Is Beer Engineered to Remove Gluten Actually Gluten Free?

Here’s some food—er, drink—for thought for all you gluten-free happy-hour revelers. Our friends over at Foobooz have an interesting piece about a beer additive called Brewers’ Clarex that breaks down gluten in beer and brings the gluten levels low enough to technically make certain beers gluten-free. The stuff apparently gets the gluten count down to less than ten parts per million, below recommended levels for being a food product to be considered gluten-free.

But—surprise, surprise—it’s not quite that simple. Foobooz asks:

So is this the magic bullet to bring IPAs back to celiac sufferers? Well that’s where it gets hairy, very hairy. The primary question is about the testing of fermented beverages for gluten. A recent webinar from celiac disease expert Tricia Thompson, MS, RD, about gluten labeling of alcoholic beverages points out some of the complexities in labeling and testing for gluten in alcohol. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently has no policy for gluten-free labeling and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has only just issued an interim policy on labeling alcoholic beverages. That policy allows for labeling to state “processed to remove gluten” if a detailed description of the process used to remove gluten is provided and testing results are supplied. These policies are also considered controversial and somewhat lacking. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) points out that the tests currently used for measuring gluten content in foods have not been scientifically validated for use in measuring the gluten content of alcoholic beverages. The NFCA stresses that more research is needed to identify a scientifically validated method for testing gluten content of barley-based, ‘gluten-reduced’ beers.

Interesting, right? Swing over here to see which clarex-laced brews might technically be gluten-free, even if they don’t advertise it. And tell me: Do you buy it?