Does Michelob ULTRA Organic have gluten?

Michelob ULTRA Organic is a light lager produced by Anheuser-Busch, part of the beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev. Michelob ULTRA Organic is marketed as a low-calorie, low-carb, and organic beer option.

Many beer drinkers are concerned about gluten content in beer. Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten can cause serious health issues. As a result, gluten-free diets have become increasingly popular.

For beer drinkers who follow a gluten-free diet, knowing which beers contain gluten and which are gluten-free is extremely important. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at Michelob ULTRA Organic and whether or not it contains gluten.

What is gluten?

Before diving into whether Michelob ULTRA Organic contains gluten, it’s helpful to understand what exactly gluten is.

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:

– Gliadin
– Glutenin

When flour and water are combined and kneaded to make dough, the gluten proteins form elastic strands and networks that give dough its chewy texture. For products like bread, the gluten structure is essential for rising and creating a nice crumb structure.

People with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity have an autoimmune response when they consume gluten. For these individuals, gluten damages the small intestine and can cause symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain and fatigue. Avoiding gluten is the only treatment for celiac disease currently.

In addition to celiac disease, an estimated 1% of the population has non-celiac gluten sensitivity. This means they experience adverse reactions when ingesting gluten but they do not have the autoimmune response or intestinal damage seen in celiac disease patients. The only treatment for gluten sensitivity is also avoiding gluten in the diet.

Now that we’ve covered the basics on gluten, let’s look specifically at its role in beer and whether it’s present in Michelob ULTRA Organic.

Gluten in Beer

For most beers, gluten is introduced through the grains utilized in the brewing process. The most common grains used are:

– Malted barley – contains gluten
– Wheat – contains gluten
– Rye – contains gluten
– Oats – may contain traces of gluten due to cross-contamination

The gluten protein structures in these grains carry through the brewing process into the final beer product.

During brewing, the grains are milled, mashed, boiled in the wort and then fermented with yeast. While the gluten may change in structure somewhat through the brewing process, gluten proteins are very resistant and will remain intact in the final beer.

The only way to produce gluten-free beer is to avoid using gluten-containing grains altogether and utilize substitutes instead. Some examples of gluten-free grains used in specialty gluten-free beers include:

– Sorghum
– Millet
– Buckwheat
– Rice
– Corn
– Gluten-free oats

Now let’s take a closer look at Michelob ULTRA Organic’s ingredients and brewing process.

Michelob ULTRA Organic Ingredients

To understand if Michelob ULTRA Organic contains gluten, we need to look at the ingredients and brewing process used.

According to the Michelob ULTRA Organic website, the beer is made with the following ingredients:

– Organic 2-row malted barley
– Water
– Organic rice
– Hops
– Yeast

The key ingredient here in relation to gluten content is the organic 2-row malted barley. Barley is one of the gluten-containing grains. Since Michelob ULTRA Organic utilizes malted barley in the brewing process, that means the final beer product will contain gluten.

Some key points on the ingredient list:

– While rice is gluten-free, it is used in conjunction with malted barley rather than as a substitute. So Michelob ULTRA Organic is not considered a gluten-free beer.
– Organic 2-row refers to the variety of barley used. There is no evidence that organic malted barley would have lower gluten content compared to non-organic.
– Malted barley has gone through a malting process which may have altered the gluten structure slightly compared to unmalted barley, but gluten remains intact.

So based on the ingredients list, which includes malted barley, we can conclude that Michelob ULTRA Organic does contain gluten.

Testing for Gluten

In addition to looking at the ingredients list, many beers actually undergo lab testing to determine an exact gluten measurement.

Beers that are certified gluten-free by organizations like the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) must contain less than 10ppm of gluten. The GIG performs third party testing to confirm a beer is under this threshold before certifying it gluten-free.

For beers that contain gluten like Michelob ULTRA Organic, measuring exact gluten levels is less common. Since the beer clearly contains gluten based on ingredients, there is no need to quantify the exact amount through lab analysis.

However, if people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity wish to enjoy an occasional beer that has gluten, knowing the precise gluten levels can be helpful. This allows them to gauge potential reactions and make personal determinations on what gluten threshold may be tolerable.

I could not find any indication that Michelob ULTRA Organic has been tested to determine the exact gluten measurement in parts per million (ppm). Most information simply states it contains gluten due to the malted barley used in brewing.

However, some educated guesses can be made on the potential gluten content:

– Most conventional, gluten-containing beers have between 5,000-30,000 ppm of gluten
– Gluten levels in beer depend on the grains and brewing process utilized
– Since Michelob ULTRA Organic uses malted barley as the main grain, gluten levels are likely on the higher end of the 5,000-30,000 ppm range
– One celiac group estimates the gluten content at approximately 16,000 ppm on average for beers made with malted barley

Without third party testing data available, the exact gluten amount is uncertain. But based on typical levels in similar barley-based beers, it most likely contains thousands of parts per million.

Why Michelob ULTRA Organic Contains Gluten

Now that we’ve explored the ingredients and potential gluten measurements, let’s quickly summarize why Michelob ULTRA Organic contains gluten:

– It’s brewed using malted barley, a gluten-containing grain
– There’s no evidence of gluten testing indicating gluten-free certification or measurements below 10ppm
– While the exact gluten content is unknown, it likely contains thousands of parts per million based on similar malted barley beers

Michelob ULTRA Organic follows a traditional brewing process using malted barley. While steps may be taken to reduce gluten development during brewing, barley contains gluten proteins that remain present in the finished beer.

Some key points:

– Choosing organic malted barley does not impact gluten content
– The malting process may alter the gluten structure slightly but does not remove gluten proteins
– Other gluten-free grains like rice are used in addition to the malted barley rather than as a substitute

So in summary, Michelob ULTRA Organic contains gluten due to its use of malted barley as the main brewing grain. Gluten-sensitive drinkers should avoid this beer. Now let’s look at some similar beer options and consider gluten-free alternatives.

Comparing Michelob ULTRA Organic to Other Beers

How does Michelob ULTRA Organic compare to other mainstream beers in terms of gluten content?

Michelob ULTRA Organic aligns with the majority of popular beers made from traditional gluten-containing grains like barley and wheat. Some examples of other beers likely to have similar high levels of gluten include:

– Michelob ULTRA – also brewed from malted barley
– Miller Lite – brewed from malted barley and corn
– Bud Light – brewed from rice, barley malt, hops and water
– Corona – brewed from malted barley
– Heineken – malted barley is the primary ingredient

These common mass-produced beers use similar brewing processes and ingredients as Michelob ULTRA Organic. They would also be expected to contain thousands of ppm of gluten.

Beers that may have lower gluten levels include:

– Omission – touted as “crafted to remove gluten” using special enzymes
– Dogfish Head Tweason’ale – made with strawberries, buckwheat honey and gluten-free ingredients

However, it’s important to note that these beers are still not gluten-free. They likely fall in the less than 20ppm range but would not be considered safe for a gluten-free diet by organizations like the GIG.

Compared to beers specifically brewed to be gluten-free, the gluten content in Michelob ULTRA Organic is significantly higher:

– Glutenberg American Pale Ale – Brewed from millet, buckwheat, corn; gluten-free certified
– New Planet Pale Ale – Brewed from gluten-free grains and certified gluten-free
– Ghostfish Grapefruit IPA – Brewed from yeast, hops, water, fruit and gluten-free grains

So while Michelob ULTRA Organic aligns with most common beers in terms of high gluten content, there are specialty beers pursuing low-gluten or gluten-free recipes to appeal to gluten-sensitive drinkers. But Michelob ULTRA Organic cannot be considered a low-gluten or gluten-free option.

Gluten-Free Beer Options

For beer drinkers following a strict gluten-free diet either by choice or medical necessity, enjoying Michelob ULTRA Organic and other conventional barley-based beers is not an option.

But thankfully, there are a growing number of delicious gluten-free beer choices available:

– **Glutenberg** – Line of gluten-free craft beers made from millet, buckwheat and corn. Their flagship American Pale Ale is a popular choice.

– **Ghostfish Brewing Company** – Specializes exclusively in gluten-free beers. They utilize gluten-free grains like millet, rice, sorghum and yeast to create IPAs, stouts, ales and more.

– **New Planet Beer** – Focuses on producing gluten-free craft beer using rice, millet, buckwheat, tapioca and potatoes. Their most popular brews include the Blonde Ale, Pale Ale and Raspberry Ale.

– **Omission Beer** – While not gluten-free, Omission craft beers are produced to have gluten levels below 20ppm. May be an option for gluten-sensitive drinkers depending on individual tolerance levels.

– **Redbridge Beer** – Made by Anheuser-Busch, Redbridge was one of the first sorghum-based gluten-free beers available. Light, sweet flavor with 5ppm of gluten.

– **Bard’s Beer** – Brewed from millet, hops, water, rice and yeast. Tropic of Thunder IPA and Dragon’s Gold Munich-style lagers are two standouts. Certified gluten-free.

This is just a sampling of the many established and up-and-coming gluten-free beer brands available today. Depending on your location, many are sold in major grocery chains or you may need to visit specialty beer and wine shops.

Gluten-free beers provide plenty of options for those avoiding gluten. While the taste and texture may differ somewhat from conventional barley-based beers, there are quality gluten-free lagers and ales to suit a variety of beer preferences.

Is Michelob ULTRA Organic Suitable for a Gluten-Free Diet?

Based on the research we’ve outlined, Michelob ULTRA Organic is definitively **not** suitable for people following a gluten-free diet.

Here is a quick summary:

– Brewed using malted barley, a gluten-containing grain
– No evidence of special gluten removal processes used
– Not certified as gluten-free or tested below 10ppm threshold
– Likely contains thousands of ppm based on similar barley-based beer

While Michelob ULTRA Organic does offer some benefits like being low carb and calorie-free, it is not considered a gluten-free beer option.

Individuals with celiac disease must strictly avoid all sources of gluten to prevent intestinal damage over time. For those with gluten sensitivity, consuming beers like Michelob ULTRA Organic may potentially cause adverse reactions.

Overall, those adhering to a gluten-free diet for medical reasons or by choice should avoid Michelob ULTRA Organic and opt for a certified gluten-free beer instead. While specialty beers labeled as low-gluten or “crafted to remove gluten” may seem like a grey area, Michelob ULTRA Organic clearly contains standard amounts of gluten.


In summary, here are the key facts on Michelob ULTRA Organic’s gluten content:

– Brewed with gluten-containing grains, specifically malted barley
– No gluten-free labeling or gluten testing data available
– Likely contains thousands of ppm of gluten based on ingredients
– Not considered gluten-free or safe for gluten-free diets
– Those avoiding gluten should choose certified gluten-free beer options instead

While many common mass-produced beers like Michelob ULTRA Organic are off-limits for gluten-sensitive drinkers, the gluten-free beer market continues to expand. There are more quality gluten-free beer styles available today than ever before in a range of flavors.

Beer drinkers following a gluten-free diet can still enjoy delicious lagers, ales, IPAs and more. Just be sure to look for beers certified gluten-free by reputable third party organizations, and check the ingredients list when in doubt.

With proper research and care in choosing beverages, both celiac and gluten-sensitive individuals can safely enjoy gluten-free beers with confidence. For the gluten-averse beer lover, it’s an exciting time with more options now available. While mainstream beers like Michelob ULTRA Organic may remain off-limits, there are plenty of tasty gluten-free brews to discover.

Leave a Comment