I was just diagnosed and told I need to give up gluten this year, and giving up beer makes me the saddest. I loved wheats, stouts and craft beers, and now I’m experimenting with Ciders (what I drink when I had just started drinking and hadn’t developed a taste for beer haha) and the few ‘safe’ gluten free beers there are to choose from. Based on this blog and the gluten free beers I’ve tried so far, I guess I’m going to become a Wino.

    1. I became a wino a few years ago after dabbling with Omission and pretty much everything under the sun that semi-resembled real beer. Unfortunately I don’t have a gut response that tells me if something is off, my symptoms generally come in the form of joint pain & flu-like symptoms (which lead to my getting tested for celiac in 2014). I can say that I never feel those symptoms off of gluten removed beer. But from everything I’ve read, it’s probably not worth it.

      Being someone who brewed beer before my diagnosis, I use to consider myself a beer snob. And I have to say, true gluten free beers suck… I’ve tried just about everything commercially available. Binny’s in Chicago carries just about everything imaginable. Some are tolerable, but most are just awful for those who were beer lovers before. Best to get used to Wine, as it’s still the real thing!

  18. I have to say that the gluten-free (or removed) beer situation is highly confusing. For example, Finnish Coeliac Society does consider gluten-removed beer safe to drink and awards the gluten-free label to these products. However, it is recommended to limit the consumption of these beers to two small bottles per day. Then, in the English speaking world the situation seems to completely different and people are warned about the same products that are accepted as safe in Finland. As far as I know, they are also accepted in Sweden and at least in some other countries.
    Of course, the differences are not limited to beer, the recommendations vary between countries in other respects too. This makes it difficult to be sure if your diet is safe or not. And since I also suffer from a variety of other symptoms that are not related to coeliac disease, I can’t rely on my reactions either.

    1. Daura Damm is made with grain containing grains and then “crafted” to remove. Says right on the label that The gluten level cannot be verified

  19. Daura Damm is made with grain containing gluten and then “crafted” to remove. Says right on the label that The gluten level cannot be verified

  20. Folks on here recommending Greens. Greens states clearly that it is barley malt with the gluten removed. Surely that’s ‘gluten removed’ not ‘gluten free’. You’re pretty much advocating what this article is calling out.

    I personally would not touch any beer that is from barley malt but claims to be GF. In UK all the supermarket GF sections stock loads of different beers marketed as GF but all are barley malt with gluten removed. Everytime I’ve drank these I’ve had a coeliac reaction. Called it out with Coeliac UK who aggressively still defend these beers as gluten free.

    To be fair, I no longer trust any foods labelled as GF as I personally think the <20ppm thing is a myth and is simply keeping a low level of damage on the go that will eventually become greater damage. I do not believe anyone's GI tract will heal with a 20ppm level. It's like telling people with lung disease that they can tolerate 2 cigarettes a day. It's pretty insane.

  21. I love that you reference Hunter S. Thompson in your “Who is Gluten Dude??” blurb.

    Just tried a craft gluten-removed porter from a local microbrewery earlier this evening, and it was fabulous (tasting). But I am not feeling the greatest now and stumbled across this blog as I was trying to figure out if I had made a mistake. I have “off the charts” celiac disease as well and a bunch of other food intolerances and hypersensitivities, and my willpower breaks down from time to time, even without enzymes. Tonight, I think I pushed my luck indulging in that porter, and after reading this blog entry, I suppose I really ought to settle for New Grist (all I can ever really find around here) or nothing at all.

    Bummer to have confirmed my gut feeling on this, but I feel better knowing for the future that “gluten-removed” beer is just not an option. Thank you for the information.

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Who I am. And who I'm not.

Who I am. And who I'm not.

I AM someone who's been gluten-free since 2007 due to a diagnosis of severe celiac disease. I'm someone who can steer you in the right direction when it comes to going gluten-free. And I'm someone who will always give you the naked truth about going gluten free.

I AM NOT someone who embraces this gluten-free craziness. I didn’t find freedom, a better life or any of that other crap when I got diagnosed. With all due respect to Hunter S. Thompson, I found fear and loathing of an unknown world. But if I can share my wisdom, tell my stories and make the transition easier on you, I’ve done my job.

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