Gluten Free Doesn’t Always Mean Being The Designated Driver.

 Galileo once said “Wine is sunlight, held together by water.”
What types of alcoholic beverages are Gluten Free?

I am often asked by those who have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease or Gluten Sensitivities what types of alcoholic beverages are safe to consume.  There are plenty of options, but one thing to keep in mind is that alcohol can be inflammatory to your system. When first diagnosed it’s best to avoid alcohol and give your body time to heal.  Always check with your Doctor to determine if the consumption of alcohol is appropriate, or if it is contraindicated with medications you might be taking.

For gluten intolerant individuals who would like to partake in a libation from time to time, things have changed.  In the past those with Celiac Disease were told to avoid all alcohol that had been derived from grain, i.e., Whiskey, Rye, Scotch and certain Vodkas.  Today the overwhelming opinion is that grain alcohols are safe for those with Celiac Disease because gluten doesn’t survive the distillation process.   Distillation is simply the process of purifying a liquid, first by heating it to the point that it vaporizes, and then by cooling and condensing the vapor.  The final step of the distillation process collects the resulting liquids.  The thought is that distilled alcohol does not contain prolamines (the protein component of grains that causes reactions for those who are gluten intolerant).

Many people with gluten intolerance (myself included) do react badly to grain alcohols even though they have been distilled, and for those people grain alcohols should be avoided.  A safer bet would be to select alcohols that are not derived from grains such as Tequila (made from the agave cactus), White Rum (made sugar cane), Vodka (made from potatoes), and Wine or Champagne (made from grapes).  Other spirits made without grains that are well tolerated by those with Celiac include Brandy, Mead, Hard Cider (read labels carefully to ensure the cider is made without artificial colors or flavorings), Sherry, and Port.  Please Note:  the majority of wine coolers would not be included in the safe list as they are typically not distilled and are made from barley products.  Also Godiva products do contain gluten as do Smirnoff FMB’s, Twisted V, and Smirnoff Ice, these should be avoided.

Mixers:  The following mixers were confirmed to be free from gluten, however it is always best to read the labels since manufacturers change their formulations and suppliers frequently.  You can also contact the company if you have questions about any of their products.

Master of Mixes Brand: Tom Collins, Whiskey Sour, Strawberry Daiquiri, Sweet & Sour Mixer, and Margarita Mix

Clamato Brand:  Tomato Cocktail (Contains Vinegar, avoid if sensitive)

Jose Quervo Brand:  Margarita Mix and All Jose Cuervo Blenders

Coco Casa and Coco Lopez Brands:  Cream of Coconut

TGI Friday’s Brand:  On The Rocks, Long Island Ice Tea, Margarita, Mudslide, Pina Colada, and Strawberry Daiquiri.

TGI Friday’s Club Cocktails including:  Gin Martini, Manhattan, Screwdriver, Vodka Martini, and Whiskey Sour mix.

Gluten Free Beer:
Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying “Beer is proof that God loves us”.  Unfortunately, those who have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease or have Gluten Sensitivities know that Beer does not love us; instead it can make us violently ill!  Beer is typically made from barley or wheat that has not been distilled, so it still contains much of the original gluten.  There is good news for gluten free beer lovers; more gluten free beers are on the market than ever before.   Gluten free beers may still be difficult to find, but you can often special-order these brews from stores, or order them on-line.  Many of the beers mentioned below can also be ordered directly from the brewery websites, or the brewery can direct you to a local distributor.  Beer connoisseurs may also want to review the information on the website.  This site is dedicated to gluten free beer and contains detailed information, including tasting notes.  A special note for my grain free friends; Ramapo Valley Brewery has you covered.  Their Honey Beer is made from Fermented Honey and Molasses…no grains, and it is produced on dedicated equipment!!!

The list below is not complete; however, it contains some of the most popular and most accessible gluten free beers.

Anheuser-Busch, Inc. produces a gluten free beer called Redbridge.  This beer is brewed from sorghum.

Bard’s Tale Beer Company, LLC.  Producers of a Sorghum Malt Beer, sometimes known as Dragon’s Gold Lager, ingredients include sorghum, yeast, hops, and water (no wheat, oats, rye, or barley).

Green’s Gluten Free Beers, A U.K. company making beer from millet, buckwheat, sorghum, and rice.  Their beers include:  Mission, Quest, Tripel Blonde, Pathfinder, Discovery, Endeavour, Herald, Pioneer, and Trailblazer.

Lakefront Brewery, New Grist Beer contains sorghum, hops, gluten-free yeast grown on molasses, rice, and water.

Les Bières de la Nouvelle-France, is a Quebec microbrewery that started to create gluten free beers when challenged by the Quebec Celiac Foundation in 2001.  Today this microbrewery creates 2 gluten free beers and sells more Gluten Free beer than Gluten containing beer.  Their gluten free beers are La Messagère – pale golden ale, and

La Messagère Red Ale – an ale made from rice and buckwheat.

Ramapo Valley Brewery: produces a Passover Honey Beer that is brewed from honey and flavored with molasses.  This beer is not only gluten-free but kosher for Passover.

As you can see options abound for the gluten intolerant when it comes to spirits.  Just remember to read those labels before you raise your glass.  In Vino Veritas!


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