Gluten and Coeliac Info

Is there gluten in beer?
Traditional beers are produced using varying quantities of barley malt which is dried, germinated barley. This does not apply to the very limited range of beers produced to be free of ‘gluten’ and which are marked to that or similar effect.

In the brewing process, malt is solubilised in hot water as fermentable sugars.

Only part of the malt protein is solubilised and in the subsequent boiling of the extract, much is degraded. Later steps in the brewing process also reduce the amount of malt protein found in beer. However some protein is essential for beer quality, particularly for beer presentation since the beer foam would be extremely poor without the protein.

In addition some beers are produced using a proportion of sugar syrups made wheat i.e. wheat flour from which most of the gluten has been removed. The processing of this starch to produce the syrups used in brewing may result in a small contribution of gluten to beer.

Some beers also contain small amounts of caramel colour, which may be produced from wheat starch.

When traditional beers are tested by current test methods, only very low levels of gluten are detected.  However there is currently some concern over the reliability of the method used to test foods containing malt and it may not detect all the gluten-like materials contributed to beer by malt.

Wheat beers are distinct products representing only a small proportion of the beer market and are generally labelled as such. Wheat malt is a significant ingredient, and some wheat gluten might be expected to be extracted during the mixing of the milled grain with hot water. Using current testing methods, these beers show the presence of low levels of gluten.

What about cider?
All our cider is gluten free! There is no gluten in fresh fruit which is what we use to create our Monteith’s  and Johnny Arrow cider ranges.

Are people with Coeliac disease able to drink traditional beer?
People with coeliac disease are recommended to observe a life-long gluten-free diet.
Expert advice from coeliac support groups and gastronenterology institutes generally recommend that beer should be avoided.

Some people with coeliac disease may drink beer in moderation with no noticeable immediate ill effects but it is nonetheless likely that long term damage to the small bowel may occur. There is no long-term correlation between symptoms and bowel damage. To consume beer therefore is a personal choice after consideration of the risks and professional health advice.

What is gluten?
Gluten is a generic name for certain types of proteins contained in the cereal grains such as wheat, rye, triticale, barley and oats and derivatives from these.

What is Coeliac disease?
A life-long dietary intolerance to gluten resulting in damage to the lining of the small bowel which means food is not absorbed properly. Even small amounts of gluten in foods may affect those with coeliac disease resulting in health problems. Damage can occur to the small bowel even in the absence of symptoms.

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