Gluten-Free Beer: Trend, or Here to Stay?

As 2010 winds down, speculation season begins. What’s going to matter in 2011?

A friend of mine, one who is dedicated to all things beer, pointed out an interesting set of predictions from the National Restaurant Association. Every year they survey 1,500+ industry professionals regarding several hundred trends. For the past two years, one trend listed was gluten-free beer.

beerIt turns out that 58% of professionals surveyed thought this trend was a new one, and that 34% considered it “sooo five minutes ago”. Only 8% considered gluten-free beer a “perennial favorite.”

Now, gluten-free beer was on the trend list last year too: and the predictions were roughly identical. Fewer than 1 in 10 people surveyed thought the stuff was here to stay. While I’ll almost always choose whiskey or wine over beer, I know plenty of people for whom “giving up” beer was the hardest part of transitioning to a gluten-free diet. In fact, I’d wager that anyone who knows more than 2 people on gluten-free diets knows someone who was most saddened about beer.

Given how rapidly the number of diagnosed celiacs continues to rise, and how rapidly the gluten-free food market is growing (in the double-digits, which is huge), it’s shocking that there is so little confidence in the market for gluten-free beer – or in the ability of brewers to craft a tasty one.

So, in the interest of sticking my tongue out at the naysayers from the survey, I want to know: how often do you drink gluten-free beer? How often do you drink it at home vs. out in a bar or restaurant? What’s your favorite gluten-free beer – and if you don’t have one, what do you think brewers still need to figure out to craft one you’ll enjoy?

For some more information on gluten-free beer, you might want to check out our grocery guide or look at these links:


36 thoughts on “Gluten-Free Beer: Trend, or Here to Stay?”

  1. I’m always thrilled when I can order a gluten free beer in a restaurant. I prefer Redbridge and Bard’s over New Grist and have not tried any others. I’d be terribly sad if I could no longer buy gf beer to have at home with a burger or Mexican food or pizza.

  2. I love being able to go out and have a beer in a restaurant or bar.

    “I know plenty of people for whom “giving up” beer was the hardest part of transitioning to a gluten-free diet. In fact, I’d wager that anyone who knows more than 2 people on gluten-free diets knows someone who was most saddened about beer.” This IS me!

    Favorites are New Grist and Bards Tale! I am also enjoying ciders more than before. I drink it at home, and I am not shy about asking friends to go to a place I know has a GF beer or cider in stock rather than a place that does not. I usually enjoy a Makers Mark first, but then enjoy switching to a good beer. A place called “World of Beer” (http://coconutcreek.wobusa.com/) opened near me and the GM has been amazing about keeping a few different GF beers in stock and ensuring the GF community knows about them

    To the naysayers, I say, not a fad, but a way of life for some of us and you can either choose to make me want to come to your establishment or not.

  3. I’ve been GF for 10 years now and I cried over the loss of beer and pizza (maybe in that order) I drink it at home and out when I can. Redbridge is the most accessible I find. But I like the light and hint of sweetness of New Grist on hot days. Bard’s is always a standard great one. Although Green’s is a bit more expensive, it’s a bigger bottle and comes in 3 different flavors. Closest to best beer if you’re a big beer fan and taster. I’ve also had St. Peter’s Pilsner. It comes in a really cool bottle but I think you need to love Pilsner to enjoy it.
    I live in NY but there seems to be a lot of other locations. If you are GF you can go to this website and look for the beer you want to taste and it will show the bars near you that serve it. I cried again when a friend shared this link with me. Tears of joy of course!
    Check it out: http://www.beermenus.com/

  4. I’ve been diagnosed about 10 years and I absolutely love Red Bridge beer. Please don’t stop making it! I would be thrilled to be able to order it in a restaurant but I am perfectly satisfied to have it @ home.

  5. I like New Planet Tread Lightly Ale. It’s made in Colorado and to me it tastes much better than others I’ve tried. I take it to our tailgating parties so I have my own beer to drink.

  6. I was a beer drinker untill I became gluten sensitive. I have not been able to find gluten free beer. I ask for it at the food market, the liquor store and the all think I am a nut one guy working at the liquor store said ” no we do not have free beer ” and that is when I quit looking for gluten free beer quit drinking beer. in central florida for all the people who can not find gf beer drink wine it is not the same but better for you. thanks. william

  7. I love beer, there I said it. I miss my sandwiches, but have found other ways to enjoy deli selections, but beer..now that was hard at first. Redbridge is what I grab most times because it is easily available (Wal-Mart/Publix/Liquor Barn) and it tastes more like a standard Lager unlike Bard’s, which is good at certain times. I live in Lexington, KY and I have asked several Kroger grocery stores to carry it and on my next visit in I have found it fully stocked. I also see that I am not the only person buying it either :) My husband and I plan to give a whirl at brewing GF beer after the New Year. A brewing friend of mine is going to give it a shot as well. There are a few others I’ve tried, but Redbridge seems to go with everything..I’d be really ticked off if it went out of production.
    PF Chang’s carries Redbridge, Mellow Mushroom carries both Bard’s & Redbridge and people, you would be surprised which restaurants will carry it after you request it, especially restaurants that already have a GF menu..JUST ASK!

  8. I would be very upset if they did not make gf beer anymore. I do not like wine or many hard liquor drinks. I think redbridge beer is the best. I bring it to every party I go to. Friends have tried it who are not gf and thought it tasted good also.

  9. I have been eating GF for 25 years, I recently tried Redbridge and my palate did not care for it. After growing up on Ciders it seems I can’t train myself to like these beers coming out. Good tasting ciders are Strongbow from England. Woodchuck from Vermont and Magners also from England.

  10. I’ve only been gluten-free for just over a month now. I’m not a huge beer drinker, but like having the option, especially when a bunch of friends go out just to talk awhile. Beer lasts longer and people are more willing to buy it for you. :) I get headaches from red wine and my doc says white wine is harder on the stomach. I do enjoy hard liquor but that’s not appropriate for every occasion.

    Haven’t tried a gluten-free beer yet; I thought Bud Light was because its made from rice but I guess I was mistaken. New Grist is made in my state so it’s probably easier to find.

    More of us should ask for the gluten-free beers even if we’ve personally decided to switch to wine or cider, just to maintain demand. :)

  11. A huge relief to me, newly joining the ranks of the gluten free, was gluten free beer. I regularly drink Redbridge and Bard’s, because they’re the easiest to get and the best tasting I’ve tried, but I want more choices! Where’s the dark? Where’s the ‘light’?
    BTW – I’ve had 2 of Green’s 3 kinds, and I hated them. It was more like beer-soda than beer – too fizzy and too sweet, for me.
    I’d love to hear what else is available inthe N Texas area!

  12. I’ve been GF for about 8 months now, and beer being off the menu for me is by far the biggest impact, not just because I like the taste of a good micro brew after a bike ride or something, but because of the social impacts. “Meeting up for a beer or two with friends”, or “grabbing a quick pint after work” are things of the past. I’m in Boise, ID and finding a GF beer in a bar is tough. I’ve never had any interest in wine or liquor, so my social life has been the biggest change for me of having celiac disease. Going to Portland, Oregon is great because the Deschutes brewery brews GF beer and has it on tap, so I can relive the enjoyment of splitting a pitcher with friends (yes it tastes good enough that non GF people will drink it!). If Redbridge and New Grist went away, which I drink at home, I would seriously have to consider trying normal beer again and hope for the best, as beer never seemed to affect me before I went GF, just wheat products. I’d really like to see some serious investigation and testing of regular beer and its gluten content. If anyone can direct me to some conclusive scientific info on this, it would be good to read.

  13. I most often drink GF beer at home and cider out at bars. There are a few bars in the DC area (where I live) that have GF beer, but usually they’re more expensive places that I don’t want to drag my friends to for a typical happy hour. Luckily, more places have started carrying cider so at least I have something tasty to drink other than liquor! As for my favorite, I definitely prefer Green’s Triple Blonde (or their Amber). Many of the other GF beers out there use extra hops to cover the taste of sorghum, and I’m not a huge hoppy beer fan.

  14. I was really sad about giving up beer as well. I do enjoy Bard’s and Redbridge, at least it’s readily available. We are an adventure racing team and the finish line is always flowing with free beer-it’s the perfect post-race recovery tool. I carry a cooler to keep mine at hand to toast. (Yeah, I miss toast too.)
    For my go to drink, I’ve always enjoyed wine, so that hasn’t been too difficult. However, we cook a lot with beer and if our friends make the chili, well, you can bet I’m going hungry.

  15. I’ve tried a variety of gluten free beers and Redbridge is still my favorite (an more economical). Two years ago I could barely find it in my local grocery stores, now I’m thrilled to find it popping up in the grocery stores, sporting stadiums and local resturants. I drink it regulary at home and out in about. My friends have even started only picking resturants and bars for us to go out to that serve Redbridge. Gluten free beer might be a fad for those who only follow fads. But for a person who didn’t grow up gluten free, and had to make the transition, gluten free beer is a delight.

  16. Just been GF for 9 weeks, but sure hated to give up my Mich Ultra. Redbridge is my favorite, but it just has too many calories so I savor every sip and usually just have 1-2 per week. Also, the price of GF beer really needs to come down before I drink beer like a used to. Switched to wine and/or ciders. Still not the same however.

  17. I LOVE beer! I’m one of those who have missed it on the GF diet. I drink Redbridge or Bard’s or hard cider at home several times a month, but it is impossible to find any of those when we go out for dinner. I would order a beer or hard cider over any other drink if it were available.

  18. i am also among those that miss beer very much as a recently diagnosed (2 years ago) celiacer.
    if i am ever dining somewhere that offers gluten free beer as an option, i order it- no matter what. its just such a nice treat to enjoy a beer while eating out, i cant resist!
    as an avid beer drinker prior to my diagnosis, i have felt pretty let down by the caliber/tastiness of gf beers. i tried st. peter’s a few months ago and was an instant fan. it was a delicious beer, and an awesome design. the messenger (la messagere) is pretty good, particularly the Red Ale.
    i found that i was paying quite a bit of money for beer ( a six-pack here in vancouver, bc is about $20), so i decided to brew my own beer about 2 months ago. i got a starter kit online (http://www.homebrewers.com/product/ALP1050/Gluten-Free-Honey-Ale-Beer-Kit.html) and ive saved a ton of money and the beer is great! i would compare the taste to Blue Moon, and it tastes great with a little slice of lemon in it.

  19. I wish that bars could see the opportunity available to them if only they would actively market gf beer availability instead of having a few Redbrige bottles tucked away in case people asked for it. There are decent beers available, and I reckon even non celiacs will drink them if they’re on the menu. I’m a beer drinker, and it was the hardest part about the diagnosis. I was delighted to find gf beers available, though with the limited availability I do miss having a beer in a bar with my friends. Now if I find a bar that has gf beer (and I do research it), I’ll go there – and take several business associates or friends with me (they are happy to go where I can have a beer, so there’s a lot more business than just me). Go to it, marketers! As far as beers go, I like Bards in colder weather, and for nicer occasions I like St. Peter’s Sorghum beer (nice bottle too). New Grist is OK, and of course Redbridge is the go-to beer for availability (the “Bud” of gf beers!). I always go to Deschutes when in Portland (and again, take several non-gf friends with me).

  20. I drink Sapporo Beer! It is Japanese Rice Beer, never had gluten in it, so it is naturally gluten free! It is available in local grocery stores and tastes much better than any “designed” gluten free beer that I have tasted!

  21. I’d be so upset if they stopped making Red Bridge. There are very few restaurants and bars in Northern Ohio that have GF beer. I’m with the people who said they missed pizza and beer the most when they began to eat GF.

  22. I was thrilled to discover gluten free beer. My favorite is Green’s from Belgium. There are 3 varieties, a light, a medium, and a dark ale. I prefer the dark one. Good body, good taste – reminds me of a good, dark beer from my long ago beer drinking days. Red Bridge is my least favorite. Bard’s is good and New Grist is also ok. I mostly drink gluten free at home, especially since I haven’t seen gluten free in very many restaurants in my area.

  23. Thank you for the link! Personally, so far, I am a Green’s Dubbel Dark fan and pretty much only drink at home. In NE Nebraska, there are not many restaurants that serve gluten free. I am personally not a fan of Redbridge. Crispin cider, not yet sold in NE is excellent. Currently there is no chance of GFree beers going away all together, but the Association is here to promote more brewers and distributors to make and carry GFree beers. I talk with all of the GFree brewery’s and many distributors and importers. They are very interested in how many people will join together in support of GFree beer. The biggest bottle neck at this point is distributors who don’t feel enough GFree beer sells to take “their” shelf space. Only a unified voice will change that opinion. We all need to “shout” a little louder! :-)

  24. I have not been successful finding a restaurant in my area that has gluten free beer. My favorite beer is Red Bridge. Unfortunately buying gluten free beer in my area is also next to impossible. Thus, I love going on vacation in Florida and Massachusettes where there is much more accessibility to gluten free restaurants and stores. There is nothing better then a beer and a burger. All places have to do is advertise they sell gluten free beer and they would have plenty of business.

  25. My husband has celiac’s and mostly drinks Redbridge because it’s the one GF beer that our Kroger carries. He loves dark, wheat beers and really misses them. His favorite so far is New Grist which we can’t get where we live, but he has tried it in Chicago and we found it in Nashville. We really wish there was more variety and with all of the people being diagnosed with Celiac’s the market for GF beer only continues to grow.

  26. I like Bard’s better, but my husband likes Redbridge. We would be very unhappy of they stopped making GF beer, my husband more than me, but we would be very happy if ANY restaurants in our area, (N.San Diego County) would offer GF beer as we haven’t found any that do.
    People who poo-poo GF beer or any GF food are either not celiac or are and don’t (want to) know it–which means that they are in denial. We all are addicted to what makes us sick.

  27. In NYC, restaurants carry many brands of GF beer, but in NJ I normally can only find Red Bridge. I wish restaurants would carry St. Peter’s Sorghum Ale because it tastes much better then Red Bridge and it is bottled in pints!

  28. Christie,

    Bard’s is available at the following restaurants/bars in the San Diego area:
    Pizza Port – Carlsbad, Ocean Point, San Clemente
    Cheesecake Factory – San Diego, Chula Vista
    Tony’s – Oceanside
    Aunt Emma’s – Chula Vista
    San Diego Brewing Co – San Diego
    Ritual Tavern – San Diego
    Urban Solace – San Diego

    Bard’s has a beer locator on its website which can be searched by city, state and zip code. Please let us know your favorite retailers not carrying Bard’s and we make the call to get Bard’s there.

    Happy Holidays.

  29. I love beer; I drank about a six pack a week. I had no beer until Red Bridge came out. I have two beers that I can purchase in my area, Red Bridge and New Grist, with New Grist being better tasting than Red Bridge . At about $10 a six pack; I drink about one or 2 a week. The GF beer has a much different taste than non GF beer. It’s a little bitter and not as smooth as most non GF beers

  30. I love beer, so it’s definitely been tough for me. Green’s is my favorite. and Bard’s is good, too. Redbridge and New Grist aren’t that great, in my opinion – but they seem to be more available. Cider is a great alternative – most bars have at least one or two kinds.

  31. I miss beer. A lot. I was used to drinking Sam Adams, Amber Bock, Guiness, Empyrian 3rd Stone Brown Ale, etc., and I was used to drinking it on a daily basis. I like my darker beers. I live in Omaha, NE and all I’ve been able to find is Redbridge and Woodchuck cider. Woodchuck is SO sweet and Redbridge has this odd, “gummy” aftertaste that I’m not okay with. I’m very frustrated with the lack of GF beer options. I’m THIS close to going out and learning how to brew beer so I can experiment with making my own GF beer. :)

  32. I just toured the Budweiser Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado and they said there are expanding the Redbridge line with more flavors coming soon.

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