Gluten is a protein that occurs naturally in grains such as wheat, barley and rye. As a pretty major ingredient of beer, you’d need to either start without gluten or take the gluten out during the brewing process to be GF free. The rules are pretty clear on what constitutes a product as gluten free; anything that has a lower gluten content than 20 parts per million (ppm).
When I was growing up (admittedly it was a while ago) there was very little choice in any sort of beers, never mind a whole range of gluten free varieties. Fast forward 40 years and our warehouse shelves are full of coeliac friendly beers ranging from low ABV pale ales to full bodied stouts. While most breweries have considered, or are producing at least one GF product, others have gone ‘full on’ gluten free.
The craft beer scene in Manchester is really thriving at the moment and two of the finest
exponents have firmly placed their flag in the gluten free camp. Brightside and Wildside in Heywood have a constantly rotating array of bottles and cans including a fantastic Helles lager and a brilliant raspberry ripple. You don’t need me to tell what the former tastes like, but the latter is like liquid ice cream!
Just 17 miles round the M60, First Chop Brewing have already outgrown two buildings in a matter of just six years. The brainchild of former chef Rik Garner, the output, whether in cask, keg or can is certified gluten free. While all their beers are excellent, the stand out brew for me is POP; a 5.4% IPA which has an army of fans on Ratebeer.com.
It is estimated that over 8 million people in Britain today are watching their gluten intake because they are coeliac sufferers or those simply making a lifestyle or dietary choice and this figure is growing fast. We’ve put together a great taster pack of GF beers featuring First Chop, Wildside and a host of other award winning regional brewers.