Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten can cause digestive issues and other health problems. Many beers contain gluten because they are brewed using barley or wheat. However, some beers are considered “gluten-free” because they are made without gluten-containing grains.
Corona Light is a light lager produced by Grupo Modelo in Mexico. It has a lower alcohol content and fewer calories than regular Corona beer. Corona Light is not brewed to be gluten-free, but it does have relatively low gluten content compared to some other beers. This article will look at how much gluten is in Corona Light and whether it can be considered gluten-free.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, barley, rye and other related grains. The two main proteins that make up gluten are:
When flour and water are mixed together and kneaded, these two proteins form elastic strands that give bread and other baked goods their chewy texture. Gluten helps dough rise and keep its shape.
For most people, gluten does not cause any problems. However, for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten can trigger an autoimmune response that damages the small intestine. This can lead to symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, fatigue and nutritional deficiencies.
People with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity need to follow a strict lifelong gluten-free diet by avoiding foods and drinks containing gluten. Even small amounts of gluten from cross-contamination can cause issues.
Gluten Content of Common Grains
|Oats*||Moderate to High|
*Oats do not naturally contain gluten but are often cross-contaminated with gluten-containing grains. Some oat varieties are certified gluten-free.
Gluten Content of Beer
The main ingredients used in beer production are water, malted barley or wheat, hops and yeast. Because barley and wheat contain gluten, most beers are not considered gluten-free.
During the brewing process, the gluten-containing grains are steeped, germinated and dried. This activates enzymes that convert the grain’s starch into fermentable sugars. The grains are then milled and mashed, and the sugar-rich liquid (wort) is boiled with hops and fermented with yeast.
Although the gluten is broken down somewhat during brewing, finished beer still contains gluten. The exact gluten content depends on the grains and other ingredients used.
Here are some approximate gluten levels for different beer styles:
Gluten Content of Different Beer Styles
|Beer Style||Gluten Content (ppm)|
|Lagers and pilsners||10-40|
|Porters and stouts||20-150|
|Gluten-removed beers||Under 20|
|Gluten-free beers||Under 20|
In the United States, beers labeled “gluten-free” must contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. Beers with ppm levels above 20 are not considered safe for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
Is Corona Light Gluten-Free?
Corona Light is not a gluten-free beer. It is brewed primarily from barley malt, water, hops and yeast – all traditional beer ingredients that contain gluten.
Corona Light is classified as an American-style light lager. Most light lagers have moderate gluten levels, typically ranging from 10-40 ppm.
Although the exact gluten content is not provided by the manufacturer, Corona Light likely contains between 10-30 ppm of gluten from its barley malt.
While Corona Light has lower alcohol and calories than regular Corona, its gluten content is likely quite similar. Therefore, Corona Light is not considered a gluten-free beer and is not safe for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
Why Corona Light is Not Gluten-Free
Here are some of the reasons why Corona Light contains gluten and cannot be labeled as gluten-free:
Made with Malted Barley
Corona Light is brewed from malted barley. Barley is a gluten-containing grain. While the malting process breaks down some of the gluten, residual gluten remains in the finished beer.
No Gluten-Removing Processes
Some specialty beers use processes like enzymatic treatment to remove most of the gluten from the finished product. Corona Light is not treated to remove gluten during production.
Possibility of Cross-Contamination
The equipment used for malting and brewing Corona Light may also process other gluten-containing ingredients. This can lead to cross-contamination of gluten in the final beer.
Not Lab Tested to Verify Gluten Levels
Corona Light’s gluten content is not lab tested and verified. Without analytical testing, its exact gluten ppm cannot be determined. Beers labeled gluten-free undergo specialized testing.
No “Gluten-Free” Labeling
Corona Light does not make any “gluten-free” claims on its packaging or marketing materials. The manufacturer considers it a gluten-containing beer.
Made in Shared Brewery and Bottling Facilities
Corona Light is produced in facilities that also make other beers containing gluten. Shared equipment increases the likelihood of cross-contamination.
Risks of Drinking Corona Light with Gluten Sensitivity
While Corona Light is relatively low in gluten compared to some other styles of beer, it does still contain some gluten from the barley malt used in production.
The FDA advises that people with celiac disease should not consume foods or beverages containing more than 20 ppm of gluten. There is no evidence that Corona Light has less than 20 ppm.
Drinking Corona Light would pose the following risks for people with gluten intolerance:
Abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea and constipation are common GI symptoms after consuming gluten. The small intestine is damaged and has difficulty absorbing nutrients properly.
Fatigue and Joint Pain
Inflammation caused by gluten exposure can leave people feeling tired, achy and rundown. Headaches are also common.
Celiac disease can manifest with severe itchy skin rashes and dermatitis herpetiformis – a blistering skin condition.
Without adhering to a strict gluten-free diet, people with celiac disease have higher rates of anemia, osteoporosis, infertility and certain cancers.
Even very small amounts of gluten from cross-contact with food preparation surfaces can make people with celiac disease sick. Consuming Corona Light increases this risk.
Gluten-Free Beer Alternatives
Although Corona Light contains gluten, there are many great gluten-free beer options available:
Craft Gluten-Removed Beers
Some craft breweries use enzymes to remove gluten from barley- or wheat-based beers. Omission, Stone Delicious IPA and New Planet are popular gluten-removed beer brands.
Gluten-Free Sorghum Beers
Sorghum has no gluten and can be fermented into gluten-free beer. Brands like Redbridge and Greens use sorghum as their base.
Gluten-Free Beers Made from Root Vegetables
Unique gluten-free beers are crafted from ingredients like cassava root, potatoes or tapioca. Examples include Holidaily Brewing Co., Ghostfish Brewing and Alt Brew.
Cider and Mead
Cider and mead are made from fruit juice and honey respectively and are gluten-free. Popular ciders include Angry Orchard, Strongbow and Woodchuck.
The Bottom Line
Corona Light is a light American-style lager brewed by Grupo Modelo in Mexico. It contains gluten because it is made with malted barley – a glutenous grain.
While Corona Light is relatively low in gluten compared to some beer styles, it likely contains between 10-30 ppm based on similar beers. This is above the legal limit to be labeled gluten-free.
People with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should avoid drinking Corona Light, as even small amounts of gluten can cause health issues. They should opt for a lab-tested gluten-free beer alternative instead.