What alcohol can I drink?
Cider, wine, sherry, spirits, port and liqueurs are gluten free.
Distilled spirits only contain gluten if gluten containing ingredients are added after the distillation process. In this case, there is labelling legislation that ensures the product label clearly states if wheat, barley, rye or oats have been added.
Distillation involves prolonged heating to produce a vapour and different components will vaporise at different temperatures so they can be separated. The vapour is then collected and cooled to form a distillate (liquid alcoholic drink).
Gluten does not form a vapour so even if the starting ingredient is wheat, barley or rye, gluten does not pass into the final distilled liquid.
Drinks with an alcoholic strength by volume (abv) of more than 1.2% do not have to list all ingredients. If they contain an allergen (including gluten containing cereals) they must declare this on the packaging, for example ‘contains wheat’.
An exception, is if the name of the drink contains the name of the allergen, for example ‘wheat beer’, then a statement, ‘contains wheat’ is not required. It should however be clear on the packaging which allergens are present.
Beer, lagers, stouts and ales are not distilled and undergo a different process known as fermentation and contain varying amounts of gluten and are not suitable for a gluten free diet but there are gluten free options available.
There are two types of gluten free beer, naturally gluten free beer and gluten removed gluten free beer. For both types, by law, manufacturers can only label a beer gluten free if it contains 20 ppm or less of gluten. In addition, a gluten removed gluten free beer made from barley must, by allergen labelling law, state on the label that it ‘contains barley’. For more information about fermented, hydrolysed products please read our article.
Specially manufactured gluten free beers, lagers and ales are available and are listed in Section 1 of our Food and Drink Guide, in our Live Well Gluten Free app and online Food and Drink Information.
Alcohol can have side effects whether or not you have coeliac disease. Information on sensible drinking can be found on the NHS website.
More information on alcohol can be found on our website.
Find out more about analysis of gluten in fermented and hydrolysed GF products here.
This information is based on the advice of our Food Standards Committee, Health Advisory Council and/or the Prolamin Working Group