Does Anheuser-Busch make gluten-free beer?

Gluten-free diets have become increasingly popular in recent years, with more people eliminating gluten due to celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or simply as a lifestyle choice. For beer drinkers who follow a strict gluten-free diet, finding safe gluten-free beer options can be challenging. Anheuser-Busch, one of the largest beer producers in the world, offers some gluten-reduced and gluten-free alternatives, but most of their major brands contain gluten.

What is gluten and why do some people need to avoid it?

Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. For most people, consuming gluten is not a problem. However, for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten triggers an autoimmune response that damages the small intestine. This can cause symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, fatigue, and nutrient malabsorption. The only treatment for celiac disease is strictly following a 100% gluten-free diet. People with gluten sensitivity may also need to avoid gluten to manage symptoms.

In addition to those with medical issues related to gluten, a growing number of people are choosing to go “gluten-free” in pursuit of perceived health benefits or because they feel better without gluten. While there is no evidence that gluten is inherently harmful to most people, eliminating it can provide relief for some.

What ingredients make beer gluten-free?

Traditional beer is made from four core ingredients: water, malted barley, hops, and yeast. The gluten content comes from the malted barley (or sometimes wheat) used in the brewing process. For a beer to be considered 100% gluten-free, it must eliminate gluten-containing grains entirely.

Gluten-free beers are typically brewed from ingredients like:

  • Sorghum
  • Buckwheat
  • Millet
  • Rice
  • Corn
  • Honey
  • Quinoa
  • Amaranth

These “alternative grains” allow brewers to create gluten-free beers without sacrificing certain style characteristics that barley contributes. Along with gluten-free base grains, brewers use regular hops, yeast, and other gluten-free ingredients for flavoring.

Does Anheuser-Busch make any gluten-free beer brands?

Yes, Anheuser-Busch produces a few gluten-free beer options under some of their major brands like Budweiser, Stella Artois, and Best Damn:

Bud Light Next

Bud Light Next is a “zero carb” lager made with four gluten-reduced ingredients: water, rice, hops, and yeast. Technically it is not 100% gluten-free, but may be safe for some people sensitive to gluten depending on their individual tolerance level. Anheuser-Busch claims the gluten content tests below 10 ppm (parts per million).

Stella Artois Gluten Free

Stella Artois Gluten Free is Anheuser-Busch’s dedicated gluten-free offering. It is brewed from a combination of sorghum, rice, hops, yeast, and water. Independent lab testing confirms each batch tests below 10 ppm of gluten.

Best Damn Gluten Free

Best Damn Gluten Free is another sorghum-based gluten-free lager from Anheuser-Busch. It also contains rice, hops, and yeast. Testing shows gluten levels below 10 ppm.

While these three beers are the only products marketed specifically as “gluten-free” by Anheuser-Busch, a few other brands like Michelob ULTRA and Busch Light have “reduced gluten” recipes without barley. However they do contain wheat, corn, rice, hops, yeast so are not considered truly gluten-free.

Are Anheuser-Busch’s gluten-free beers safe for celiacs?

For those with celiac disease, sticking to certified gluten-free beers under 20 ppm is recommended. The gluten-free claims made by Anheuser-Busch for Stella Artois Gluten Free, Best Damn Gluten Free, and Bud Light Next appear legitimate based on independent testing.

However, individuals with celiac disease have varying sensitivity levels. Some experts advise using caution with beers labeled “gluten-reduced” since they still contain traces of gluten and may not be tolerated well by the most sensitive celiacs.

Key factors determining safety:

  • Independent lab testing verifying under 20 ppm gluten
  • Dedicated gluten-free brewing facilities
  • Use of certified gluten-free ingredients
  • Avoiding cross-contamination during processing

Anheuser-Busch has implemented procedures to address these safety criteria based on statements on their website. But some celiacs choose to err on the side of caution and only drink beers certified gluten-free by organizations like the Gluten Intolerance Group.

What about other Anheuser-Busch beer brands like Budweiser and Corona?

The majority of Anheuser-Busch’s top-selling beer brands are brewed with traditional gluten-containing ingredients and are not safe for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. These include:

  • Budweiser
  • Bud Light
  • Michelob Ultra
  • Busch Light
  • Natural Light
  • Corona

While these beers technically contain gluten from ingredients like barley and wheat, some brands have lower gluten content than others based on the recipe. For example, Michelob Ultra has slightly reduced gluten due to the use of sorghum and rice in addition to barley malt. But the gluten levels still exceed 20 ppm.

Beers with gluten content over 20 ppm:

Beer Brand Gluten Content (ppm)
Budweiser 148
Bud Light 116
Michelob Ultra 85
Natural Light 163

Those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should avoid these products. Individuals with mild gluten intolerance may sometimes tolerate beers under 20 ppm, but have varying responses.

Are Anheuser-Busch’s facilities safe for gluten-free production?

Anheuser-Busch takes steps to prevent cross-contamination for its gluten-free beer brands, though the exact protocols vary by brewing facility:

  • Stella Artois Gluten Free is produced in a dedicated gluten-free brewery in Baldwinsville, NY.
  • Best Damn Gluten Free is brewed at Anheuser-Busch’s Fairfield, CA brewery with shared equipment subject to rigorous cleaning procedures.
  • Bud Light Next is brewed on shared lines at regular facilities after deep cleaning.

Some celiacs only trust beers made in a 100% dedicated gluten-free facility like the one producing Stella Artois Gluten Free. Others feel comfortable withverified deep-cleaning procedures for shared equipment. This is an individual choice based on sensitivity level.

How do Anheuser-Busch’s gluten-free beers taste?

Reviews of Anheuser-Busch’s gluten-free beer brands are generally positive:

Bud Light Next:

  • Crisp, light-bodied, and refreshing
  • Mild flavor profile closer to hard seltzers than traditional lagers
  • Subtle hints of citrus and hops
  • Thinner mouthfeel due to absence of grains like barley

Stella Artois Gluten Free:

  • Clean, balanced flavor with mild bitterness
  • Crisp and refreshing with medium body
  • Hint of maltiness from sorghum
  • Decent approximation of regular Stella Artois flavor

Best Damn Gluten Free:

  • Robust flavor with well-balanced sweetness and bitterness
  • Notes of fruit and hops
  • Fuller body than many gluten-free beers
  • Retains solid lager characteristics

Gluten-free beer brands from Anheuser-Busch offer a decent taste and texture compared to competitors. They provide an option for enjoying the familiar brands in a gluten-free format.

The bottom line

While the majority of beers made by Anheuser-Busch contain gluten and are not suitable for gluten-free diets, some brand options exist:

  • Stella Artois Gluten Free, Best Damn Gluten Free, and Bud Light Next are produced using certified gluten-free ingredients and test below 10 ppm.
  • Those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should use caution and check labeling since production protocols and facilities vary.
  • Flagship brands like Budweiser, Bud Light, and Michelob Ultra still contain gluten above 20 ppm.
  • Individual tolerance levels differ – some celiacs can only tolerate beer under 5 ppm while others may be able to have beer under 20 ppm.
  • Anheuser-Busch implements procedures for dedicated equipment and deep cleaning at certain facilities producing their gluten-free beers.

Overall, Anheuser-Busch provides verified gluten-free options that offer an appealing taste and texture. But their major top-selling beers are still off-limits for those avoiding gluten. Do your research, read the labels carefully, and listen to your own body’s response when making gluten-free beer choices.

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