Gluten Free Alcohol questions are probably the most common in my inbox! I do like the odd Aperol or two myself 😉 I’ve gathered together all the “rules” for you to have a look over, with a little help from Coeliac UK (as always!).
Hope it helps and shout if you’ve got any questions – @jessicaskitchen_gf
What alcohol is not gluten free?
Unless its a “gluten free” version, there are 4 groups of things we can’t have. This includes:
I remember these with the acyronm “BALS!”… because I’ll certainly be saying that if I slip up and accidentally drink one haha.
What alcohol is gluten free?
Everything else!!!! Gluten Free Alcohol options include…
- Spirits (Vodka, Rum, Gin, Tequila, Pimms, Aperol, Sherry, etc)
- Whisky (incl malt Whisky)
The last 3 always shock people!!
Want a bit more info? This is from the Coeliac UK website: “Even when a cereal that contains gluten is used as an ingredient, all spirits are distilled during the manufacturing process and this process removes any trace of gluten. Therefore, all spirit drinks are safe for people with coeliac disease.”
The Exception to the Rule
There has to be an exception right?! The only thing to be wary of is when flavourings have been added to the alcohol AFTER the distillation process. In this case, the label would have to say “contains <insert allergen>!”.
The only one I’ve found is Tequila Rose Strawberry Cream. There’s more about labelling in point 3 below.
(1) Cocktails & Mixers
Be careful with:
- Coke, Squash, Cordials or any mixers – some cheaper brands contain gluten. All types of Coca-Cola and Pepsi are fine, but for example Tesco own and Coop own both are a no go. Coeliacs cannot have Barley Squash either.
- Cross Contamination from the shakers – if they’re making you a cocktail, have they properly washed the equipment in between uses? Could it have had gluten in it before?
- Are the toppings gluten free? – Cocktails come with all sorts these days – biscuit crumbs, caramel drizzle, even candy floss! Check the toppings are gluten free 🙂
(2) What’s the deal with Gluten Free Beer?
There are 2 types: (1) the naturally gluten free ones and (2) the ones that contain low levels of gluten so are coeliac safe.
The second type will say “contains barley” on the label which can be confusing – e.g. GF Peroni. It has to say “contains barley” by law because it does contain the allergen, but the level of gluten is soooo tiny (less than 20 parts per million) so they can also claim they are gluten free and therefore coeliac safe.
Theres a fab guide on Coeliac UK’s website with loads more info on the production of gluten free beer here.
(3) Fun Fact: Allergy Labelling on Alcohol
Did you know this? Drinks with an abv of more than 1.2% don’t have to list ALL ingredients but they HAVE to declare any allergens on the packaging, for example ‘contains wheat’, making it super easy for us to know when something is off limits!!
Exception to the rule? if the name of the drink contains the name of the allergen they do not have to do this, for example ‘wheat beer’ would not have to state it contains wheat but it does have to be clearly written.
What about the less than 1.2%? Same rules as food – they have to list all the ingredients and the allergens have to be in bold.
(3 – extra!) Tequila Rose
So we’ve said gluten free alcohol options include all spirits, whiskey, brandy and cider UNLESS there’s an allergen warning suggesting otherwise.
The only spirit I’ve found that has an allergy warning is “Tequila Rose Strawberry Cream” – the label says its ‘contains products of wheat’. Obviously it is possible they have included this label due to legal requirements and actually the level of gluten is less than 20 parts per million so it’s coeliac safe, … however I have contacted the company multiple times to confirm but yet to receive a reply, so for now I’ll assume its not safe!
**If you know of any others, please message me so I can add them here and prevent people being caught out!!!**
(3 – extra extra!!) Smirnoff Ice & Baileys
These are the sorts of drinks you should double check the labels for because whilst Baileys is Whisky based and Smirnoff Ice is Vodka, they both obviously have other bits added! However, you’ll be happy to know that neither have allergy warnings on their labels and both are gluten free as of the time I’m writing this!
Smirnoff causes problems when you google it because the US version is a different recipe and contains gluten, but I believe in the UK you’re safe.
(4) Drinking from the tap in a pub – cc risk
I have to admit, it wasn’t something I’d thought about. What if someone makes a shandy and sticks the lemonade pump into someones gluten-full beer?!!
Here’s the Coeliac UK advise: “Regarding the taps in the pubs, we would recommend speaking to the bar tender as each pub will be different. Additionally, if someone is unsure, we would also recommend to avoid.”
On a separate note, you should have a chat with the bar-tender anyway to make sure your coke is gluten free. You’re safe with Pepsi and Coke but several of the cheaper brands contain gluten.
(5) Wine and milk
If you’re dairy free, thought I’d quickly mention that some white wines contain milk (used in their filtering process) so wouldn’t be suitable. As with gluten, it will have to say on the label if it does contain milk.
(6) Gluten Free NON-Alcoholic Beer
Free Damm is the most popular option. Ambar, Jump/Ship and Big Drop Brew are also yummy looking options!
(7) One more thing
I asked you guys for your gluten free alcohol questions – some of the responses I had said “I’ve been drinking Peroni /Heineken/ Guiness and not had any side affects”.
They are NOT gluten free and if you’re coeliac, whilst you might not get any physical symptoms, they will likely be causing damage to your insides so don’t drink them guys! There’s enough other gluten free alcohol choices above 😉
**Want some more “Help” style posts? **
Click here to head to my “Help” section on the blog. It contains LOADS of posts, from handling eating out to reading labels and products you might not expect to be gluten free!**