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Published on December 6, 2017 | by Alastair Gilmour

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Is it gluten-free or gluten-reduced?

There’s a steadily growing market for gluten-free beer, which allows everyone with an allergy or intolerance to wheat products to enjoy a perfect pint of craft ale. But what do we mean by “gluten-free” and should some beers carrying that tag actually be referred to as “gluten-reduced”?

People with coeliac disease – a reaction of the immune system to gluten, the protein found in many grains – and others who are allergic to wheat, barley and rye can still enjoy good beer, but there is a difference in how they are produced.

A gluten-free beer uses grains which are naturally free of gluten in the fermentation process – for example, sorghum or brown rice. In that way, the beer does not have any gluten in it from start to finish. A gluten-removed beer uses wheat, barley, or rye to ferment and make the beer, which then undergoes a process to remove the gluten using enzymes to break it down into smaller fragments which theoretically would not induce an immune response in the person who drinks it.

Co Durham-based Autumn Brewing was the first brewing company in the UK to brew all its beers and lagers domestically using only naturally gluten-free grain brewing malts containing rice, millet and buckwheat, plus quinoa. It has won several awards for its pioneering gluten-free work.

Many breweries are adding gluten-reduced options to their range – not just to satisfy the demands of this group of beer lovers, but also because it’s a fairly simple process to remove gluten while the brew is clarifying.

Brewers are always looking at efficient and cost-effective products to use which offer greatly reduced gluten content as an extra benefit. SE Brew Clear from NicheSolutions (NicheSolutionsGB.co.uk) is one of a number of ways of clarifying beer without affecting its flavour or aroma.

As an added service, the company can also arrange for a sample of a particular brew to be tested by international medical diagnostics provider Synlab, with a certificate of UKAS accreditation.


About the Author

Alastair Gilmour



One Response to Is it gluten-free or gluten-reduced?

  1. Jon Kyme says:

    “Gluten Free” has a particular meaning in UK labelling law. About which more here. Beers which have been processed so that gluten levels are below 20ppm as well as those made with alternative (no gluten) ingredients are “gluten-free”. According to guidance issued by Food Standards Agency, the use of ‘no gluten containing ingredients’ ( NGCI) and similar statements should not be used in any food labelling.

    “Gluten-reduced” isn’t a term with any particular legal meaning here. Gluten-free foods which are made with (originally) gluten containing ingredients will always have those ingredients labelled, so as to give consumers the information they need.

    If you’re interested, I’m sure Trading Standards would be happy to respond to any queries you may have.

    Cheers!

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