Most people enjoy going out with friends on the weekend or unwinding at happy hour to after a long day at work, but if you’re maintaining a gluten-free diet, the challenge of finding something you can drink when it comes to alcohol can make you want to stay home.
Fortunately, there are options, and we’re going to look at a few of them right now so you’ll know before you go out what is and isn’t on the menu for you.
It’s terrible news for you beer lovers, but unfortunately, majority of beers are off limits if you’re maintaining a gluten-free diet. Beer’s ingredients include hops and barley, neither of which are gluten-free. The news gets worse because virtually every beer available on the market today is a no-no for gluten-free dieters.
Some breweries are responding by crafting beers using a unique process that removes the gluten from the final stage of the brewing process, even though they’re initially made with hops and barley, although some are now made with buckwheat or sorghum, which contain little to no gluten.
When these gluten-free beers first hit the market, the consensus was that they tasted bland and lacked the body of traditional beers, but that’s beginning to change. As brewers become better and better at making these specialized beers, the taste coming out of some of these rivals those of traditional brews.
If you’re not digging the taste of these new gluten-free beers, there’s always the option to drink hard cider, which is a good beer substitute. These ciders are brewed with apples, peaches or other fruits rather than barley or hops.
A good cider can be more refreshing and lighter on your stomach than beer while still giving you that alcohol kick.
Spirits are a mixed bag when it comes to gluten-free diets. Some experts maintain most liquors are safe for those on gluten-free diets because the gluten is removed during the distilling process, however, because everyone suffering from celiac disease, or gluten intolerance reacts differently, some people have experienced a severe reaction after drinking liquor.
As mentioned, current thinking is that liquor such as whiskey or bourbon is gluten-free because the gluten is removed during distillation, while others maintain that if the distillation process isn’t done correctly, then you wind up with a product that could put those on gluten-free diets at risk of a reaction. Some people sensitive to gluten have enjoyed whiskey with no harmful effects, while others haven’t had it so easy.
If you want to be safe and not take any chances, your best bet is to drink spirits made without any gluten in the first place; these drinks include potato vodka, rum, and tequila because these drinks aren’t made with gluten in the first place.
Unlike beer and most spirits, wine is made from grape juice and is considered to be gluten-free. And while you should feel safe enjoying a nice glass of wine or two if you’re sensitive to gluten, you need to be aware that there are some wines that can cause trouble.
To help the wine age, some winemakers add flour or wheat paste to the barrels, which is going to be a problem for some people who suffer from a sensitivity to gluten. While it’s true that this process typically creates wine with less than 20 parts per million of gluten, you’re better off safe than sorry, so be sure to check out how old is the wine and if you can check with the winemaker, ask if they use this process to help age the wine. Most of the large winemakers today are sensitive to those who are on a gluten-free diet and will label their wines accordingly.
Another option is to go to your local winery if you have one and enjoy their offerings. Most hometown wineries don’t age their wines for years and years; instead, they focus on shorter aging times to sell more product. Many of these wineries age their wine for about 30-days, which is perfect if you’re on a gluten-free diet.
Lastly, consider that some winemakers add coloring or flavors to their wines, especially for after-dinner wines, which can contain gluten. If you’re unsure, again, it’s best to ask and to check that label to see if it’s certified gluten-free.
Having said that, wine is a perfect choice if you’re sensitive to gluten, and with the wide variety of flavors, there’s a wine for everyone to enjoy.
The Bottom Line
Getting out and enjoying a social drink with friends to have fun, relax, and shouldn’t be a stressful situation in which you worry about your drink making you sick or landing you in the hospital. If you stick to wines and spirits not made from gluten, such as rum, potato vodka, and tequila, or the many varieties of hard cider, you’ll be fine.
Just remember that whenever you’re in doubt, check the label, ask your waiter if you’re trying out a new restaurant, or look at the manufacturer’s website and always drink responsibly!