Cheers! Gluten-free beers that don’t leave a bad taste in your mouth

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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Anyone fancy a gluten-free beer? While it might not sound particularly appealing, for many Britons who need to avoid gluten for their gut health, if they crave a crisp pint then it’s pretty much all that’s on offer.

Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye that can cause a host of digestive issues.

And while normal beer contains just a fraction of the gluten found in bread, for example, its main ingredient of grain malted barley is enough to potentially trigger serious problems.

It’s no lie that gluten-free beers have always tasted a bit, for want of a better word, weird – lacking the bitter edge of the real thing.

But no longer, as breweries have developed an enzyme, called Brewers Clarex, that can be added to break down the gluten.

Sophie Medlin, a consultant dietician and director of the City Dietitians clinic in London, says: ‘It’s been really good to see all the new gluten-free beers on the market. The fact there’s such a wide number means people also have a choice and can find one they like.’

So in a bid to discover the best, The Mail on Sunday has enlisted the help of drinks expert Aidy Smith, host of Amazon TV series The Three Drinkers.

1 Peroni Nastro Azzurro Gluten-Free Lager. 5% ABV, £7 for four 330ml bottles, sainsburys.co.uk

A traditional lager. Peroni calls it ‘a crisp and refreshing beer crafted with passion and flair’.

Aidy’s verdict: ‘A somewhat bland lager that is noticeably different to the original. It has the same citrus taste of regular Peroni that makes it such a popular beer, but it is lighter and also has a slightly bitter after-taste.’

Closeness to real beer: 5/10

2 Old Speckled Hen Gluten-Free. 4.8% ABV, £2.25 for one 500ml bottle, sainsburys.co.uk

2 Old Speckled Hen Gluten-Free. 4.8% ABV, £2.25 for one 500ml bottle, sainsburys.co.uk

An English ale. Greene King Brewery says: ‘Old Speckled Hen has been specially crafted to be free from gluten without compromising on the flavour.’

Aidy’s verdict: ‘A decent beer, but different to the original and let down by a slightly bitter after-taste.’

Closeness to real beer: 6/10

3 Daura Damm Gluten-Free Lager. 5.4% ABV, £1.80 for one 330ml can, waitrose.com

3 Daura Damm Gluten-Free Lager. 5.4% ABV, £1.80 for one 330ml can, waitrose.com

A traditional lager. Daura says: ‘Daura Damm is the world’s most-awarded gluten-free beer.’

Aidy’s verdict: ‘A sweet, malty beer that could easily be the real deal. However, despite the prizes it has won, it just doesn’t seem to have enough flavour. I’m not sure it’s something I’d buy myself.’

Closeness to real beer: 7/10

4 Brewdog Punk IPA Gluten-Free. 5.4% ABV, £6.25 for four 330ml cans, tesco.com

4 Brewdog Punk IPA Gluten-Free. 5.4% ABV, £6.25 for four 330ml cans, tesco.com

A hoppy pale ale with caramel and tropical fruit flavours. Brewdog says: ‘This light, golden classic has been subverted with new-world hops to create an explosion of flavour.’

Aidy’s verdict: ‘A malty beer with tastes of liquorice and dark chocolate. This is a powerhouse of flavours. You would be shocked to discover it has no gluten. One of the best gluten-free beers I’ve tasted.’

Closeness to real beer: 8/10

5 Empress Premium British Lager. 4.5% ABV, £2.30 for one 330ml bottle, waitrose.com

5 Empress Premium British Lager. 4.5% ABV, £2.30 for one 330ml bottle, waitrose.com

A smooth pilsner-style lager. Empress says: ‘A stunning sandy hue with a delicate bitterness and hint of citrus and grass aromas.’

Aidy’s verdict: ‘This beer was a little flat and underwhelming. It’s a clash of sweet, sour and bitter. I could instantly tell this was not a regular lager – it lacks texture and is reminiscent of fizzy water with a bit of flavouring added in.’

Closeness to real beer: 4/10

6 Stella Artois Gluten-Free. 4.6% ABV, £5.55 for four 330ml bottles, tesco.com

6 Stella Artois Gluten-Free. 4.6% ABV, £5.55 for four 330ml bottles, tesco.com

A traditional lager. Stella Artois says: ‘Our brewmasters have removed the gluten, and with the same flavourful taste with a clean finish to be savoured by all.’

Aidy’s verdict: ‘I’m surprised at how similar this is to the normal Stella Artois. There are lemon, hops and pine-tasting notes there. If you like the original Stella Artois, you’ll enjoy this as well.’

Closeness to real beer: 7/10

7 Gipsy Hill Bandit Pale Ale. 3.4% ABV, £2.75 for a 440ml can, waitrose.com

A light pale ale. Gipsy Hill says: ‘It’s got zips of citrus zest with a soft, piney bitterness.’

Aidy’s verdict: ‘It’s on the lighter side with flavours of lemon rind, peach and apricot. I would never have guessed it was gluten-free – it tastes exactly how a pale ale should. A safe bet; my only criticism would be that it was somewhat bland.’

Closeness to real beer: 7/10

8 Jubel Beer Cut with Peach. 4% ABV, £2.10 for one 330ml can, tesco.com

A light lager with peach flavours. Jubel Beer says: ‘This nectar drips with juicy peaches that will delete your thirst.’

Aidy’s verdict: ‘The peach is a really enjoyable flavour, even if it is quite artificial. It tastes lighter than standard beers, but that shouldn’t take away from the fact that this is a well-produced and tasty beverage that serves its purpose.’

Closeness to real beer: 6/10

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