Can Coeliacs drink Strongbow?


The short answer is yes, coeliacs can safely drink Strongbow cider. Strongbow is made from apples and does not contain any gluten ingredients. However, there is a small risk of cross-contamination during the cider making process. Coeliacs who are very sensitive should exercise caution when drinking Strongbow.

What is coeliac disease?

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. When a person with coeliac disease eats gluten, their body mounts an immune response that attacks the small intestine. This leads to inflammation and damage to the intestinal villi, which are small finger-like projections that absorb nutrients. Common symptoms of coeliac disease include diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, fatigue, and unintended weight loss. The only treatment for coeliac disease is a strict lifelong gluten-free diet. This allows the intestinal villi to heal and nutrients to be absorbed properly.

What ingredients are in Strongbow cider?

The primary ingredients in Strongbow cider are apples and water. Here is the typical ingredient list:

  • Apples
  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Glucose syrup
  • Ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
  • Pectin
  • Yeast
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Malic acid
  • Sulphites

As you can see, Strongbow does not contain any gluten grains like wheat, barley or rye. The gluten-free status of Strongbow cider seems quite clear from inspecting the ingredients.

Why do some coeliacs react to cider?

While the ingredients suggest Strongbow cider should be safe, some coeliacs do report reactions like diarrhea and abdominal pain after drinking it. There are a few potential reasons for this:


Strongbow cider is produced in facilities that also process beers containing gluten grains. Some residual gluten could get into the cider through shared equipment, storage tanks, pipes, etc. The levels are usually trace, but enough to cause issues for highly sensitive coeliacs.

Grain-derived ingredients

Some ciders may use ingredients derived from gluten grains, like maltodextrin from barley or caramel color from wheat. Strongbow does not seem to use such ingredients, but it’s something to be aware of with ciders in general.

Yeast extract

A minority of coeliacs react to yeast extract, which provides flavor to some ciders. Strongbow appears to use regular brewer’s yeast rather than yeast extract.


Cider contains FODMAPs, types of carbohydrates that some people with coeliac disease have difficulty absorbing. The high fructose levels in cider may explain symptoms in those sensitive to FODMAPs.


Some coeliacs have reported gastrointestinal symptoms from drinking alcohol, including gluten-free alcohols like cider. The alcohol itself may irritate the damaged intestinal lining.

What do cider manufacturers say?

Here are the positions of two major cider producers on gluten content:


“All Strongbow ciders are gluten free. They are produced from apples and pears and do not contain any barley or wheat products. While our ciders are gluten free, we do handle gluten containing products at our cider mills.”


“Magners cider is brewed exclusively from apples and pears. We do not use any gluten-containing ingredients. However, due to processes carried out on site, we cannot guarantee our product is 100% gluten or wheat free.”

So neither can guarantee a completely gluten-free product, likely due to potential cross-contamination issues.

Should coeliacs avoid Strongbow?

Whether coeliacs should avoid Strongbow depends on individual sensitivity levels:

  • Coeliacs highly sensitive to trace gluten may want to avoid it
  • Those less sensitive will probably tolerate it fine
  • Drinking a pint may be riskier than a half pint
  • Opt for cans or bottles rather than draft cider from a shared tap

It’s best for each coeliac to trial a small amount first and see if any symptoms occur. Being aware of potential cross-contamination is prudent. Speak to your doctor if you have concerns about drinking Strongbow or notice recurring symptoms after consuming it.

Safest gluten-free ciders

For coeliacs highly sensitive to any gluten exposure, the safest option is to choose a certified gluten-free cider produced in a dedicated gluten-free facility. Here are some recommended options:


Glutenberg cider is certified gluten-free to less than 5 ppm. It’s produced in a dedicated gluten-free brewery in Canada.


Crispin ciders are certified gluten-free by the Gluten Intolerance Group, with accepted threshold of 10 ppm.

Angry Orchard

Angry Orchard also has certification from the Gluten Intolerance Group. Their facilities are not gluten-free, but use thorough cleaning protocols.

Other gluten-free alcohols

For coeliacs unwilling to risk potential cross-contamination, there are many other gluten-free alcoholic beverage options to consider:

Wine and champagne

All wine and champagne is naturally gluten-free, made from grapes with no gluten ingredients. Organic options further reduce chemical exposure.

Distilled spirits

Spirits like vodka, rum, tequila, and whiskey are distilled from gluten grains, but the distillation process removes the gluten protein. Look for “gluten-free” labeling and avoid added flavorings.

Gluten-free beer

Sorghum, millet, rice or corn can be used to brew gluten-free beer. Popular brands include Redbridge, Glutenberg, Ground Breaker, New Planet, and Ghostfish.

What about apple juice or apple flavoring?

Pure apple juice and natural apple flavors made without grain alcohol should also be safe for coeliacs. But as with anything new, try a small amount first and be alert to any reactions.


In summary:

  • Strongbow cider appears gluten-free based on its ingredients
  • But the manufacturing process introduces a small risk of cross-contamination
  • Highly sensitive coeliacs may want to avoid it or consume cautiously
  • Less sensitive individuals will probably tolerate it fine
  • Those unwilling to risk any exposure have many other gluten-free alcohol options
  • Drinking moderate amounts and sticking to cans or bottles is safest
  • Coeliacs should listen to their own bodies and avoid any foods that cause symptoms

As with any potential allergen, the most sensitive individuals should take the most conservative approach. But occasional small servings of Strongbow cider will likely be tolerated just fine by most coeliacs.

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