Fussy Fad Or Future Trend? – Gluten Free Beer

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We have all noticed the ever growing aisle of the supermarket dedicated to ‘free from’ breads, cereals, cakes, pasta and beer in recent years. It started off as a corner section and is now encroaching the size of the alcohol aisle. Celiacs disease is an intolerance of products containing the protein gluten. The proportion of the population now avoiding gluten has reached 1 in 10 and sales in ‘free from’ foods increased 27% in the last year.

Gluten is also a common protein found in almost all grains such as barley, rye and oats which, as a brewer, are the ‘bread’ and butter of the industry. This has meant a restriction to wines and ciders for the celiac population until recently as gluten free beers have become more widely available. The gluten free beers may be good for more than just celiacs, with health benefits such as lower cholesterol and fat levels.

It appears that the consumer has clocked on with an ever increasing market for gluten free beer and it is a market segment many breweries have capitalised on, both big and small, with a predicted double digit growth in the next five years. It is likely to see similar growth and uptake as non-alcoholic beer, which is widely available in the majority of shops and pubs. There are several grains that do not contain gluten – namely corn, rice, and quinoa, among many others. These can be used instead of grains that contain the gluten protein but the taste can be widely different from what non-celiac types are used to.

There is, however, another option. Enzymes such as Brewers Clarex® can be used to break down the gluten protein chains in beers made with the traditional grains. What’s more, there is no impact on the taste, appearance or quality of the beer. This gives brewers the ability to make great tasting beers they are used to and target that aisle that 9 in 10 don’t ever wander down on the weekly shop.

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