Can I drink cider with gluten intolerance?

Gluten intolerance, also known as gluten sensitivity, is a condition where people experience digestive issues and other symptoms after consuming gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. For people with gluten intolerance, drinking beverages containing gluten can trigger uncomfortable symptoms.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye and barley. The two main proteins in gluten are:

  • Gliadin
  • Glutenin

When flour is mixed with water, these proteins bind together and give bread and other baked goods an elastic texture. For most people, gluten doesn’t cause any issues. But for those with gluten intolerance, it can damage the small intestine and cause problems.

What is gluten intolerance?

Gluten intolerance, also called non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), is a condition distinct from celiac disease. People with gluten intolerance experience digestive discomfort and other symptoms after eating gluten, but they don’t have the same autoimmune response or small intestine damage as those with celiac disease.

The exact mechanisms behind gluten intolerance are still being studied. But researchers believe the issues may be related to:

  • Difficulty properly digesting gluten
  • An immune reaction to gluten proteins
  • Changes to gut bacteria triggered by gluten consumption

Symptoms of gluten intolerance can include:

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Headaches
  • “Foggy mind”
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain

These symptoms typically begin hours or days after consuming gluten and resolve once gluten is eliminated from the diet. Gluten intolerance can develop at any age and is estimated to affect 6-10% of the population.

Is cider gluten-free?

The gluten content of cider depends on the ingredients used:

  • Apple cider is naturally gluten-free, since it’s made from pressed apples. Pure apple cider does not contain any gluten.
  • Pear cider is also gluten-free, since it’s made from pears.
  • Other fruit ciders may be gluten-free if they don’t contain gluten-containing ingredients.
  • Cider flavored with gluten-containing grains like barley or wheat will contain gluten. Read the label carefully.
  • Hard cider sometimes contains added glutenous grains to aid the fermentation process. Check the label or ask the manufacturer.

So some types of cider are gluten-free, while others contain gluten. It depends entirely on the ingredients used to make the particular cider.

Is apple cider vinegar gluten-free?

Apple cider vinegar starts with apple cider, which is naturally gluten-free. The fermentation process to make apple cider vinegar does not introduce any gluten either. So apple cider vinegar is considered gluten-free.

Distilled white vinegar, made from corn or other starch, is also gluten-free. Basically all plain vinegars are fine on a gluten-free diet.

The only exception would be malt vinegar, which is made from barley malt. Malt vinegar does contain trace amounts of gluten and is not considered gluten-free.

Tips for drinking cider with gluten intolerance

Here are some tips for safely enjoying cider if you have gluten intolerance:

  • Stick to ciders made from apples, pears or other fruits. Avoid grain-based ciders.
  • Check the label and ingredients list for added grains, or call the manufacturer to ask.
  • Look for certified gluten-free ciders to avoid uncertainty.
  • If drinking hard cider, check that no gluten-containing grains were used in fermentation.
  • Drink apple cider vinegar freely, but avoid malt vinegar.
  • Start with a small serving of any new cider to test your reaction.
  • Avoid flavored ciders with added ingredients that may contain gluten.
  • Consider sticking to reputable gluten-free brands you trust.

Symptoms of gluten exposure from cider

If you drink a cider that secretly contains gluten, you may experience typical gluten intolerance symptoms including:

  • Bloating
  • Gas and flatulence
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • “Brain fog”
  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Skin rash or acne

The timing and severity of symptoms can vary. Some people react quickly within hours of exposure. For others it may take a day or two for issues to arise. Pay attention to how your body responds after drinking ciders labeled gluten-free to ensure they are safe for you.

Drinking cider on a gluten-free diet

Following a strict gluten-free diet is the main treatment for managing gluten intolerance. This means avoiding all foods and drinks containing gluten.

While grain-based beer, lagers and ales are off the menu, most ciders make a nice gluten-free addition for those looking for an alcoholic beverage option. Pure hard ciders fermented from apples or other fruit are usually fine in moderation. Just be extra careful about checking labels for added ingredients.

Opting for dry ciders rather than sweet ones can further reduce the likelihood of glutenous additives. Dry apple cider, pear cider and other dry fruit ciders make a flavorful gluten-free choice.

Beyond alcohol, apple cider vinegar can provide health benefits like improving insulin sensitivity, aiding weight loss, and reducing cholesterol and blood pressure levels. While no direct research links apple cider vinegar to improved gluten intolerance, many sufferers report less severe symptoms when taking it daily.

What drinks should you avoid?

Along with beer, lagers and ales, those with gluten intolerance need to avoid these common drinks containing gluten:

  • Grain-based liquors like whiskey, vodka, gin and rum (unless labeled gluten-free)
  • Flavored ciders and coolers with added grains or malt
  • Beers labeled gluten-removed or craft beers containing wheat/barley
  • Malt beverages like malta and malt vinegar
  • Instant coffee drinks with barley malt
  • Wheatgrass and barley juice
  • Any drink using gluten-containing ingredients

Checking the ingredients list can identify hidden gluten lurking in flavored beverages. When in doubt, avoid it or contact the manufacturer to verify gluten content.

What are the best ciders to drink?

These gluten-free ciders are great options to enjoy safely with gluten intolerance:

Dry Ciders

  • Crispin Dry Cider
  • Strongbow Dry Cider
  • Woodchuck Dry Cider
  • Angry Orchard Dry Cider
  • Savanna Dry Cider

Sweet Ciders

  • Crispin Original Cider
  • Angry Orchard Crisp Apple Cider
  • Woodchuck Fall Cider
  • Rekorderlig Strawberry-Lime Cider
  • JK Scrumpy’s Organic Cider

Pear Ciders

  • Citizen Cider Unified Press
  • Incline Pear Cider
  • Fox Barrel Pear Cider
  • Crispin Pear Cider
  • Ace Pear Cider

Along with these, any cider certified gluten-free or made from 100% pressed apples, pears or other gluten-free fruit can be enjoyed worry-free.

Healthy gluten-free mixers for cider

To cut the sweetness of cider, try mixing it with these gluten-free ingredients:

Gluten-free Mixer Flavor Notes
Soda water Adds bubbly carbonation
Tonic water Bittersweet and fizzy
Pure cranberry juice Tart and fruity
Fresh orange juice Bright citrus notes
Pomegranate juice Slightly sweet and tart
Sparkling white grape juice Effervescent and crisp

For an extra flavor boost, add a splash of ginger beer, pure maple syrup, cinnamon syrup or fruit purees. Test out combinations to find your perfect gluten-free cider cocktail.

Is drinking cider with gluten intolerance safe?

Drinking cider is generally considered safe for people with gluten intolerance, provided the cider does not contain any gluten. Ciders made purely from apples, pears and other gluten-free fruits are fine to drink as these do not naturally contain gluten.

The main safety concern arises from cider that may have had gluten added during production. Grain-based alcohols are sometimes added to hard ciders. Glutenous grains may also be used in flavorings. To stay safe:

  • Only choose plain ciders without added flavors, spices or other ingredients.
  • Verify the cider is gluten-free by checking the label or contacting the manufacturer.
  • Start with a small 4-6 oz serving to test your reaction, especially when trying a new brand.
  • Avoid malt beverages, as they contain gluten.
  • Make sure hard cider did not use glutenous grains in fermentation.

Being cautious and selective about cider choices enables those with gluten issues to enjoy cider safely and prevent exposure to hidden gluten.

Common questions about cider with gluten intolerance

Can I drink Angry Orchard cider with gluten intolerance?

Yes, Angry Orchard ciders are considered gluten-free and safe to drink with gluten intolerance. Angry Orchard is made from apples and does not contain wheat, barley, rye or gluten.

Is cider OK for gluten intolerance?

Most ciders are fine for people with gluten intolerance, provided the cider is made purely from apples, pears or other gluten-free fruit. Be sure to check the label and ingredients carefully to avoid potential sources of gluten.

Can cider vinegar be used on a gluten free diet?

Yes, apple cider vinegar and other fruit-based vinegars are naturally gluten-free. The only vinegar to avoid is malt vinegar, which contains trace amounts of gluten.

Is all hard cider gluten-free?

No, not all hard cider is gluten-free. Some brands may add gluten-containing grains during the fermentation process or include gluten as added flavors. Check the label or contact the cider company to confirm the cider is gluten-free.

Can I drink Smith & Forge cider with gluten intolerance?

Smith & Forge Hard Cider contains gluten and is not recommended for people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease. While made from apples, it likely uses wheat or barley in production.

The bottom line

Many delicious ciders can be safely enjoyed on a gluten-free diet. But caution is warranted, as some cider products may contain hidden sources of gluten. Read labels carefully, research brands in advance and inquire with manufacturers to determine gluten content. Stick to trusted gluten-free ciders made purely from fruit. With the right selections, cider can be a refreshing gluten-free beverage option.

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