Beer Woes on a Gluten-Free Diet

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Good evening folks! Thank you all so much for sharing your beer knowledge with me in yesterday’s post! A number of you confirmed my theory that dark beer had less gluten and therefore would upset my stomach less. And a few of you pointed out that wheat beers/hefeweizens had the most gluten and that would make sense why those bother me. (But those are the beeesssssttttt, said in my whiniest voice.)

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And a couple of you asked why I drink beer when I follow an otherwise gluten-free diet. The answer is, well, it’s one of my “cheats” that was always worth it to me. In the past, I would get kind of bloated and I’d get a bit of a headache from beer, but nothing to the level that I get from a big ol’ loaf of bread or a flaky pastry. The discomfort wasn’t enough to make me stay away from beer entirely so I just dealt with it so I could still indulge in beer. (You can read my post  last summer about drinking beer on a gluten-free diet.) Also, I’m a relatively new beer drinker (in case you couldn’t tell by my first paragraph above. Insert, UM DUH TERI, OF COURSE WHEAT AND HEFEWEIZEN BEERS HAVE THE MOST GLUTEN, comment here 🙂 ) and I had just really started to enjoy beer and had started branching out more with my selections.

Unfortunately, the past 3 times I’ve had beer, which were all wheat beers, (excluding the most recent Breakfast Stout), I’ve felt terrible. So bad that I couldn’t even finish my beer. Half a glass gave me terrible bloating, headaches and stomach aches 10x worse than anything I’d experienced with a full glass of beer in the past . I have no idea what’s changed but it’s to the point where I’m noticing it and it’s not worth the “cheat.”  

I’m not a huge fan of the gluten-free beers I’ve tried.  I mean, they’re fine, but they just taste like a beer. Just beer. Nothing really special to me. And I’m not that much of a beer lover yet that I’d grab one of those. (Maybe my tune will change when it’s 95 degrees out.) You can read which gluten-free beers John likes in this post. (He has celiac and cannot tolerate regular beer at all.)

As always, thanks for your suggestions on beers that may sit with me better! I didn’t even know filtered vs. non-filtered beers existed, and I’ll definitely start asking my bartender (and local beer shop) about the grain bill. All new terminology for me! 

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    17 responses to “Beer Woes on a Gluten-Free Diet”

    1. My stepfather found out that he had Celiac in his 50s and giving up beer was the hardest part for him. He had been someone who planned vacations around visiting his favorite breweries. We recently tried a few beers brewed by Glutenberg and Harvester Brewing (they have a completely wheat/gluten free brewery). While I can tolerate gluten, I actually find myself enjoying some of the new gluten free beers. They have come a long way!

    2. You should keep an eye out for “Green’s” a Belgian gluten-free beer company. To me, it’s the only one that tastes like regular beer!

    3. Hi

      I’ve been a lifelong coeliac and although I’ve never been a big beer drinker, (alcoholic) apple cider is my ‘beer’ of choice, I did on occasion like a good Belgian wheat beer – I even once ad a 3 week holiday in Europe and drank wheat beer every day with no ill effects, yet just 2 years after that point a single mouthful of said wheat beer was enough to cause my throat to swell up, extreme bloating and stomach pains for days. End of beer drinking for me.
      What caused this suddn change? Well as a coeliac you have a certain amount of tolerance to gluten at various times of your life. Generally in teens and early/mid 20’s your tolerance can be good enough that you can almost follow a ‘normal’ diet, but thereafter your tolerance to gluten decreases as you age. Your tolerance also does not decrease in a linear fashion, you could have a beer and be fine yet 3 months later that same beer will cause you serious side effects.
      It’s a learning process every day and eventually it just isn’t worth the pain.
      I’ll be sticking to cider! 🙂

      • thanks for the helpful info Sarah! I didn’t realize tolerance can change over time but I think I’m experiencing that, even as a non-celiac. Although, I never have been tested. Just figured out my sensitivity through trial & lots of error. 🙂

        • Hi Terri

          There is a very simple blood test that you can get now, I was diagnosed 40+ years ago as a baby when the only way to find out was an intestinal biopsy! The biopsy is still used but only if the blood test indicates full coeliac disease.
          Could be worth getting the blood test done that way you can be more informed about what your options are.
          Good luck 🙂

    4. Cider is your new best friend. Seriously, it’s amazing and cider has come a LONG LONG way. Apple ciders, pear ciders, ciders with blueberries, ciders with pecans, dry ciders, sweet ciders, etc etc.

      My favorite is Angry Orchard – you can easily find it in grocery stores and they sell it at Walgreens in Chicago too. (Do you have Walgreens in WS?)
      Magner’s is Irish and the best traditional cider. Drink it over ice. Strongbow is English and really good too!
      Also check out Vander Mill Totally Roasted or Blue Gold (blueberry!). It’s pretty local to the Midwest, but maybe you can find it somewhere in WS.

      • Actually – any cider can, and should, be drank over ice. That’s why I love cider so much, I can sip on it and when it gets warm I toss in some ice! Or if it’s super hot out it’s so much more refreshing to be drinking an iced cider than a Bud Light.

      • Blueberry and pecan ciders? I must get to the midwest! I love Angry Orchard (blue label is my favorite), too.

    5. Full flavored Corona and Budweiser are gluten free. (not the lite versions, only the Corona extra and Bud heavy). Little known fact that Budweiser is made with rice in mass production, of course that’s kind of embarrassing to them so they don’t advertise it as gluten free. I have a gluten intolerance but Corona has not bothered me.

    6. I wonder if gluten intolerance/sensitivity may get worse with exposure? My boyfriend has a wheat allergy, but he used to eat loads of wheat (pasta, bread, etc) on a daily basis. Over time, he started getting a small reaction to it (itchy, sleepy) that got worse and worse the more he ate wheat. Now, he has to completely avoid wheat. Maybe the more you’re exposed to it the worse it’s getting? Just a thought.

    7. I’ve noticed that I feel terrible drinking beer now when I try to re-introduce it, but it seems that the alcohol is the big factor. Try drinking an alcohol free beer, Weihenstephaner makes an alcohol free Hefeweizen you could test with.

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