Is Stone Delicious IPA really gluten-free?

Gluten-free beers have exploded in popularity in recent years as more people adopt gluten-free diets. For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, finding a tasty gluten-free beer can be a challenge. Stone Brewing’s Delicious IPA claims to be gluten-free, but is it really safe for people with gluten issues?

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, gluten is harmless. But for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten triggers an autoimmune reaction that damages the small intestine.

Celiac disease affects around 1% of the population. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity may impact 6-10% of people. The only treatment for celiac disease or gluten sensitivity is adopting a strict lifelong gluten-free diet. Even small amounts of gluten from cross-contamination can cause issues.

Why is gluten an issue in beer?

Standard beers are made from barley malt, a gluten-containing grain. Gluten-free beers are made from substitutes like sorghum, buckwheat, rice, corn, or millet. But the brewing equipment and facilities may also carry gluten residues from non-gluten-free beers.

Any detectable gluten is a problem for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. To qualify as gluten-free, regulations state foods must contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. But some experts advise even lower thresholds under 10 or 5 ppm for sensitive individuals.

So is Stone Delicious IPA gluten-free?

According to Stone Brewing, Delicious IPA is crafted to be gluten-free. It is brewed from brown rice and buckwheat, certified gluten-free ingredients. Stone states the beer contains less than 20 ppm gluten.

However, Delicious IPA does not carry any gluten-free certifications and is not recommended by groups like Most celiac disease experts also caution against assuming it is safe.

The issues are the brewing process and testing methods. While the ingredients may be gluten-free, the equipment and facilities likely have gluten contamination that could introduce trace amounts into the beer. The ELISA antibody testing used by Stone is also not sensitive enough to detect below 20 ppm.

What do celiac disease and gluten sensitivity experts say?

Most experts advise exercising caution with Stone Delicious IPA if you require a gluten-free diet:

  • Dr. Stefano Guandalini, Founder of University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, states there is no evidence Delicious IPA is gluten-free and it should be avoided.
  • Mayo Clinic recommends not relying on the gluten-free claim for Delicious IPA.
  • maintains a list of unsafe gluten-free beers that includes Delicious IPA.
  • GlutenDude, a reputable celiac blogger, strongly advises against drinking Delicious IPA due to gluten risk.

The Beyond Celiac and Celiac Disease Foundation also warn about assuming gluten-free claims from breweries using shared equipment are safe.

What about other “gluten-removed” beers?

In addition to Stone Delicious, beers like Omission, Glutenberg, and Green’s use proprietary processes to remove gluten from barley-based brews. But most experts agree they lack adequate evidence to be considered gluten-free:

  • Omission claims less than 20 ppm but has received mixed results in independent lab testing.
  • Glutenberg provides lab reports showing less than 20 ppm but uses the ELISA method with questionable accuracy for low gluten.
  • Green’s reports under 20 ppm but does not share independent validation.

At best, these gluten-removed beers exist in a grey area not recommended for those with celiac disease or gluten issues requiring strict diet control. The lack of transparency and potential for cross-contamination means the risk outweighs the reward.

What beers are safer gluten-free options?

Rather than gambling on gluten-removed beers, individuals requiring gluten-free need reliable options produced in dedicated facilities. Safest options verified under 20 ppm gluten with sensitive PCR testing include:

Beer Gluten ppm Certifications
Ghostfish Brewing Below 5 Tested with R5 ELISA and PCR
Alt Brew Below 5 Tested with R5 ELISA and PCR
Ground Breaker Brewing Below 5 America’s first dedicated gluten-free brewery

Beers certified gluten-free from breweries like New Planet and Glutenberg also rate as safer picks. Those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should choose validated options that fit their comfort level for potential cross-contact.

Should those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity drink Delicious IPA?

The consensus among experts is clear: Stone Delicious IPA and other gluten-removed beers are not recommended for individuals requiring a gluten-free diet. At best, they exist in a grey area and carry an unacceptable level of risk.

For those with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or who’ve eliminated gluten for other reasons, it’s best to choose brews with documented gluten testing below 20 or 10 ppm. Or opt for ciders, wine, spirits, or gluten-free breweries not using shared equipment.

While the gluten-free claims may create FOMO, no beer is worth a reaction or compromising your health. If in doubt, leave it out.

The bottom line

Delicious IPA markets itself as a gluten-free beer, but lacks independent certification and transparency about gluten testing that would offer confidence for gluten-sensitive drinkers. The brewing processes and facilities are also highly likely to carry gluten cross-contact risks.

Rather than chance it on the gluten-free claims of Delicious IPA, those with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or similar dietary needs should stick to brews validated under 20 ppm or ideally under 10 ppm gluten. Why play Russian roulette with your gut when so many guaranteed winners are out there?

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