A Call for More Gluten-Free Beer

Take a moment to think about how much life would suck if you couldn’t drink beer. I’m not talking about a nagging wife who gives you a hard time about it or sitting in the "family section" at your favorite sporting event… I’m talking about your body straight up rejecting it to the point that the physical reaction makes you sick.

Personally, I can’t think of anything more awful.

A close friend of mine suffers from Celiac Disease, an inherited autoimmune disease that makes it impossible for him to enjoy foods made with gluten and other proteins found in wheat, barley, rye and other grains.

Beer is entirely grain-based, making it impossible for my friend (and approximately 3 million others suffering from the condition) to drink it without becoming ill and causing serious damage to his small intestine. He avoids it all together, which to me is very sad. I decided to do some research on his behalf.

Anhauser-Busch Red Bridge BeerIt was no surprise to me that there are gluten-free beers available. Where there’s an opportunity to make profit – corporate America will find a way to capitalize. While gluten-free beers are not exactly mainstream (yet), they are out there. In 2006, Anheuser-Busch launched their gluten-free beer Red Bridge. By 2008, the Great American Beer Festival had a category dedicated to gluten-free brews and 10 beers were entered. Red Bridge won the gold, a brew called New Grist from Lakefront Brewery took the silver and Chinquapin Butte Golden from Deschutes Brewery took the bronze.

Most of these beers are brewed using sorghum, a cereal grass commonly used for brewing in African countries. During the Great Depression, sorghum syrup was used in place of the far more expensive maple syrup so it’s not surprising that it brews a sweeter tasting beer. While it’s been noted that it’s not exactly the same, it is still beer. I’d imagine that many people living with Celiac (including my friend) would appreciate the ability to enjoy a cold one that their body can digest. That being said, I urge any brewers reading this to consider trying their hand at gluten-free beer. You never know what you might come up with and there are millions of thirsty Americans looking for more options!


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