Do You Know What’s In Your Beer? A Guide to Healthier Beer (Gluten Free)
Do you know what’s really in your beer? Common additives are carcinogenic, can cause weight gain, diabetes, kidney damage, digestion problems, allergies, migraines and more. No fear! This guide to healthier beer shows you how to have your brew and drink it too! Gluten free beers with just four ingredients are better for you, without sacrificing flavor or fun.
This post was originally published in September 2017 and has been updated.
This post is sponsored by Omission. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make it possible for Root + Revel to provide free content and healthy living inspiration.
What’s better than a crisp, cold, refreshing beer in the hot summer weather?
Or better yet, on gameday! August will already kick off football season, and in my book football = beer.
Because what is a football game without beer? And buffalo sauce. And chili. Or both!
As much fun as drinking beer and watching the game can be though, I have to admit–as someone who tries to minimize their gluten intake, this time of year can also be a little stressful. And even though I’m much more flexible with eating gluten sometimes than I was a couple years ago, I still try to opt for ‘healthier’ when I do drink… because hangovers just get worse as you get older, amiright?!
But did you know that healthier beer DOES exist?!
Whether you have a gluten intolerance, or try to minimize your gluten intake for health reasons, or simply want a cleaner, delicious beer, I have news for you: you no longer have to give up beer!
If you care about what you put in your body, but also don’t want to sacrifice flavor, fun or feel guilty about indulging, there are a handful of healthier beers on the market that make drinking beer possible again.
Healthier Beer + Why You Should Switch
Just like with wine, when you drink beer, it’s unlikely that you know what’s actually in your glass.
The ingredients in beer are not required by law to be listed anywhere on the label and manufacturers have no legal obligation to disclose the ingredients or even the alcohol levels.
How crazy is that?! Especially when you consider all of the additives that are often found in beer. Check it out:
Common additives in beer: While beer in its purest form is made from grains, hops, yeast and water, there are tons of other ingredients used to clarify, stabilize, preserve, and enhance the color and flavor of beer. Here are a few:
- High fructose corn syrup, which is known to cause weight gain, cancer and diabetes, among other ills. (source)
- Foam stabilizers like Calcium Disodium EDTA (made from formaldehyde), which can cause kidney damage, dangerously low calcium levels, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, low blood pressure, skin problems, and fever. (source) Another dangerous stabilizer is Propylene Glycol (an ingredient found in anti-freeze), which some studies suggest can cause allergies and cell mutations, and affect the skin, kidneys and respiratory system.
- Artificial colors and dyes (including caramel color), which are petroleum based and can cause cancerous tumors, migraines, allergies, asthma, and hyperactivity.
- Processing aids like carrageenan (which can cause a wide variety of stomach disorders such as gastrointestinal inflammation, IBS and cancer) and isinglass, also known as fish swim bladders, and beaver anal glands (yeah… GROSS!)
- Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), which is a known carcinogen, endocrine disrupter, and killer of brain cells, which may also be linked to the development of cardiac problems, kidney problems, neurological disorders, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease. (source)
- Sulfites and anti-microbial preservatives, which are linked to allergies and asthma.
- Natural Flavors, which are anything but natural, and can contain any number of common allergens from animal products to dairy, soy, gluten, eggs, nuts, and shellfish, all without having to disclose to the consumer.
Furthermore, most beers are made with GMO grains, like corn, sugar and rice, most of which contain gluten, which can prove difficult for anyone with an allergy, intolerance or inflammation.
That’s why I’ve switched to Omission, which is made with just malted barley, hops, yeast and water. Real food. Real good!
Gluten Free Beer vs. Beer crafted to remove gluten
While some brands choose to use gluten-free grains like sorghum, buckwheat, rice, tapioca, or quinoa to make their beer, Omission’s handcrafted beers are made just like your favorite craft beers (from barley, hops, water and yeast), brewed using a unique process to remove gluten.
Once the beers are transferred to the fermentation tanks, they add a brewing enzyme called Brewers Clarex, which breaks apart the gluten protein chains. The beers are then packaged in a closed environment to eliminate any cross-contamination risk.
So what does this mean for you? First of all, it means the beers are DELICIOUS and full of flavor, tasting just like your favorite brews. So no sacrifice there.
Secondly, while the beers aren’t technically gluten-free, they are safe for anyone with a gluten intolerance to drink, even some Celiacs.
In fact, every batch of Omission has measured at levels less than 20ppm, the lowest level detectable by an independent lab using the R5 Competitive ELISA, the best test available.
Note: Although there is scientific evidence supporting this testing, the evidence is not conclusive. It’s important you make your own decision about the gluten risk in drinking beer, especially if you have Celiac Disease.
Shopping List: The Best Healthy Beer
- Swap Miller Lite/Coors Light (which contains corn syrup/dextrose) for Omission Ultimate Light Golden Ale. The new beer has 99 calories, 5 carbs, is crafted to remove gluten *and* tastes like a craft beer.
- Swap Stella Artois (contains caramel color) and Bud Light Lime (contains Corn, Hop Extract, and Natural Flavor) for Omission Lager, a refreshing and crisp beer, brewed in the traditional lager style. A versatile, easy-drinking beer, Omission Lager’s aromatic hop profile is perfect for those looking for a lighter and approachable beer style. Plus it contains just 134 calories, 10 grams carbs and 2 grams protein per 12-ounce serving.
- Swap Sierra Nevada (made with gluten; barley) for Omission Pale Ale. Bold and hoppy, this beer is a flavorful American Pale Ale brewed to showcase the Cascade hop profile. Amber in color, Omission Pale Ale’s floral aroma is complimented by a slightly sweet caramel malt body, making for a delicious craft beer. And it contains just 181 calories, 13 grams carbs and 2 grams protein per 12-ounce serving.
- Swap Lagunitas IPA (made with gluten; wheat) for Omission IPA, a bright, hop-forward Northwest Style IPA produced in the spirit of the original IPAs shipped from the UK to India in the late 1800’s. The heavy-handed use of Cascade and Summit hops give it notable pine, citrus, and grapefruit aromas and flavors, and the bitterness is just what you’ve come to love about IPAs, while still being balanced and smooth with the perfect level of malt sweetness. The finish is crisp, clean, and refreshing – it’s a true IPA lover’s IPA, and it contains 202 calories, 15 grams carbs and 2 grams protein per 12-ounce serving.
Disclaimer: Omission beers are fermented from grains containing gluten and crafted to remove gluten. The gluten content of these beers cannot be verified, and these products may contain gluten.
Find Omission near you with their handy Beer Finder!
What are your favorite ‘healthier’ or gluten-free beers? Let us know in the comments below!
Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser
Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I've linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust. There is no additional cost to you.