Is any Mexican beer gluten-free?

Gluten-free diets have become increasingly popular in recent years, with more and more people eliminating gluten for health or lifestyle reasons. For those who enjoy beer but need to follow a gluten-free diet, Mexican beers may seem like an appealing option. Mexico is known for its delicious beers like Corona, Modelo, Pacifico, and Dos Equis. But are any of these Mexican beers actually gluten-free?

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. For most people, gluten does not cause any issues or negative health effects. However, for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten can cause a range of unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms and other health problems.

People with celiac disease have an autoimmune reaction when they consume gluten, which damages the small intestine. This can lead to symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, vomiting, constipation, fatigue, and more. Over time, the damage to the intestines can also cause nutrient deficiencies, anemia, osteoporosis, and other complications.

Those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity may experience similar gastrointestinal symptoms after eating gluten, but they do not have the same autoimmune reaction or intestinal damage as seen in celiac disease.

For both groups, following a strict lifelong gluten-free diet is essential to manage symptoms and prevent further complications. This means eliminating foods and drinks made from gluten-containing grains, including many beers.

Gluten in beer

Gluten grains, especially barley, are core ingredients in most beer recipes. During the brewing process, the grains are malted and then steeped in hot water to convert their starches into fermentable sugars. The resulting sugary liquid is later fermented by brewer’s yeast.

While the gluten protein largely remains intact throughout regular beer production, most beers do contain trace amounts of gluten. The exact amount can vary between beer brands and styles depending on the ingredients and method used.

According to the FDA, foods labeled as “gluten-free” can contain up to 20 parts per million of gluten. However, recent research indicates that the threshold for safety should be lower for those with celiac disease, ideally under 10 ppm. This tiny amount of gluten can still cause issues for those who are highly sensitive.

For people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity who need to follow a strict gluten-free diet, regular beer is typically not considered safe for consumption due to the gluten content, even if it is relatively low compared to other glutenous grains like wheat.

Gluten-removed beer

Some companies create specialized “gluten-removed” beer through a proprietary process intended to eliminate or reduce the gluten content down to under 20 ppm.

Gluten is removed after the fermentation process using enzymes that break down the gluten proteins. The gluten-stripped beer is then usually put through extra filtration to help remove any remaining traces.

Some popular gluten-removed beer brands include Omission, Stella Artois Blume, and Stone Delicious IPA Gluten Reduced. Testing shows these products generally have less than 20 ppm of gluten, allowing them to be labeled as “gluten-free” per FDA standards.

However, there is debate around whether gluten-removed beer is safe for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, even if testing shows the gluten content is under 20 ppm. The process may not eliminate 100% of gluten proteins and there could be errors in testing procedures. Some experts recommend those with celiac disease still avoid beers labeled as gluten-removed or gluten-reduced as a precaution.

Individual tolerance varies too – some people may react to even tiny traces of gluten while others may be fine with gluten-removed beer. Those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should use caution and consult their doctor when considering gluten-removed beers.

Beers made from gluten-free grains

In addition to gluten-reduced beer, there are also some beers made using completely gluten-free grains instead of barley or wheat. These beers are produced using ingredients like sorghum, buckwheat, rice, corn, millet or quinoa instead of traditional glutenous grains.

Some examples of beers brewed from gluten-free grains include:

  • Redbridge by Anheuser Busch – Made with sorghum
  • Bard’s Beer – Made with sorghum
  • Ghostfish Brewing Company – Beers made with millet, rice, buckwheat
  • Glutenberg – Made with millet, rice, corn
  • Green’s Beer – Made with sorghum, buckwheat, rice
  • New Grist by Lakefront Brewery – Made with sorghum and rice

Since these beers do not contain barley or wheat, they are inherently gluten-free as long as no gluten-containing ingredients are added during processing. Beers made from certified gluten-free grains, without any additional gluten-containing additives, are generally considered safe for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

Of course, anyone with celiac disease or gluten issues should still check the brand specifications and production details carefully before consuming. Processes and ingredients can vary across brands and products. Those who are highly sensitive should look for beers certified as gluten-free by a third party testing organization to provide added assurance.

Are popular Mexican beers gluten-free?

Now that we’ve covered some background on gluten and beer, let’s look at some popular Mexican beer brands specifically. Here is the gluten status for some of the top Mexican beers on the market:


Corona is one of the most famous Mexican beers, known for its signature skinny, lime-topped bottles. However, standard Corona beer contains gluten since it is brewed from barley malt, corn, and hops.

Corona does have a gluten-removed version called Corona Gluten Free which uses a proprietary enzymatic process to reduce gluten content. Testing shows it contains under 20 ppm of gluten, allowing it to be labeled gluten-free. However, due to the potential for trace amounts of gluten, some experts still recommend those with celiac disease avoid it. Individual tolerance to gluten-removed beers can vary.


Modelo is another very popular Mexican beer brand, which produces beers like Modelo Especial, Modelo Negra, and Modelo Chelada. Modelo beers are brewed using barley malt and thus contain gluten.

At this time, Modelo does not offer any gluten-free beer options. Their products are not considered safe for those following a gluten-free diet.


Pacifico Clara is a light, refreshing pilsner-style lager brewed by the Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma Brewery which also makes Modelo and Victoria beers. Since Pacifico is made with barley malt, it contains gluten.

There are currently no gluten-free versions of Pacifico available. Those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should avoid it.

Dos Equis

Dos Equis is another classic Mexican beer known for its two main varieties – Dos Equis Lager and Dos Equis Amber. Both the lager and amber beers from Dos Equis contain gluten because they are brewed from malted barley.

Dos Equis does not yet produce any gluten-free beer options that would be safe for a gluten-free diet.


Victoria is a light Mexican lager also brewed by Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma. It is made using malted barley, corn, and hops. Victoria contains gluten due to the barley malt used in production.

There are currently no gluten-removed or gluten-free options available under the Victoria brand.


Tecate is another very popular light lager-style beer brewed in Mexico. It is produced by Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma using malted barley, corn, and hops so standard Tecate beers contain gluten.

Tecate does offer some gluten-removed beer options including Tecate Peak Reduced Gluten and Tecate Titan Reduced Gluten. As with other gluten-removed beers, these may contain trace amounts of gluten so caution is still advised for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.


Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma also produces Sol beer which is a bright, straw-colored Mexican lager. Sol is brewed using malted barley and hops so it contains gluten. There are no gluten-free alternatives currently offered under the Sol brand.


Estrella is a pilsner-style lager brewed by Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma in Mexico. Since it is produced using malted barley, Estrella contains gluten. Those with celiac disease or gluten issues should avoid it.


Cerveza Montejo is another classic Mexican pilsner made by Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma using malted barley, corn, and hops. It contains gluten and is not safe for a gluten-free diet.

Are any Mexican beers gluten-free? – The short answer

After reviewing the major Mexican beer brands and their gluten content, the short answer is no – there are currently no beers produced by the major Mexican beer companies that are 100% gluten-free and safe for those with celiac disease.

While a few brands like Corona and Tecate offer some “gluten-reduced” options, these still likely contain trace amounts of gluten and are questionable in terms of safety for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

The most popular Mexican lager beers from brands like Corona, Modelo, Pacifico, Victoria, Tecate, Dos Equis, Sol, Estrella, and Montejo are all brewed using gluten-containing grains, usually barley malt. They are not considered gluten-free.

Gluten-free Mexican-style beer alternatives

While the major Mexican beer brands are not gluten-free, there are some good gluten-free options for those who want to enjoy a Mexican-style lager or cerveza. Here are a few recommendations:

Estrella Damm Daura

Estrella Damm Daura is produced by Spanish brewery Estrella Damm but brewed to taste like a traditional Mexican lager. It is made from gluten-free grains including millet, rice, and corn. Estrella Damm Daura has been certified as gluten-free to under 10 ppm.

Celia Gluten Free Beer

Celia beer is produced using sorghum, rice, and hops so brewed to be gluten-free. Celia offers three Mexican-style lagers: Celia Amber Lager, Celia Dark Lager, and Celia Blonde Lager.

Amada Hard Cider

Amada Hard Cider is inspired by Mexican cider tradition using apples from Mexico and containing lime juice. Since it is made from apples, Amada Hard Cider is gluten-free. It offers some similar citrusy, refreshing flavors as Mexican lagers.

Ghostfish Grapefruit IPA

For those who enjoy wheat beers like Modelo Chelada with a grapefruit flavor, Ghostfish Grapefruit IPA is a gluten-free option brewed from millet with natural grapefruit flavors. It provides a citrusy, fruity profile.

Glutenberg American Pale Ale

Glutenberg Brewing crafts a range of gluten-free beers using corn, millet, buckwheat, rice and hops. Their American Pale Ale offers a crisp, easy-drinking option similar to Mexican lagers but without gluten.

Tips for ordering Mexican beer gluten-free

If you need to follow a gluten-free diet, here are some tips for ordering “cerveza” safely when dining out at Mexican restaurants:

– Ask specifically if there are any gluten-free beer options. Many restaurants may carry a gluten-free brand or variety.

– Double check that any beer labeled as “gluten-free” is certified as such by a reputable third-party testing organization.

– Verify that your beer was poured from an uncontaminated tap line and glass with no contact with gluten.

– Beware of cross-contamination. Opt for a bottled beer if possible.

– Consider bringing your own gluten-free beer or hard cider to the restaurant. Some establishments allow outside drinks with a small corkage fee.

– Try an alternate gluten-free Mexican drink like michelada with gluten-free beer, sangria, or margarita without beer in the recipe.

– Stick to “sin gluten” tequila and other distilled gluten-free spirits on cocktails. Avoid beer mixes.

– Confirm your meal comes sin gluten by communicating with your server about gluten-free needs.

The bottom line

While many popular Mexican lager beers contain gluten, there are still some good gluten-free options to choose from if you need or want to avoid gluten. Brands like Estrella Damm Daura, Celia, Amada, and Glutenberg offer gluten-free takes on Mexican cervezas.

Those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should use caution when considering beers marketed as “gluten-reduced” since they may still contain traces of gluten. When dining out, be sure to confirm your menu choices and beer selection are 100% gluten-free to stay safe.

With the right adjustments and choices, you can still enjoy delicious Mexican-inspired beer that works with your gluten-free lifestyle. Salud!

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