Gluten Free Beer

A key ingredient to beer is barley which, as a cereal, contains gluten.  Here at the Driftwood Spars we have quite a few regular customers who are coeliac or intolerant to gluten which got us thinking – what if we could make a gluten free beer for them to enjoy? 

Pete the Brewer loves a challenge.  In 2016 he contacted all our malt suppliers to see if there is something that we could brew with that was gluten free.  Sorghum, which is a grass and contains no gluten, was the answer.  From this he produced Unexpected, a delicious light pale ale which won an international ‘Free From’ award in 2018.

But however delicious Unexpected might be, having just one Gluten free beer available didn’t give our customers much choice. Then we happened on a solution. At a lecture given by Charlie ‘bubbles’ Bamforth (a Lancashire man, and brewing professor at the University of California) he talked about an enzyme called Clarex which many brewers were using to prevent haze in beer. As a casual aside, he happened to mention that it also stripped out the gluten in beer.

After a little investigation, Pete started experimenting with this. It turned out that Clarex could be added to any beer and it strips out the gluten, while keeping the flavour of a regular beer.  It’s been so successful that all our beers are now gluten free and customers who haven’t drunk beer for years can finally enjoy a pint of their favourite ale. 

All gluten free beer does have to be tested before it can be advertised as such, so out of every batch we make we ship a bottle to a research lab for it to be tested. Here at the Driftwood Spars pub we do also serve cask beer that is gluten free as we have 3 designated lines for it. We wouldn’t be able to guarantee it in other pubs as it depends on the publican doing a line clean to ensure there is no residual gluten left from the previous beer.

St Peter’s Brewery in Suffolk was the first we heard about who were brewing gluten free beer, making a dark ale and a pilsner style beer. Other breweries, such as Wiltshire’s Hopback and Greens in Manchester, have also specialised in a gluten free range for some years.

With the recent publicity about Clarex, we are now hearing of other breweries making gluten free beer, so look out for them in 2019. So, no matter what style of beer you like you will be able to find a gluten free beer to suit your taste buds.