Prohibited Grains in Brewing Gluten Free Beer

Prohibited Grains in Brewing Gluten Free Beer

In the public media, Celiac Disease barely receives mention. The Celiac Sprue Association and National Foundation for Celiac Awareness work hard to disseminate information to the general public, but their work has just begun. Occasional articles, published in the New York Times or the Oakland Tribune, touch upon the subject, and Gluten Free Beer enjoys more press since the national release of Redbridge by Anheuser-Busch in December, 2006. Few columns, however, delve into the details of unacceptable grains. Barley and wheat (and sometimes rye) are most commonly mentioned, but confusion exists among beerwriters, brewers, beer distributors, and physicians concerning grains that are closely aligned, making them unacceptable for brewing Gluten Free Beer.

On my first trip to London, England, I was intrigued by the ingredients of a Panini sandwich that caught my eye in a local, organic corner deli. Labeled as Rocket and Cheese, I chose this item, delighting in the mystery ingredient: rocket. Upon further research, I learned that rocket was known by different names in different countries: arugula, roquette, rugula and rucola. Thus began my education about the importance of expanding my vocabulary for cross-cultural ingredients used in cooking and brewing.

Spelt, a wheat species, leads the pack as the most commonly misunderstood grain for brewing Gluten Free Beer. Brewers often mistake it as a safe grain, as do beerwriters and distributors. Other names for Spelt include Dinkel, Spelz, Épeautre, and Alac. Spelt may sometimes be called Farro, although Emmer Wheat also goes by the name of Farro.


BARLEY - Harmful gluten-rich prolamin: hordein.

BULGUR - Sourced from several species of wheat, but most often from durum wheat –
Harmful gluten-rich prolamin: gliadin

COUSCOUS - Made from semolina, usually wheat
Harmful gluten-rich prolamin: gliadin

DURUM WHEAT – also called Macaroni Wheat, Amber Durum and Red Durum
Harmful gluten-rich prolamin: gliadin

EINHORN WHEAT - Harmful gluten-rich prolamin: gliadin

EMMER – a species of wheat, also known as Farro
Harmful gluten-rich prolamin: gliadin

FARINA – A blend, most often made from wheat grain, nuts and starchy roots
Harmful gluten-rich prolamin: gliadin

FARRO – May be Emmer Wheat or Spelt
Harmful gluten-rich prolamin: gliadin

GRAHAM FLOUR - Made from wheat, and consists of the bran and germ, separated from the wheat kernel and coarsely ground; then re-combined with the more finely ground wheat kernel
Harmful gluten-rich prolamin: gliadin

KAMUT - A protected variety of wheat, also known as QK-77, a form of the Khorsan wheat or Durum Wheat
Harmful gluten-rich prolamin: gliadin

OATS – Most studies indicate that oats are a safe grain; however, medical professionals advise avoidance of oats due to the high level of cross-contamination with wheat and barley.
Safe gluten prolamin: avenin
Cross contamination with barley or wheat may render it harmful. May contain -
Harmful, gluten-rich prolamins: hordein or gliadin

RYE – Harmful gluten-rich prolamin: secalin

SEMOLINA – Grain product, usually wheat, which has been coarsely ground
Harmful gluten-rich prolamin: gliadin

SPELT – A wheat species, also known as Dinkel, Spelz, Épeautre, and Alac.
Harmful gluten-rich prolamin: gliadin

TRITICALE - Hybrid of rye and wheat
Harmful gluten-rich prolamin: secalin and gliadin

WHEAT - Harmful gluten-rich prolamin: gliadin


Be suspicious of any ingredient that bears the words “flavoring or natural flavoring.” If chocolate is used as an adjunct, check the label for “malt,” a clear warning that it contains barley.

Hydrolized protein may contain wheat.
Nuts or dried fruits may come into contact with wheat during processing.  Only use these if they are clearly marked as Gluten Free.


You Should Also Read:
Common Grains and Nuts for Brewing Gluten-Free Beer
Guide to Tasting Gluten Free Beer
Sorghum Beer Across Cultures

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