The first time your doctor says those words-gluten free- can be a moment of panic and dismay. What all will you have to give up, how difficult will this be? The introduction to the gluten-free lifestyle is a challenge. Learning to read labels, foregoing so many favorite foods and restaurants, finding out just how prevalent gluten is in our everyday lives. Whether Celiac, gluten-intolerant or otherwise, this is a learning process. My own began about eight months ago, after five years of illness and near disability. As difficult as it seemed at times to make the transition, I can look at it now as one of the most wonderful transformative moments of my life.
The most treacherous categories are beer, whiskey, and flavored spirits. Most, nearly all, beer is brewed from hops, barley, and malt. As beer is not distilled, all of the gluten components remain in the final product, unless removed through a process I will not try to explain today. But do not dismay! There are gluten free beers available! Some are brewed from sorghum, and are therefore naturally GF. St. Peter’s sorghum and Dogfish Head Tweason are just some examples that can be found at certain Twin Liquors. Green’s makes a variety of gluten free beers based on rice and Buckwheat. If your favorite Twin Liquors doesn’t carry them, don’t be afraid to ask. You are the reason we are here, and we will be happy to track them down or order them for you. Other GF options in beer are due to the previously mentioned “process” but are consistently tested to remain at less than the 20ppm that is the standard for GF labeling: Widmer “Omission,” available in a Lager or Pale Ale, and Estrella Damm Daura- but be careful with this one, as there is an Estrella Damm that is not GF! Make sure it is the Daura!
Ciders are a wonderful option and are naturally gluten free. There has been a recent explosion in Craft ciders, and there is sure to be one to suit your taste. They can range from extremely dry to pretty sweet, depending on the fermented fruit they come from- be it pear or apple, and which varieties and methods are used. Some particular favorites of my own are the Harpoon, a drier apple cider, Ace organic apple and Ace Joker, and the recent line of pear ciders from Fox Barrel, one of which has added Black Currant and ginger and is a refreshing change of pace. Do not mistake Cider for Lambic or malt beverages, these do contain gluten.
As far as spirits go, some are naturally GF, but nearly all are rendered GF by the distillation process. The gluten protein is very heavy and sticky, part of why it is so dangerous for the intolerant. During distillation, the heavy protein is most often left behind. Most distilled spirits are actually safe. This changes considerably if colorings or flavorings are added to the product after distillation.
Naturally gluten free spirits, as long as they are not otherwise flavored, include: 100% Agave tequilas, brandies, cognacs, rums, and potato/grape/corn based vodkas. All of these are distilled from a base which does not naturally contain gluten. Always be on the lookout, however, for “caramel food coloring” or “caramel flavor” as these do not have to identify their source. Not all product that contains these are bad, one just has to know the source.
There are also spirits which may initially include gluten, but in their final distilled product test at less than required levels. Some of these include Smirnoff Vodka(base) at less than 6%, Absolut vodka, Bailey’s, …this list is actually extensive, and I will try to address this soon!
If you are a whiskey aficionado, my best recommendation is to stick with Bourbons. The rules concerning the labeling and distillation/production of bourbon include laws on having no added flavors or colorings to the final or initial distillate. This means that no potentially gluten-laden ingredient will be added to the product you purchase. These rules do not necessarily apply to other whiskies, such as Scotch, Canadian, or Irish whiskies.
I am committed to working with Twin Liquors to help update our systems and increase the education regarding Celiac/gluten intolerant understanding, and am available at the Lakeway location should you have any concerns or questions. I hope you all have the positive experience that I have enjoyed through this journey! Knowing there are still so many options only makes it better!
While Twin Liquors finds the Munchyy list to be comprehensive, it cannot be held responsible for its accuracy. If you have severe gluten allergies, you must check with your doctor and the producer to ensure you are safe to consume.