The growing gluten-free alcohol market

The growing popularity of gluten-free drinks is not limited to Coeliacs or others with a gluten-intolerance.
It's not always clear which beers on offer are gluten-free. We look at a few of those available to the publican and off-licensee.

It’s not always clear which beers on offer are gluten-free. We look at a few of those available to the publican and off-licensee.


Actor and now spirits entrepreneur Kate Hudson is but the latest in a long line of celebrity alcohol endorsements when she recently launched her particular vodka brand, King St.

But what’s “different” about it is that the vodka is heavily publicised as being “gluten-free”.

Not so different after all, it seems, because all vodka should be gluten-free by virtue of the distillation process – or is it?


Gluten-free alcoholic drinks

Traditionally distilled from grain – wheat, barley or rye – today’s vodkas are also now being made from other core ingredients such as potatoes, grapes, corn and even figs.

But despite using distillation and any subsequent filtration process to remove gluten protein, it’s by no means unusual for those suffering from coeliac disease and others with gluten sensitivity to have problems drinking spirits distilled from grains containing gluten or more especially beers brewed from gluten-containing grain.

The Coeliac Support Association recommends not consuming gluten-based spirits for this reason.

And the Coeliac Society of Ireland points out that many alcoholic drinks are made from barley so it warns that while distilled drinks should be gluten-free, brewed products especially may not be.

It also notes that, “Any spirits (where stated) that are aged or matured in stout/lager casks may be contaminated with gluten. Therefore we do not recommend these as safe options for coeliacs and advise on selecting other options”.

It’s possible that some fragments of gluten protein might survive the trip to the spirits bottle and trigger a Coeliac’s immune response mechanism into unwelcome action.

But alcoholic drinks distilled or brewed from gluten-free product can work for them instead – and an added reassurance: vodka producers cannot put “gluten-free” on their product if it has not been made from gluten-free grain.

Gluten comes from grains such as wheat, barley or rye and not from grapes so wine is naturally gluten-free as are certain spirits – take a bow Cognac, Tequila and Rum.


Gluten-free beers

Significant strides forward have been made towards ‘gluten-free’ beers in recent times with taste being a particularly significant driver of sales – even for those who’re not gluten-intolerant, many of whom are buying gluten-free beers simply for the taste.

Instead of barley, wheat or rye, sorghum or millet have been used as alternative grains.

But Coeliacs should be wary of the terms ‘gluten reduced’ or ‘gluten removed’ on a label as these can still cause trouble for a gluten-intolerant customer.

It’s not always clear which beers on offer are gluten-free. We look at a few of those available to the publican and off-licensee.


Comeragh Challenger — Gluten-free Pale Ale

Dungarvan Brewing Company, this year celebrating 10 years in brewing, has been offering Comeragh Challenger as part of its core range since 2015. Available in 500ml bottles and on draught, this single hopped English-style Pale Ale is very easy drinking at just 3.8% ABV and the malty profile and floral hops make for a delicate and understated ale.

Dungarvan beers are great to match with food and as a lighter flavoured beer Comeragh Challenger pairs well with many dishes and is especially great with barbeque or chicken and fish dishes alongside soft and lighter flavoured cheeses. Of course, it can also be enjoyed on its own giving the consumer greater choice in gluten-free beer options.

Comeragh Challenger has been a long time favourite of many craft beer drinkers and it’s also enjoyed by those following a gluten-free diet.  The beer is made from barley in which the gluten protein is denatured to under 10 parts per million making it suitable for coeliacs and it’s approved by the Coeliac Society of Ireland. As with all Dungarvan beers it’s also vegan-friendly, unfiltered, unpasteurised and bottle-conditioned.

The full Dungarvan range is available nationwide through wholesalers Fourcorners and Pallas Foods.




Hüfi 500ml 4-pack

Hüfi Beer is a vegan-friendly, gluten-free beer inspired by the Hüfi Glacier in the Swiss Alps. Since its launch, Hüfi has become one of the most popular gluten-free beers on the market.

Now available in a convenient 4-pack can, it has an ABV of 4.2%, the same as most standard beers, but it contains only 140 calories per can – making it the second-lowest calorie beer on the Irish market.

Find Hüfi Beer on facebook and Instagram.

Stockists can also avail of a variety of POS including free-standing shop tidys, posters and shelf strips.




Peroni Gluten Free delivers the same delicious crisp-tasting beer from Italy, without the gluten. Peroni Nastro Azzurro has created the gluten-free variant to cater for coeliacs and those choosing to lead a gluten-free lifestyle.

The product has been certified and endorsed by the Italian Coeliac Association and will enable even more people to enjoy the crisp refreshing taste of Italy’s most iconic beer.

Using their extensive skills and experience the Italian brewmasters at Peroni have perfected the special gluten-free recipe involving the use of enzymes to remove gluten molecules without compromising on taste. Through this process Peroni Nastro Azzurro is able to offer the same delicate balance of bitterness and citrus aromatic notes combined with the refreshing, clean finish, which Peroni Nastro Azzurro admirers have come to love.


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