Gluten intolerance manifests itself in a variety of diseases, including celiac disease. It prohibits sufferers from enjoying the finest food and drink. Luckily, beer doesn't have to be on this list.
Whether gluten intolerance is becoming more prevalent or everyone suffers from it to some extent, awareness is definitely increasing. The good news is that gluten-free beers are readily available. The bad news is that choices are fairly limited.
Anything less than 20 parts per million of gluten is safe to drink for someone who is intolerant. Some gluten-free beers are made from buckwheat, some are made from sorghum, or any combination of sorghum, rice millet, and buckwheat.
Buckwheat is more akin to rhubarb than to wheat. It can be used like barley to produce a malt for making beer, but without the gluten.
Sorghum is a species of grain-producing grass that is cultivated in warmer climates throughout the world and is a staple for many poor families in these regions. Sorghum halepense, or Johnsongrass, is classified as an invasive species by the United States Department of Agriculture. It just so happens that it also makes a tasty beer.
3. Sorghum and Rice
Just like the above example, Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee brews New Grist, a smooth-tasting beer made with sorghum and rice. Brewers use rice in their beer to lighten the body and give it a smoother and crisper flavor. Maybe that's why up to 30 percent of Budweiser beer is made from rice (corn too).
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2. Sorghum, Rice, Millet, and Buckwheat
A species of small seed-producing grass that is grown as a food source in semi-arid tropical climates, millet is typically mixed with sorghum and rice when it comes to beer. Some types of millet are grown for bird seed. But don't go digging through the bird feeder looking for brewing ingredients.
Yes, it's true -- ciders are gluten-free because they are made with apples. American colonists drank cider with their meals because water was often unsafe to consume. Although technically not considered a beer but a fruit wine, a cider is typically stocked with beer at stores. Nevertheless, ciders are delicious, and a cold one right now would probably make your day a bit better.
Virtually all liquor stores that stock beer also stock at least a brand or two of gluten-free beer. Beer superstores such as Total Wine and More and Sunset Corners Fine Wine and Spirits have a few brands. Options for the gluten-intolerant are extremely limited, but that will likely change once more craft brewers become aware of gluten sensitivity.