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What alcohol is gluten-free?

Abbey Stanford profile photo
Specialist Health Editor at Bupa UK
10 May 2022
Next review due May 2025

If you have coeliac disease, you’ll need to avoid gluten completely. But does this mean you can’t have any alcohol? Here I’ll explore which types of alcohol you should avoid on a gluten-free diet and share a few gluten-free alternatives you could try instead.

Whilst drinking too much can cause health issues, it’s good to know which kinds of drinks you can enjoy occasionally if you’re avoiding gluten.

What is gluten? Gluten is a type of protein found in some grains such as wheat and rye. You might be advised by a doctor to avoid gluten if you have a health condition such as coeliac disease. If you have coeliac disease, it’s very important that you don’t eat or drink anything with gluten in – including some types of alcohol. But otherwise, there’s no need to cut out gluten from your diet. This is because many sources of gluten, such as wholegrains, also contain fibre, as well as key nutrients including B and E vitamins.

What alcohol should I avoid on a gluten-free diet?

Some alcoholic drinks use grains that contain gluten to produce their alcohol content. And other types of alcohol might come into contact with gluten during processing. This includes:

  • most beer, larger, stouts and ales – as these are usually made from fermented wheat, barley and rye grains
  • any drinks (usually craft beers) containing spelt or kamut – which are both grains that contain gluten
  • any drinks which state they may contain traces of gluten – as even small amounts can still make you unwell

What alcohol can I drink with coeliac disease?

If you’re following a gluten-free diet, it’s important to check your food and drink labels carefully. But you can usually enjoy the occasional:

  • glass of wine
  • cider
  • distilled spirit such as vodka or gin
  • malt whiskey – despite being made from barley, the distillation process should remove the gluten
  • gluten-free beer

Gluten is classed as one of the UK’s main 14 allergens. This means that legally it must be clearly displayed on all food and drink packaging. So, if you order an alcoholic drink, you can check the label to make sure it’s gluten-free.

What is gluten-free beer made from?

Gluten-free beer comes in two forms. One form is naturally gluten-free. This means the alcohol is produced by fermenting a non-gluten containing grain, such as hops. The other form is made from a grain that contains gluten, such as barley, which has had the gluten removed after production. Either way, these gluten-free drinks won’t affect your coeliac disease.

Am I drinking too much?

Remember that it’s important to stick to the weekly alcohol recommendations. This will help to prevent the physical and mental health issues linked to drinking too much. In the UK, guidelines advise you not to drink more than 14 units spread across the week. This should also include several alcohol-free days.

If you’re worried about how much you are drinking, it might be a sign that you need some support. Speak to a GP about your drinking. There are also organisations such as Drinkline and Alcoholics Anonymous that you might find helpful.


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Abbey Stanford profile photo
Abbey Stanford (she/her)
Specialist Health Editor at Bupa UK

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