Alternatives to Alcohol Made with Wheat

Those who are diagnosed with Celiac Disease must confront a new lifestyle that involves a limited menu for both food and drink.  Adjusting to a gluten free lifestyle may be hard enough for fans of bread heavy meals, though there are gluten free alternatives.  There is an added difficulty for those who choose to imbibe on occasion.  Many alcoholic beverages are made with wheat, and/or barley, which are huge no-nos when confronting a gluten allergy.  There is hope though, as some drinks remain on the safe list, and there are plenty of alternatives for the rest.

Wine is safe in almost all cases.  Of course, it is always best to double check and make sure that the wine was not made using old barrels previously used to store beer.  So few commercially available wines fit into this category that there really is no need to even check.

Hard alcohol is also for the most part safe.  Something like Rye Whiskey is obviously an exception.  Look for alternatives like Vodka to use in mixed drinks, or, research specific types of Whiskey, as some of them remove gluten through the distillation process, making them safe.  The best bet is to just avoid Whiskey all together.

Beer is the category that takes the hardest hit.  Most beers are made with either wheat extract, barley extract, or the whole grains.  All of these contain gluten, and therefore cannot be consumed.  There is hope, though.  First, there are drinks like hard apple cider, which mimic beer in every way but the flavor.  Secondly, beer can be brewed with a wheat alternative, such as sorghum.  The problem with the sorghum based beers is that the taste typically is not all that great.  They tend to be weak, watery, and just a little off.  As is the case with most things in life, certain brands are better than others, and shopping around may lead to a positive result.  The last great beer alternative is to consume beer brewed with deglutenized barley.  This is exactly what it sounds like.  The huge upside is that everything about these beers is the same, except that there is no gluten.  The major downside is that the process is expensive, and the extra cost is passed on to the consumer.

Beer fans suffering from a wheat allergy should try to stay optimistic.  Gluten free products are relatively new in the grand scheme of things, and all products, alcoholic or otherwise, are being improved upon daily.  Sooner or later, a good gluten free beer will be available and cost effective.