Gluten-free Renaissance

Gluten-intolerant consumers seem to be enjoying a Renaissance in the gluten-free market for beers, wines and spirits as demand from both the gluten-intolerant and the casual customer should see the range in this product sub-category expand still further.

For Gluten-intolerant imbibers the good news is that pure spirits, whether made from wheat, barley or rye, are deemed gluten-free by those that know (and care) – it’s all (taken out) in the distillation process.

However complete gluten eradication can be a finicky business and the little blighters can persist into the final product through cross-contamination from previously used containers or from distilleries or breweries that produce other (gluten-laden) products as part of their overall offering.

And with the growth in flavoured spirits, that way too can lie challenge, so  gluten-intolerants should be on the lookout for the possibility of hidden glutens in liquors that put flavourings or other additives into the mix after a pure distillation.


Beer does it differently

Beer brews up a different story as it’s usually fermented from barley – sworn enemy of the coeliacs. If fermented from barley or wheat, the gluten can persist into the final product. So the only beers considered completely gluten-free are those brewed from rice or corn.



Debate still continues about both the validity of beers proclaiming ‘gluten-removed’ on the label and those who advocate that coeliacs simply steer clear of barley-based beers.

Dundalk Bay Brewery & Distillery produces gluten-free beers from a barley-based mash but according to its Managing Director Tony Healy when it produces such beers as part of its Brewmaster range, “We put enzymes into the beer at fermentation point which strips out all particulates and gluten drops down to just 10 parts per million.

“The advice we’re getting from coeliacs is that anything below 20 parts per million is tolerable.

“We take a sample of the product after filtering and send it off to an independent laboratory and they certify that it is gluten-free.”

It also helps to use a dedicated brewing tank for gluten-free beers.

With the passing of time, brewers have become more sophisticated and today safe gluten-free beers abound on the market.


Brewmaster Beer, Award-winning premium Irish beers

Since launching the Brewmaster range in 2018 the team at Dundalk Bay Brewery & Distillery in County Louth has created award-winning Irish beers, the most recent being Country Gold for its Premium Maibock at the 2020 World Beer Awards.

Brewmaster’s slogan says it all – ‘Brewing in our DNA’ – with brewing being a huge part of the heritage of the region dating back to the 1700s. Now with a more modern flair, the team brews in its fully automated brewery, one of the largest craft facilities in Ireland, with its own tunnel pasteurising unit to ensure best quality premium product.

The core range includes gluten-free lager & all products are vegan-friendly – Irish Lager, Red Ale, IPA & Isotonic Non-Alcoholic Lager (& IPA).

For fans of darker beers, there’s Imperial Stout, Black Dry Stout & limited-edition Barrel-Aged Stout – which ages for over two years.

There are also multiple award-winning seasonal editions such the popular Haus Party Pilsner, American Pale Ale & low ABV Micro IPA.

Brewmaster boasts some exceptional non-alcoholic ranges including a 0.5% ABV Lager & IPA. These non-alcoholic ranges are isotonic, replenishing & make for a great recovery drink.



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The Irish grocery market has seen a conscious move to healthier options with big increases in zero alcohol, gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free and more.  Hüfi fits into this lifestyle choice and is recognised by this market with growth of over 100% in the last year alone.

Hüfi Beer, from Comans Beverages, is currently Ireland’s top-selling vegan-friendly, gluten-free beer which takes its name from the Hüfi Glacier in the Swiss Alps. Now available in a convenient four-pack can, it has an ABV of 4.2%, the same as most standard beers, but contains only 140 calories per 50cl can – making it one of the lowest calorie beers on the Irish market.

Its four-pack 50cl cans work well in this category and will only improve over the coming months and years.

Stockists can avail of a variety of POS including free-standing shop tidies, posters and shelf-strips. You can find more information on Hüfi Beer on its Facebook or Instagram pages or by visiting


Brú Lager

Brú Lager, also available in cans in the coming weeks, is a gluten-free, Irish craft beer that’s clean, bright and refreshing with a soft nuttiness and biscuit from the malts and spicy notes from the German Tradition hops, states the brewery, adding that grassy and floral aromas are enhanced by a rounded mouthfeel to make this a crisp and sessionable beer, suitable for coeliacs.

Akin to the cheerful chief of the Celtic god Dagda’s devotion to agriculture, this lager is Brú Brewery’s “lovesong to malt”.

In 2020, it won a Bronze in the Speciality Beers category at the International Beer Challenge and a Silver at the Concours International de Lyon.

Part of the Brú Brewery’s core range, it’s one of the best-selling products available in bottles at the moment, claims the brewery.


Beekon’s for the bees

Not a beer, wine or a cider, Beekon is something entirely new – a 5% ABV honey refresher. Available in classic Honey (like a honey prosecco at 5%), Ginger & Lime and lastly Elderflower & Sicilian Lemon, it’s free from additives, preservatives and gluten and is one of the more natural new market entrants in alcoholic drinks.

Irish-made and founded by an industry marketing veteran having spent most of her career in Diageo & Heineken, Karen O’Neill (the ‘KON’ of Beekon) branched out to create something that wasn’t just another alcohol product. While many have made the shift to lower alcohol and even alcohol-free alternatives, Karen’s more focused on what chemicals are in her drinks – and in Beekon’s case there are none in creating a drink from a pure Honey base that’s carbonated and bottled in a unique beehive-shaped bottle.

Where many consumers look to cut out drinking entirely, others seek more natural forms of alcohol.

Despite only 1% of us being gluten-intolerant over 20% of us adopt a gluten-free diet, she says.

This is a massively growing segment that Beekon fulfils with its naturally-fermented honey base.

Not only is Beekon offering better choices, it’s also got bee welfare at the heart of its ethos, with the ultimate goal that everywhere Beekon’s sold, there’s something happening to directly help the bees.


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