Beer traditionally uses wheat, barley, or rye as the base ingredients. This makes it a poor choice for anyone who’s even a little gluten sensitive. You can’t simply swap beer types either, as lagers and ales both rely on gluten-based ingredients.
You need to find specialized gluten free products instead. Now, the very best gluten free beer is made in a gluten free brewery and avoids all gluten containing ingredients. Grains like sorghum and millet are used instead of wheat to make the beer.
Other brands produce both gluten free and regular beer. This approach increases the risk of cross-contamination, so the beers might be an issue if you’re highly sensitive. Still, most companies focus on reducing contamination risk as much as possible.
While this list focuses on the beers most widely available in the United States, you’ll notice quite a few craft beer breweries on the list as well. That’s because true gluten free beer isn’t as common as you might expect. Plus, many of the best companies have a limited distribution network.
Some big brands made gluten free beer at one point and then stopped, probably because of the expense (as gluten free beer needs to be made on separate equipment from regular beer). Other companies focus on gluten reduced or gluten removed beer instead, which isn’t quite the same.
Best Gluten Free Beer
Redbridge Gluten Free Lager
Redbridge may be the most familiar gluten free beer on this list, as Anheuser-Busch has a wide distribution network. This allows the beer to be found throughout the United States.
The beer itself is classified as a lager and made using sorghum as the base grain. You’ll mostly see it sold in a 6-pack of 12-ounce bottles.
While sorghum is the main grain, it doesn’t dominate the flavor profile. Instead, the beer tends to be sweet and smooth, making it easy to enjoy. While this isn’t the most exciting or unusual beer on the market, it is familiar and appeals to many beer lovers.
In fact, this lager consistently receives positive reviews. Even when the beer doesn’t make people excited, most reviewers don’t have much to complain about either.
Glutenberg takes a very different approach to Anheuser-Busch. Rather than offering a single gluten free beer, they have a collection of beers.
In fact, their entire operation is gluten free. This means there’s no risk of cross-contamination and the company can experiment with making some unique and exciting beers.
Their product line currently includes the following beers.
- Glutenberg Blonde: A blonde beer made using millet and corn, with a 4.5% ABV.
- Glutenberg IPA. An IPA made using millet, buckwheat, corn, and black rice, with an ABV of 6%.
- Glutenberg Session IPA. Not surprisingly, this expression has a lower ABV than the regular IPA, while retaining many of the same flavors
- Glutenberg Double IPA. With an ABV of 7%, this is Glutenberg’s strongest beer. It’s a fruity IPA, with flavors of orange and pineapple.
- Glutenberg Pale Ale. An American pale ale with an ABV of 5.5%. It has been made using millet, buckwheat, corn, and quinoa as the grains.
- Glutenberg Red. This time we’re looking at a red ale with a 5% ABV. Buckwheat and millet are the main ingredients this time, along with some interesting other additions.
- Glutenberg Blanche. This is also called Glutenberg White and is inspired by Witbier beer. It has a spiced flavor profile, along with plenty of floral notes.
- Glutenberg Stout. This stout comes in at 5% ABV and includes notes of cocoa bean, espresso, and ripe fruit. Millet and corn are the main ingredients, with cocoa nibs and coffee also featuring.
Glutenberg is a Canadian brand, so it isn’t as widely distributed as Redbridge in the United States. Still, the variety of expressions makes the company well worth trying. Plus, Glutenberg regularly exports to the United States and has many American distributors.
Lakefront Brewery is a versatile company with many different beers. Today, we’re just focused on two of them – New Grist and La Gosa Rita.
New Grist will be the most familiar, as it is a gluten free pilsner style beer (note – this in the style of pilsner, rather than actually being a pilsner). It has an ABV of 4.7% and includes sorghum, rice, and malted millet as the main grains. These ingredients create a light and refresing session beer that’s easy to enjoy.
La Gosa Rita takes a different approach. The beer is reminiscent of a margarita and features flavors of orange, agave, lime, and sea salt. It’s the perfect treat for anyone who loves margarita flavors and doesn’t enjoy tequila
These beers truly are excellent. The main limitation is that Lakefront Brewery doesn’t specialize in gluten free beers, so there’s some risk of cross-contamination.
Bard’s Original Sorghum Malt Beer
Bard’s offers just one product, their Original Sorghum Malt Beer. The company was developed by Craig, who was diagnosed with celiac disease. He didn’t like most alternative options out there, so decided to develop his own gluten free beer.
The big difference is that Bard’s is made using entirely malted sorghum. Most companies include other types of grain in the mix as well.
This is a popular expression, but best suited to people who enjoy light beer. Bard’s is a poor choice for anyone who wants flavor complexity.
Green’s Gluten Free Beers
While Green’s Gluten Free Beers is a UK-based company, they have American importers, so you can find the beers in the United States as well. The beers rely on sorghum, millet, buckwheat, rice, hops, yeast, and water, so they’re always gluten free.
There are also plenty of styles to choose from, including Amber Ale, Quest Tripel Ale, Endeavour Dubbel Ale, Enterprise Dry-Hopped Lager, and India Pale Ale. This selection is fantastic if you find lagers a little boring or if you enjoy experimenting.
New Planet Beer
New Planet Beer was founded in Boulder, Colorado after the founder found that he had celiac disease. The beer was a natural result of this diagnosis and a way for celiacs to enjoy beer without concern for their health.
The company currently has two beers: Pale and Blonde. The Blonde version is crisp and refreshing, with a 4.8% ABV. The Pale features stronger hop and citrus flavors, with an ABV of 6%.
The beer is distributed in a variety of states, including Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, and others. Drizly and TapRm both stock the beers too, allowing to order them online.
Ghostfish Brewing doesn’t just offer gluten free beer. Rather, they offer unusual and exceptional gluten free beer, including flavor profiles you won’t see elsewhere. As such, Ghostfish Brewing is perfect if you feel like you’ve missed out on the craft beer scene.
Their selection includes a variety of interesting IPAs, blonde ale, stout, witbier, and more. There are also seasonal releases. Some of these are designed to push the boundaries of different beer styles and create some truly exciting expressions.
Their Grapefruit IPA is one of the most popular. This has an ABV of 5.5% and features an interesting balance of bitterness and grapefruit notes. It’s an ideal place to begin sampling Ghostfish’s selection.
Holidaily Gluten Free Beers
Holidaily Brewing is another company that keeps everything gluten free. Gluten containing ingredients never enter their facility, which eliminates any risk of cross-contamination.
Their canned beer selection includes Favorite Blonde Ale, Fat Randy’s IPA, Big Henry (a hazy IPA), Riva Stout, Patchy Waters (a pumpkin pie seasonal beer), and Buckwit Belgian. Other beers are sold on tap from the company’s tap room.
Holidaily Brewery operates out of Golden, Colorado, but their canned beers are also distributed in other states, including California, Arizona, and Texas. This isn’t a wide distribution network, as they only offer beers in six states currently. Hopefully their network increases over time.
Alt Brew Beers
Alt Brew considers itself a nanobrewery, operating out of east Madison, Wisconsin. The nanobrewery style means that distribution is fairly limited. In fact, the beers are only distributed to some areas in Wisconsin, rather than further afield. Still, if you can find Alt Brew beers, they’re certainly delicious.
This is another gluten free specialty company, so there are various expressions to choose from. Their collection includes stouts, blonde ales, and double hopped IPAs. Some are available on tap only, while others are bottled and distributed.
Ground Breaker Brewing
Ground Breaker Brewing is another small gluten free facility. They opened in 2011 and are proud to offer a variety of beers, all of which are gluten free. You’ll see familiar styles here, including sours, ales, lagers, and IPAs.
For such a small distillery, Ground Breaker has a surprisingly impressive distribution. They’re represented in more than a dozen states, plus Canada. This is a particularly good company in the Bay Area, as you’ll often find their beers on tap.
Aurochs Gluten Free Beers
The Aurochs gluten free distillery is located in Pennsylvania. Like many, it was born out of necessity, as the two founders were sensitive to gluten and still wanted to enjoy beer. Crafting their own beer allowed the founders to ensure their gluten free beer tasted exactly as they wanted it to.
Because the entire brewery is gluten free, there are multiple gluten free expressions. These include Aurochs Blonde Ale, Light Lager, Hazi IPA, Session IPA, Amber Ale, Porter, Hefe, and seasonal Pumpkin Ale. That’s a decent selection and many of the beers are well-reviewed.
Bierly Brewing is a dedicated gluten free facility that also sells some delicious food locally. The company starts with gluten free ingredients, so there’s no risk of contamination. Instead of wheat, Bierly Brewing relies on familiar ingredients, including sorghum, buckwheat, rice, and millet.
Their flagship releases include Felix Pilsner (4.3% ABV), Lucky IPA (5.5% ABV), Blackbird Stout (6.2% ABV), and Rendezvous Double IPA (7.3% ABV). There are also seasonal releases.
The company’s small distribution network means their beers can only be found in Washington and Oregon. Still, the beers are stocked at a decent number of stores in these states, so local shoppers may get lucky.
Gluten Reduced And Gluten Removed Beers
So far, we’ve been talking about completely gluten free beers, ones that don’t use gluten containing ingredients at all. But, there are also gluten reduced and gluten removed beers.
These typically start with regular grains like barley or wheat, then go through a process that breaks down the gluten. Some of these beers may even be marketed as being gluten free.
Yet, despite the hype, the gluten removal process has serious limitations.
The problem is that the process breaks the gluten down into very small particles without getting rid of it entirely. Doing so should stop the body from reacting to the gluten too. That’s just a theory though.
There’s a decent chance that the human body still reacts to fragments of gluten, especially for people with celiac disease. Besides, testing for gluten is notoriously difficult, so some products mightn’t be as low in gluten as they seem.
Such issues mean that authentic gluten free beers are always the safest choice. Still… if you’re interested in trying gluten reduced or gluten removed beers, here are some of the most popular.
Stone Delicious IPA
Most of the releases from Stone Brewing aren’t gluten free at all. The company just focuses on regular beer, including many of the styles and flavors you might expect.
Their Stone Delicious IPA is the exception to that rule, as this is a gluten reduced beer. This beer is carefully crafted to have a gluten content of less than 20 ppm gluten. The gluten level is achieved by an enzyme called Clarex, which breaks apart the gluten chains.
While the beer still contains gluten and gluten fragments, it might work for people with mild gluten sensitivity. The beer should also taste more like conventional beers, as it still relies on barley. It’s also distributed nationwide, so it’s easier to find than many truly gluten free beers.
Omission once offered bottles of gluten removed beer, where enzymes were used to breaks down as much gluten as possible. Those beers were popular and received excellent reviews, but they’re not available now.
The current product line from Omission are all tagged as gluten reduced, rather than gluten removed. They still use the Clarex enzyme and are tested for their gluten level, but there’s now no claim that they’re truly gluten free. The flavor profile may have changed from the original gluten removed beers as well.
Interestingly, you can access the company’s gluten test results on their website. This even includes details about the batch number and the date of testing.
Two Brothers Prairie Path Golden Ale
Finally, we have Two Brothers Brewing, which is an Illinois-based craft brewing company. They’ve produced some truly spectacular craft beers since their very first brews.
While most of their beers contain regular amounts of gluten, they do offer gluten removed Prairie Path Golden Ale. This is a light colored beer with a slightly sweet flavor and an ABV of 5.1%. Two Brothers distributes to 13 states, so you might just be able to find the beer locally.
Is Light Beer Gluten Free?
Despite popular belief, light beers, like Corona Light, Bud Light, and Coors Light, aren’t gluten free. They’re still made using gluten containing grains and there often aren’t even attempts to reduce the gluten content.
At best, light beers are lower in gluten, simply because they’re watered down. Because of this, most people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should avoid these beers. It’s much better to stick to one of the specialized gluten free beers instead.