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Gluten-free beer is a thing

Millions of people around the world love their beer – but their beer doesn’t love them back.

As gluten becomes a target of the health-conscious, and coeliac disease affects many others, beer becomes a forbidden indulgence.

<p>Sorghum fields. Image: <a href="">Melanie Cook</a>&nbsp;</p>

Sorghum fields. Image: Melanie Cook 

Coeliac disease is a chronic digestive disorder that affects the body’s ability to process wheat protein. Sufferers can experience terrible stomach pains when they eat gluten.

Gaining a “beer belly” is also not ideal and sexy if you're going for the six-pack look, which means those trying to live a healthy lifestyle avoid drinking it. 

But this is fast changing.

With the increasing popularity of gluten-free products, breweries have seized the opportunity and, more and more, are producing gluten-free beers.

As a result, gluten-free beer is increasingly becoming a big thing in the growing basket of gluten-free products in the world.

Traditional brewing methods use wheat or barley, which contain gluten. Grains that do not contain gluten – sorghum, corn, rice, millet and buckwheat – are used as alternatives when brewing gluten-free beer.

<p>Nothing&nbsp;tastes&nbsp;as refreshing&nbsp;as a cold beer. Image: <a href="">ChathuraW</a></p>

Nothing tastes as refreshing as a cold beer. Image: ChathuraW

A number of craft breweries in different parts of the world make gluten-free beer. Ipswich Ale Breweries in the US makes the Celia Saison gluten-free beer, using sorghum syrup and orange peel. In Spain, Estrella Damm Dura beer is made with barley malt and gluten is removed through a specialised brewing process. The process of removing gluten is common in Europe.

It’s even been made easy for home brewers. In some countries, home-brewing kits containing sorghum syrup, hops and yeast, among other things, are available. A simple search online can also get you recipes for brewing different kinds of gluten-free beers.

While one can easily find gluten-free baked foods and pastas in South Africa, this is not yet the case for beer.

South Africa’s first and only gluten-free beer so far entered the scene two years ago. Red Sky’s Goshawk gluten-free beer is brewed in the same style as pale ale, using sorghum and maize malt.

Of course, gluten-free beer has been brewed in South Africa for centuries. The umqombothi of the Xhosa and Zulu cultures is made with sorghum rather than wheat.

To sample this gluten-free beer today, pay the World of Beer a visit and experience it as part of our award-winning beer tour.

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