There's no chance of hiding from gluten these days, as it's made its way even to the holy of holies – the non-alcoholic beverages space. But what is gluten, how is it used in drinks and why is everyone annoyed with it?
Gluten is an insoluble protein composite made up of two proteins called gliadin and glutenin, and it is found in certain grains, particularly wheat, rye, and barley. Undoubtedly, there are many pros to gluten — it’s responsible for the elastic consistency of dough and the chewiness of food made from wheat flour, like bread and pasta. Many alcohol beverages and their NA alternatives are gluten-based too, because drinks like lager and stout beer are made from grains. Unfortunately, in some people, gluten can cause or exacerbate such unpleasant conditions as wheat allergy, celiac disease, and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, also known as wheat intolerance. Let’s take a closer look at them.
Wheat allergy is a condition that occurs when one’s immune system gives an allergic response to wheat proteins. Leading to mild problems like watery eyes, runny nose, and hives, and in rare cases to a dangerous reaction called anaphylaxis.
Celiac disease is an inherited disease in which eating foods with gluten leads to inflammation and damage of the small intestine, which causes problems like belly pain, bloating, skin rash, iron deficiency, and depression among others.
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity, or wheat intolerance
Lastly, when people don’t have the wheat allergy or the celiac disease but still experience symptoms when they eat foods with gluten, they have what’s called non-celiac gluten sensitivity, or wheat intolerance. In that case, people experience painful gut symptoms and suffer from fatigue, brain fog, joint pain or skin rash.
The answer to all of those problems is a gluten-free diet; however, given such a wide variety of beverages coming to the market with their complex recipes as well as classified production methods, you sometimes have to play a guessing game consuming new drinks at your own risk. To help you avoid any confusion, we’ve rounded up a list of gluten-free drinks that would be a safe сhoice for people looking for gluten-free options, no matter why.
Every great beer starts with the same basic recipe — water, hops, yeast, and a starch, like barley or wheat, which is where the gluten normally comes from.
A true brew also relies on yeast and starch to ferment properly. While non-alcoholic beer is often made without any fermentation in order to avoid alcoholization, Grüvi lager their beer for 6 weeks. This allows the yeast to create a full-bodied flavor while staying below the 0.5% ABV threshold. While there are some brews out there that contain zero gluten from start to finish, many of the best tasting options are “gluten reduced,” meaning they contain minimal gluten (a small enough amount to fall under the celiac threshold).
Starch is a necessary component of the fermentation process, which makes it challenging to create a gf beer that still tastes like the real deal. We love Grüvi's gluten-reduced IPA: while it's not gluten-free certified, it has less than 20 parts per million of gluten (the celiac threshold).
Although wine, which is made from red and white grapes, is naturally gluten-free to begin with, gluten is typically used at a later stage of manufacturing. In wine, gluten serves as a fining agent – a material that clarifies the liquid and balances the tannins in it. Most wine producers make aged wine in oak barrels and use gluten during the fining stage, which is problematic for those with allergies.
If you have celiac disease or wheat intolerance, it’s essential to make sure no gluten was used throughout a manufacturer’s process. Wines can be labeled gluten-free if their gluten content is 20 parts per million or less.
Surely takes pride in making their wine a part of a healthy lifestyle, creating a product that will not compromise your health goals. To provide an alternative option for all lifestyles, their wines are gluten-free, vegan, and some of them are also keto-friendly.
A tip: most vegan wines are also gluten-free. Vegan wine fining agents such as clay, limestone, and silica gel are safe for those suffering from any wheat-related conditions. So when in doubt, go for a vegan wine – it’ll Surely be gluten-free.
Spirits can generally be considered a safer option in our case, as it is easier to find gluten free liquor than it is wine or beer because liquor is distilled, rather than fermented or brewed.
Some liquors, like vodka or tequila, don’t make use of gluten ingredients at any point throughout the production process. This makes it easy to find drinks matching your dietary needs.
Pure, distilled mezcal is considered gluten-free, as it is made from the agave plant. However, beware hidden gluten in mezcal brands that is sometimes used to add flavorings or other additives after distillation. With our Monday Mezcal, Free of Alcohol and Full of Spirit, which boasts earthy roasted agave flavor, prominent smoke and well-rounded heat, you can be sure that no unnecessary ingredients were used, as it is vegan, gluten-free, and keto-friendly.
With a plethora of ingredients typically used in cocktails, they can be rather tricky for those looking for gluten-free options. But with the Southside Non-Alcoholic Cocktail from Blind Tiger, you won't have to compromise on the complexity of the drink to stay healthy.
Made of all-natural, organic ingredients, this cocktail will allow you to enjoy its refreshing mint and lime blend with hints of juniper without consequences, so enjoy and drink it up!
If you're mixing up cocktails yourself, you have to carefully check each one of the ingredients you put in it. Our Grapefruit Vanilla Shrub by Element checks off all the healthy lifestyle boxes – it’s naturally vegan and gluten-free.
Pair it with your gluten-free liquor of choice, be it gin, tequila, or vodka, add rosemary, blackberries and black pepper and enjoy your drink with plenty of rich vanilla notes and... zero trace of gluten.