When beginning a gluten-free diet it is important to consider the beverages you are consuming. Just because you are maintaining a gluten-free diet doesn’t mean you can’t drink socially – you just need to find gluten-free alcoholic beverages that are safe to consume. Certain items should be considered off limits, such as beer and whiskey, while others are almost always gluten-free, such as rum and tequila. Below you will learn about gluten-free alcoholic beverages, why each drink is safe or unsafe, and a few suggested brands.
Is Beer Gluten-Free?
Bad news for beer drinkers: beer is made with hops, barley, and other ingredients that are not gluten-free. This applies to just about all types of beers, from light beer to craft beer to the most recognizable major beers. We would advise anyone with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance to avoid drinking beer unless it is specifically made gluten-free.
Not willing to give up beer completely? Many companies are beginning to produce beers specifically crafted for people with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance. These beers are typically still brewed with barley, which contains gluten, but use a special process to remove gluten from the final product. Others use a different set of ingredients that contain little to no gluten, such as sorghum or buckwheat. Not convinced gluten-free beer is safe to consume? Breweries producing gluten-free beer test each batch to ensure they contain less than 20 parts per million, the requirement for any product with a “gluten-free” label. If you’re still not convinced, go with a liquor alternative that you know does not cause a negative reaction.
The best gluten-free beers
Our favorite brand of gluten-free beer is Omission, a brewery that produces a pale ale, lager, and an IPA. Omission beer can be found at many liquor stores – ask a clerk if they carry it, or if they know of any other stores that cater to customers on a gluten-free diet.
Cider is a Great Gluten-Free Alternative to Beer!
Not everyone is a big beer drinker, and it’s not always acceptable to drink spirits in certain social settings. If you need a gluten-free alcoholic beverage for a casual night out, go with a cider! Most ciders are gluten-free because they are not brewed from wheat, barley, or rye, but rather apples. While you should always double check the ingredients, which are listed on most ciders, the majority of major cider brands are gluten-free. Not sure where to begin? Magners, Woodchuck Cider, and Ace Cider are a few of our favorites!
Which Spirits are Gluten-Free?
There is some debate about whether or not certain liquors are safe to drink by those with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance. Most experts believe that distilled alcoholic beverages, even those made with grains containing gluten, are safe to drink because the gluten is removed during distillation. Everyone’s body reacts differently however, so do not consume any beverage that you believe is responsible for a negative reaction. Below you will find more information on what you need to know about each type of liquor.
Vodka, Rum, and Tequila are Gluten-Free
One train of thought is that gluten is removed during the distillation process, and therefore most liquors are gluten-free. On the other hand, The Celiac Sprue Association suggests playing it safe and drinking alcohol that is made without ingredients containing gluten. Potato vodka, rum, and tequila are made from ingredients that do not contain gluten and are accepted as safe to drink by those with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance.
Are Whiskey and Bourbon Gluten-Free?
Whiskey and bourbon are not universally accepted as gluten-free, although there is much debate on the topic. Many claim that the distillation process purifies the liquor of gluten, making it safe to consume. Others note that the distillation process is not always carried out properly, or ingredients containing gluten are added in after distillation, and therefore the final product still contains more than 20 parts per million of gluten. Unfortunately we cannot give you a yes or no answer on whether whiskey and bourbon or gluten-free. Some celiacs have claimed to experience reactions from drinking these liquors, while others are able to consume them without a reaction. Our suggestion is to drink alcoholic beverages that you know are safe. If you’re determined to find out if you can drink whiskey and bourbon, test a very small amount of a brand considered to be safe for gluten-free dieters, such as Johnny Walker. Everyone has a different tolerance, so you may be able to drink whiskey and bourbon safely. Again, we suggest playing it safe and choosing a gluten-free liquor you know your body can tolerate.
Is Wine Gluten-Free?
Most wine is considered gluten-free because it is made from grapes, which do not contain gluten. So, for the most part, wine is considered gluten-free and safe to drink. There are a few exceptions however, because certain aspects of the wine-making process can introduce gluten to the final product. There are a few things you need to know about wine to make sure you don’t have an accidental gluten-exposure.
The aging process can introduce gluten to wines if certain ingredients are used. Some winemakers use a flour or wheat paste to seal oak barrels used for aging wines. The final wine will typically contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten, however a person with celiac disease that has a high sensitivity may experience a reaction. Other wines may add ingredients such as coloring or flavoring, such as desert wines, that may contain gluten. If you are unsure, ask major wine manufacturers if their wines are gluten-free and stick to what you know is safe.
For the majority of us with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, we can consider wine to be gluten-free and safe to drink!
Gluten-Free Alcohol Takeaways
- Avoid beer unless it is specifically brewed to be gluten-free
- Rum, tequila, and potato vodka are gluten-free
- Whiskey and bourbon are not universally accepted as gluten-free, so proceed with caution
- Wine is typically gluten-free and safe to drink
- Most ciders are gluten-free and a great option for casual social drinking
- Always drink responsibly – gluten-free or not, you don’t want to be a sloppy drunk!
You’ll need gluten-free beverages if you plan on making cocktails and other alcoholic concoctions. Check out our guide to gluten-free beverages for a comprehensive list of options!