Mike’s Hard Lemonade, A Gluten-Free Summer Treat?

Let me tell you a little story about the first and last time I had a Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

The scene: In line to get into a poetry slam the Nuyorican Café, New York’s Lower East Side. Dusk is falling.

The actors: myself and 2 of my friends. We’re 16. We’re VERY 16.

One of my friends was feeling nervous. This was no N’SYNC concert. We were clearly the youngest, whitest, suburbanest people in line.

I had the answer: she clearly needed an alcoholic beverage.

Nevermind that I’d never had a drink before, nor that I definitely did not look 21. I marched resolutely into the nearest bodega and emerged triumphantly, a single Mike’s Hard Lemonade in a brown paper bag in my hands.

We reveled in our illicit ways. The evening was a resounding success. The Mike’s tasted fine, I’m sure. Not long after I found out I had celiac disease, though, and so I never drank one again.

Apparently, this was an unnecessary precaution. I was reading this press release about a new, low-calorie Mike’s Hard Lemonade and came across this nugget of information:

In addition to the breakthrough taste, mike’s lite hard lemonade® and mike’s lite hard cranberry lemonade® are gluten-free. Both products have tested below the limit of quantification for gluten using a variety of highly sensitive tests – a result of Mike’s Hard Lemonade Co.’s proprietary filtration process that renders the malt base gluten-free. For more information, visit the “Talk to Us” section of www.mikeshard.com.

Since this was news to me, I thought it might be news to you all as well. I’m not terribly surprised – just as most naturally-fermented soy sauce actually tests well under the 20ppm gluten threshold, many beers test lower on the threshold than people realize.

The reason is hydrolization; because of the way the final product – soy sauce or beer in these cases – is made, the gluten in the raw ingredients often gets so broken down that it isn’t toxic (or AS toxic) as it would normally be. Testing to see if something is gluten-free or not is a complicated process with a big gray area, but the science has come a long way over the past 10 years and we’re now much more knowledgable about which parts of the gluten molecule are actually toxic to celiacs.

Now, just because Mike’s is gluten-free doesn’t automatically mean that any other Mike’s-like beverage is safe. But I’m curious: have you had a Mike’s Hard Lemonade since going gluten-free? If so, were you glutened?

28 thoughts on “Mike’s Hard Lemonade, A Gluten-Free Summer Treat?”

  1. I’ve heard conflicting information about Mike’s, and it has indeed made me sick every time I’ve had it. But I’ve never tried the lite…. is that the only kind that’s gf, then? The lite versions?

  2. I have not tried it mostly due to fear of a possible reaction, and would be concerned with the lite as artifical sweetners give me migraines.

  3. I’ve never gone near anything that says, “malt beverage” since going GF. I used to drink Zima, which they no longer make, but I also drank regular beer. It wasn’t until my thirties that I started developing symptoms, and now I have to be very careful to stay gluten and soy free. I even tried Tanqueray recently, as the guidelines for liquor have changed, but I was up sick all night with terrible gluten contamination. I suppose it all has to do with how sensitive you are.

  4. Considering I react to any soy sauce, I’ll stay away, thankyouverymuch. However, I have never had a reaction from any sort of liquor, and I drink it all the time!

  5. I’ve tried the GL Mikes and I don’t like it. I believe since it’s lite it’s sweetened with artificial sweeteners which I don’t care for. The nutritionist I go to told me that I could drink the regular Mikes and the Twisted Teas too. She said the distilling process brings the gluten level down to under 20ppm. Unfortunately I have to rely on labels or word of mouth to tell if something is gluten free since I don’t have a reaction to it. I was only diagnosed when I turned 44 on accident. Looks like it’s Redbridge for me.

  6. Too much about what I’ve read directly from Mike’s and online leaves too many questions in my head about this product. I for one will NOT be consuming it. It’s just not worth the potential risk. I’d rather make lemonade and add a splash of rum or vodka and know I’m 100% safe.

  7. Knowing that the process that renders the drink supposedly gluten free is hydrolyzation, I’ll definitely never be finding out. Glad you mentioned that little tidbit. Cannot eat/touch anything that’s been “lyzed” – hydro, auto, lipo, etc.

  8. I’m a big Mike’s fan. When my nutrionist told me they were GF, I was skeptical, so I contacted the company. They confirmed their GF status and I enjoy them without any stomach problems. Enjoy!

  9. I have had the LITE versions and they are just fine for me. ONLY the LITE versions are GF, so pay attention when grabbing a pack. Only complaint I have is that he alcohol content is very low. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t drink to get wasted, but I do enjoy the buzz I would get from drinking traditional beers and hard lemonades. But, all in the same, I am glad that now I have more of a choice and this option is much more obtainable then even Redbridge or Bard’s GF beers.

  10. I enjoyed mikes before I went gluten free but sadly I will not be trying this wanna be gluten free if its not 100% gf I won’t try it just cuz its under 20ppm doesn’t make it gf. I’m uber sensitive and can’t risk it.

  11. I am THRILLED to hear Mike’s Lite Hard Lemonade is GF. I truly miss the flavor and convenience of “malternative” beverages at summer gatherings. After doing a little more internet research, e.g. the company’s website, I’ll be heading out to the distributor to buy a case. PS I tried Woodchuck Hard Cider. It’s too “beery” for my taste, but another great option in alcohol consumption for those who must drink GF.

  12. it says only the lite is GF certified as being below 5 elisa but i cannot find anywhere that has the lite
    ps the sweetener is not artificial it is stevia a natural sweetener

  13. I DO NOT believe that this is gluten free. I drank it last night at our father’s day celebration and I am now doubled over in pain. I barely slept last night due to stomach pain and it was the only thing I ingested that could be the culprit. My glands are swollen as well, which is a telltale sign for me that I’m having a gluten or dairy reaction (i’m also allergic to dairy). So as one celiac to many others, I say STAY AWAY from Mike’s Hard.

  14. Thanks so much for your post. I used to drink malt beverages, but since going GF last Oct., I have gone without. Thanks too for posting the Press Release so I could read it for myself. Yeah, now I can have a beverage to enjoy this summer.

  15. I have tried the Lite Mike’s and have been just fine. I really don’t care for the taste of any hard lemonade-y drinks though; I really miss the taste of regular beer. Estrella Damm Daura (g-free beer made from barley) is the best thing I’ve found so far; I wonder, what standard beers test below 20ppm?? Would Corona Lite or any other “normal” beers thus be rendered gluten free by hydrolization??

  16. I had some last night, and I am suffering for it!! I would not try this product if gluten makes you sick . I am in complete agony. It says on their website at the moment that all of their products are gluten free, but again, if you have celiac or a gluten intolerance I suggest staying away!

  17. I was so excited to try GF Mikes Lite Hard Lemonade. I have been sick for 2 days…Never again, boy is that misleading. How can they label it that?

    So disappointed!!!!

  18. I was so excited to try GF Mikes Lite Hard Lemonade. I have been sick for 2 days…Never again, boy is that misleading. How can they label it that?

    So disappointed!!!!

  19. I had a Mike’s Hard Lemonade Lite (GF) and had an awful reaction to the beverage. I felt worst then when I ate a piece of gluten filled Pizza. I will NEVER try this beverage again.

  20. I have been a fan for a few years of the Mikes light.I remember when the Carbs were 2gms. Then it went up to 6 gms. Recently it went up to 14 gms. While I do understand and appreciate the last change from 6gms to 14 gms and with natural Sugar .I have a sensitivity to too much sugar. Natural Sugar can contribute to Tooth decay as well as Diabetes . Please take into consideration about supplying both .

  21. I had questions about Mike’s Hard Lemonade as well. I have not read through all of the comments that have been posted so I apologize if this is redundant.

    In order to find the answer regarding Mike’s Lemonade, I actually emailed Mike’s in order to find out if if was only the two drinks that were mentioned in the above article or all of their products. Mike’s Company was extremely nice and sent me back an long email explaining how all of their products are gluten free and explaining how they send their products to an outside lab. However, I am not sure about their mike’s iced tea, only their lemonade products.

    If any one as questions, I highly recommend emailing Mike’s Hard Lemonade and I am sure you will receive the nice reply that I also received.

  22. I haven’t had a Mike’s since I was diagnosed with celiac last November. My husband and I were at the market and I saw that the box of the Mike’s Lite Lemonade/Cranberry-Lemonade actually say “gluten free” on them. I am pretty sensitive to things with gluten in them. I stay away or else I wake up the next day feeling like I was hit by a semi-truck and I suffer for at least a week. I had two of the cranberry-lemonade’s last night while “watching” the Super Bowl. I liked the flavor. They are naturally sweetened (not sweetened with fake sugars). I do not feel the least bit sick or fatigued. I typically prefer wine, but sometimes at casual parties etc. where everyone is having beer it’s just easier to have something in a bottle like Mike’s than it is to bring a bottle of wine and worry about cups. Overall, I’m happy. They are a low alcohol percent and one bottle is 119 calories (30 more calories than 4oz of Shiraz) but still fun for a party.

  23. Here in Canada Mike’s is made with vodka so definitely safe. In the States it is malt, and I have problems as a celiac with all malt beverages (including Twisted Tea). Maybe it’s a problem for some and not others?

  24. This is news to me. I will definitely try it. I had the lite a long time ago but I was not totally gf then. In the last 4 years, I went totally gf as I was getting extremely ill with internal hemorrhage. The lite did work best with my type 1 diabetes. It didn’t send my blood sugar sky high!!

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