Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is ingested. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. When someone with celiac disease eats gluten, their immune system responds by attacking the small intestine. This can lead to damage of the villi, which are small finger-like projections that line the small intestine and absorb nutrients from food. This damage makes it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients, which can lead to symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, weight loss, fatigue and anemia. The only treatment for celiac disease is following a strict gluten-free diet, avoiding all foods and drinks containing gluten. This includes avoiding most beers, ales, lagers and malt beverages, as they contain gluten from barley or other gluten-containing grains. However, there are some gluten-free alcoholic beverage options for those with celiac disease.
Beers to Avoid
Most beers, ales, lagers and malt beverages contain gluten and must be avoided by those with celiac disease, including:
- Wheat beers
- Malt beverages
These types of beer are made with barley, wheat or rye, or processed with gluten-containing additives, flavorings or preservatives that make them unsafe for celiacs. Some specific brands of beer that contain gluten and should be avoided include:
- Pabst Blue Ribbon
- Sam Adams
Even beers labeled “gluten-free” can be risky due to cross-contamination. The safest option is to avoid all conventional beers.
Gluten-Free Beer Options
While most conventional beers are off-limits, there are some gluten-free beer options made from grains like sorghum, buckwheat and rice that are safe for those with celiac disease when consumed in moderation. Some specific gluten-free beer brands include:
- Bard’s Tale Beer
- Dogfish Head Tweason’ale
- Ghostfish Brewing Company
- Greenview Brewing Glutenberg
- Holidaily Brewing Co.
- New Belgium Glutiny
- Omission Beer
- Redbridge Beer
It’s important to note that while these brands advertise themselves as “gluten-free,” the facilities making them may also process gluten-containing beers. Sensitive individuals should consume these brands cautiously. Calling the manufacturer to inquire about testing and processing procedures can help identify the safest options.
Hard Ciders and Wine to Avoid
In addition to beer, some ciders and wines also contain gluten and should be avoided. Dangerous options include:
- Ciders or wines containing barley or wheat
- Flavored ciders with gluten-based additives
- Ciders processed at facilities that also handle gluten
- Wines that have come into contact with gluten during processing, such as Those fined using gluten-based agents
Specific brands to avoid include Woodchuck Amber Cider, Strongbow Cider, Gansett Cecilia cider, Angry Orchard ciders and wines fined with gluten-containing ingredients like isinglass. Cross-contamination is a concern during cider and wine processing, so those with celiac disease need to research brands carefully and call manufacturers with questions.
Gluten-Free Wine and Cider Options
There are many gluten-free ciders and wines that are safe for those with celiac disease. Look for:
- Ciders made from apples, pears or other gluten-free ingredients
- Wines made from grapes or other fruits/plants that don’t contain gluten
- Organic wines and ciders, which have lower likelihood of cross-contamination
- Products that are explicitly labeled “gluten-free” and process in dedicated gluten-free facilities.
Some gluten-free cider and wine brands include:
- Ace Ciders
- Angry Orchard Cider (some flavors)
- Crispin Ciders (some flavors)
- Woodchuck Ciders (some flavors)
- Bold Rock Hard Cider
- Any most conventional grape wines like Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay, etc.
Again, those with celiac disease need to research brands to identify ciders and wines made from gluten-free ingredients in facilities that avoid cross-contamination. Calling manufacturers provides the most reliable information.
Liquors/Spirits to Avoid
Most straight distilled liquor and spirits are gluten-free, but there are some exceptions. People with celiac disease should avoid:
- Grain alcohols: whiskey, bourbon, vodka, gin, etc. made from wheat, barley, rye or other gluten grains.
- Flavored liquors and cocktails with gluten-based additives
- Distilled gluten grain alcohols even if highly purified
- Liquors processed on equipment shared with gluten-containing alcohols
- Any liquor that includes gluten on the label
Specific liquors with gluten to avoid include grain-based vodkas like Absolut, Grey Goose and Tito’s, as well as whiskey/bourbon brands like Jack Daniel’s. Flavored rums and other liqueurs may also contain undisclosed gluten from additives.
Gluten-Free Liquor Options
There are many gluten-free liquor options, including:
- Vodka made from grapes, potatoes, sugar cane
- Gin and tequila made from grapes, agave
- Rum made from sugar cane
- Brandy and cognac from grapes
- Gluten-free labeled whiskey: Koval, Old Forester
- Verified gluten-free flavored liquors
Some gluten-free liquor brands include:
- Tito’s Vodka
- Grey Goose Vodka
- Chopin Vodka
- Bombay Sapphire Gin
- Patron Tequila
- Bacardi Rum
- Koval Whiskey
As with other alcohols, those with celiac disease need to research distilled liquor brands and distilling processes carefully to identify the safest gluten-free options. Calling manufacturers directly provides the best information.
Malt Vinegars and Soy Sauce to Avoid
In addition to alcohol itself, those with celiac disease need to avoid certain vinegars and condiments containing malt from barley and other gluten grains, including:
- Malt vinegar
- Balsamic vinegar
- Rice wine vinegar
- Soy sauce
- Teriyaki sauce
Even in small amounts, these condiments can trigger reactions or lead to intestinal damage. Look for gluten-free substitutes instead.
Gluten-Free Vinegar and Soy Sauce Options
There are many gluten-free vinegar and soy sauce alternatives, such as:
- Apple cider vinegar
- Distilled white vinegar
- Wine vinegar
- Sherry vinegar
- Gluten-free labeled balsamic vinegar
- Coconut aminos
- Tamari soy sauce
- Liquid aminos
Specific gluten-free brands include Marukan Rice Vinegar and Kikkoman Gluten-Free Soy Sauce. Reading labels carefully and contacting manufacturers provides the most certainty something is gluten-free.
In addition to avoiding direct sources of gluten, those with celiac disease need to be cautious of cross-contamination when consuming alcohol:
- Avoid beers from shared taps at bars and restaurants
- Inspect glasses and containers for gluten residue
- Don’t share alcohol containers with others
- Ask about ingredients and preparation at bars
- Wash hands before and after drinking
Taking precautions helps minimize accidental gluten exposure when consuming alcohol.
Beyond avoiding gluten, people with celiac disease should take other precautions around alcohol:
- Drink in moderation – alcohol impacts nutrient absorption
- Consume alcohol with food – reduces intestinal irritation
- Stick to clear liquors – less potential for additives
- Check labels carefully for allergens
- Research brands and manufacturing processes
- Call manufacturers with any questions
Following a gluten-free diet entails vigilance, but those with celiac disease can still enjoy alcoholic beverages in moderation by making informed choices.
Celiac disease requires avoiding gluten from wheat, barley, rye and contaminated products. This means most conventional beers, ales, lagers and malt beverages are off-limits due to containing gluten. However, there are some gluten-free beer options made from sorghum, buckwheat and rice that are safe in moderation. Many ciders, wines and liquors are also safe if care is taken to choose brands made from gluten-free ingredients in facilities that avoid cross-contamination. Checking labels, contacting manufacturers and being aware of cross-contamination risks allows those with celiac disease to enjoy alcoholic beverages safely. With the right precautions, having celiac disease doesn’t mean having to avoid alcohol entirely.