What’s Your Gluten-Free Beer Made Of?

By Laura (The Gluten-Free Traveller)

I came across an interesting article from the Miami New Times on what they consider to be the best gluten-free beers and it got me thinking about beer.

I’ve never been a big beer fan myself so it’s not really something I miss but I have a few celiac friends who get super excited when a new gluten-free beer hits the market. If you’re a gluten-free beer drinker, what’s your favorite brand and what is the beer made from?

Gluten-free beers are becoming more common. New companies are bringing gluten-free varieties to the market and it’s no longer uncommon to find gluten-free beer in your local bar or restaurant.

Gluten-free beers tend to be made from buckwheat, rice, sorghum or a combination of these things. What do you think tastes best or tastes most like ‘real beer’?

The top five best gluten-free beers according to the New Times article are:

5) Buckwheat beer

4) Sorghum beer (like St. Peter’s)

3) Sorghum and rice beer (like New Grist)

2) Sorghum, rice, millet and buckwheat beer (like Green’s)

1) Cider (not beer but hey, it’s great AND gluten free!)

I’d definitely choose a cider over a beer any day of the week (gluten-free or not) but I want to hear from the beer fans out there!

What are your thoughts on gluten-free beers? Are they any good? Do they taste different from ‘normal beer’? Do you prefer buckwheat, rice or sorghum beers?



34 thoughts on “What’s Your Gluten-Free Beer Made Of?”

  1. I love Green’s and New Grist, but they’re hard to get where I live (in Utah, where the State Liquor Store controls ordering on beers above 3.2% alcohol content). The right flavor and ingredients all depend on the kind of beer you’re looking for – like wines, certain types of beer are more appropriate for different foods and occasions. But whenever I see a new gluten free beer, I snap it up. Before I went gluten free I was a beer connoisseur, and now I’m a gluten free beer connoiseur!

  2. Green’s is awesome! Have to say that it’s a FAVORITE of mine! I can add something to that list though…I just had Original Sin Cider ON DRAUGHT this weekend! I loved, loved, LOVED it!!! Too amazing! Very light and PERFECT for a nice early fall day! I highly recommend it…now I just have to figure out where I can buy it!!!

  3. New Grist is my fav so far but I am eager for a few new ones. I have to agree with Pamela, and add that it’s very difficult and frustrating for those of us who really love beer. Even more frustrating when you have to buy the whole case just to try something new. Buckwheat beer is listed in the article. Who makes a GF buckwheat beer?

  4. I drink Sapporo Japanese Beer… it’s great, a specialty at Japanese restaurants and they sell it at local supermarkets, much better than Gluten Free beers… it’s a rice beer!

  5. I have tasted New Grist, Bard’s Tale and prefer Bard’s tale to New Grist ( like a Guiness). I do like Red Bridge (by Anheiser Burch) the best of all thus far. I had heard that Sapporo is good but as a Celiac (diagnosed in 1988), I hesitate to chance anything that I am not sure of concerning whether it’s GF or not.

  6. The new Omission beers by Widmer (may only be available in the northwest?) are a complete game changer for GF beer. They have barley in them, but all batches are tested to make sure they are under 20ppm. See the Widmer website for more info on this if you’re sceptical.The Omission pale ale is just like the great microbrews I used to drink. My life feels normal again now I can go to the fridge and grab a beer that tastes like real beer. If you’re in Boise, Idaho anytime the Tablerock brewpub does a good GF beer made of buckwheat (it’s called O’Tay) which is good, and is on tap so you can get a pint poured for you. The only other ones I will drink now are New Planet Off Grid Pale Ale (based in Colorado), or if in Portland or Bend (Oregon), the Deschutes brewery makes a good GF beer available on tap. I feel bad for those of you that can only get New Grist, Bards etc – terrible stuff compared to what’s available in the north west.

  7. I like Redbrige the best, and it is available nationwide. Although I call ahead to ensure availability – I have even tracked down Anheiser-Busch distributors ahead of my travels for specific party stores that carry Redbridge, then let the place I am staying at know they can either order it from their A-B distributor, or ask them to pick some up for me at that party store prior to my arrival.

  8. I second the thumbs up on Omission Beer. Check the website for availability. I live in the southeast part of the country and it’s available here. I thought I would never drink delicious beer again. A true game changer….

  9. OMission and Daura are in my fridge now. Just found them and they’re good. Of the “naturally” gluten free beers, the best in my mind is Bard’s. With the malting of the sorghum, my first thought in drinking it was “Wow, this really tastes like beer!” Surprisingly, the next best would be Red Bridge. I’ve had New Planet and New Grist, and they taste a little sour for me. I’m surprised to say that people like them. I’ll drink them if there’s nothing else available, but I wouldn’t go out of my way for them.

    As for ciders, I’m loving Angry Orchard Ginger Peach Cider. Also Woodchuck’s Pear Cider (as I understand the appropriate name for this would be Peary) is great. Original Sin is also a favorite, and I’ve found the dry English Ciders to be good too. Very different flavor than American “sweet” ciders. Almost more like champagne.

  10. I LOVE Green’s. I think it’s the best tasting (especially the Double Ale) but was looking for something less pricey with a reasonable alcohol content (unlike Redbridge). Omission fits the bill for both. It’s a little different from ‘regular’ beer, but life without gluten is both delicious and rewarding. Ask your grocer to carry it.

  11. I have an associate who is Celiac and he swears Budweiser and Bud Light are gluten free?? He drinks them often with no effects. How is this possible?

  12. PS I love ALL ciders – they are a nice way to have a “beer” when everyone else is doing the same (instead of hard liquor or wine) – at a football game for instance.

  13. Many months ago, I did a blind taste test with several non-GF friends and my Mom. I really hope to get it up on my blog one of these days! I was the only one who knew what was being tasted. I had 1 non GF beer in there to see if they could tell the difference (since none of them had to be GF, it was a safe test).

    The non-GF beer, Rolling Rock, ultimately, was the favorite — but even knowing that there was a non-GF beer in the line-up, none of them identified it as such.

    Rolling Rock aside, they sampled 3 GF beers. New Grist, Bard’s, and Redbridge. New Grist came in first across the board. I sampled each of the GF beers behind the scenes, and agreed with their assessment.

    Aside from ciders, those are the only GF beers I can find in my area. I’m not a big fan of beer, but my fiancee likes it now and then, so it’s great to be able to have a safe variety in the house that she can have (she’s not GF, but the house is for my safety) and I don’t have to worry about it. Plus, there are some dishes that beer makes a great addition to (like fondue!).

    We were in NYC last month to see family, and went to Risotteria. They had some GF beers I had never heard of, but wasn’t up for paying over $8 for one bottle just so I could try it.

    I liked New Grist because it had a slightly sweeter taste than Redbridge (my 2nd favorite of the 3) and Bard’s (no one liked it, too metallic-tasting!). I think it was the addition of the rice that did this.

    For people who have had the opportunity to try other GF beers, which ones would you say are comparable to (or better than) New Grist? (Still a beer taste but with a hint of sweet.)

  14. Sharon, Sapporo isn’t gluten free. It’s made with Rice instead of wheat, but still contains barley. As with most breweries, they claim that the gluten doesn’t survive the brewing process, but my intestinal tract disagrees. It is *NOT* celiac safe, though it may be ok for people who are sensitive specifically to gliadin.

    The real issue is that the tests are usually sensitive to gliadin (the gluten in wheat) and not hordein (the gluten in barley). So it may even test as “gluten free”, but more accurately is only “gliadin free” and may have other related glycoproteins that are problematic.

  15. OMission Pale Ale is the best, closely followed by Estrella Daura and Two Brothers Prairie Path. They are all made of barley, brewed using an enzyme that breaks down gluten, and testing at less than 6ppm. They are “real” beer.

    While sorghum-based “beers” may be OK to quickly wash down a taco or something, they do not stand up to the true test of any beer – drink a number of them over the course of time and tell me that the last taste of the last bottle is as good as the first taste of the first. I’ve tried them all and that last sorghumy taste is hard to get down. The only buckwheat one I’ve tried didn’t fare any better.

    Certainly, not all barley beers pass this test but most do much better than sorghum ones. OMission and Daura pass with flying colors. In fact the last dregs, all warmed up to room temp, actually taste better than the first. Just like the best in the world. For their styles they are near the top of the heap.

    And maybe more importantly, at least for me, sorghum results in a very unpleasant “high”. The intoxicating effects are different from real beer, much like is the case with wine or tequila. Real beer makes me feel pretty good. Sorghum “beer” makes me feel dull, lethargic, and not too happy. I yawn a lot too. Wine or tequila are a lot better.

    P.S. What I really hate is going into an establishment and asking for a GF beer and they say “we have cider”.

  16. I am a huge Hard Cider fan! Try different brands whenever possible & have a notebook in my Evernote to keep track of my favorites. Occasionally will indulge in GF Beer. Dogfish Head makes “Tweason’ale”. A GF sorghum based ale brewed with strawberries & buckwheat honey. What a delicious craft brew!!!

  17. @BySharon – Yes Sapporo is a rice beer, but it is NOT gluten free. Check their website under “Our Beers”. There is a disclaimer for each beer (i.e, *Sapporo Premium is not a gluten-free product”.)

    Thanks all for the info on other gf beers! I didn’t know much beyond Redbridge, so cant wait to try them!

  18. I too was a beer snob, pre-celiac. You can say the sorghum, buckwheat, millet and other non-barley based beers are good, but the fact is: they taste like crap. You’ve simply forgotten (blessedly) what a real beer tastes like and you fortunately deluded yourself. I’m cursed with an indelible memory for beer and I cannot forget the sheer, heavenly joy of a properly made extra special bitter.

    The Greenes beers have much of the real taste, but lack any viscosity, or mouth-feel. They are watery and it detracts significantly from the experience. The New Planet pale ale came closest, or perhaps I’d drunk too much already and contented myself with a lie. I had one called Shakparo, which should be outlawed to sell and its maker hung for foisting this nearly poisonous, strained dishwater off on an innocent public. It will kill weeds in the fence row; I tested it.

  19. I have to say that I tend to prefer cider now (particularly in the summer!) but I’ve tried a few nice GF beers. Found St.Peters to be pretty decent, lovely bottles too. Not cheap though!

  20. I think St Peter’s Brewery is the best. They have just introduced a 2nd G Free beer to their range which is just as nice. Adding a bit to gravy also works well as I have not yet found a Gluten Free gravy I really like, a bit of cornflour, water, Gluten Free soy sauce, St Peter’s GFree beer and cooked with sausages Yum…

  21. try Brunehaut belgian amber and blonde from Belgium. both are gluten free (<5ppm, ellissa r 5 test) and taste like beer because they are beer having been made with barley. both are also organic and vegan.

  22. Prairie Path Golden Ale by Two Brothers, Warrenville, IL has barley and claims to be crafted to remove gluten. I’ve had 3 so far, no issues. The first one tasted a little strong/strange the second one went down much smoother.

  23. i want to reiterate what john said above. some of these barley-based beers that claim to remove the gluten after brewing may be suffering the fate of certain tests not showing gluten when it’s suspended in liquid. here’s an article that links to the journal paper describing low gluten beers that tested as high as regular beers for gluten –


    it explained to me why daura always gave me a reaction even though it’s supposedly gluten free. sorry to be a buzzkill (literally) but i’ve started sticking to naturally gluten free beers and new grist and st peter’s are both excellent.

  24. Kelly says, “[…] You’ve simply forgotten (blessedly) what a real beer tastes like and you fortunately deluded yourself. […]”

    Kelly, I couldn’t agree more! (Same about New Planet’s OGPA being the best version so far. My attempt at brewing something similar is sufferable, and certainly better than at least half the gf “beers” I’ve had.)

    Anyway, your post really cracked me up – thanks for writing. Do you have a blog or website?

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