Low Gluten in Beer

test the gluten content of your beer

Some information about gluten test kits

Today I want to inform you about my experiences with the gluten test kits I use to test the level of gluten in beer.

According to my doctor the toughest for men with Celiac Disease is the avoidance of normal beer as beer naturally is brewed with barley and so they believe they cannot consume it anymore. When I was diagnosed with CD I had the same reaction. I don’t like strong alcohol or wine but I really enjoyed a beer with friends. In our culture beer is a popular drink when socialising. It’s not about getting drunk but moderate consumption of beer in good company gives you a good feeling.

I gave up wheat containing pasta, pizza and bred – not so difficult for pizza but I really loved pasta and the numerous wonderful German bread types. So I said OK I gave up good food already but is it true that I cannot drink normal beer anymore and have to drink this horrible tasting and expensive gf beers brewed with artificial ingredients, glucose syrup and whatever? And now after more than one year testing beer on its gluten content I am convinced that a lot of normal beers are suitable for a lot of Celiacs. Not for all – there are people who react on the tiniest amount of gluten. But I believe the majority can drink a lot of the normal beers available without getting reactions or intestinal damage. But it definitely makes sense to test your favourite beer on the gluten level. There are a number of test kit manufacturers and here is what I experienced:

Gluten-in-Food
Imutest Gluten Test Kit Imutest Gluten Test Kit Imutest Gluten Test Kit
Manufacturer: Imutest
Costs: GBP 52.50 for a 5 test kit
Antibodies used: Skerritt
Method: Lateral Flow Through
My experience: Sensitive test kit with very low detection limit (1-2 ppm). Works with test spot intensity to determine level of gluten.
Hints and tips:
-according to Imutest the extraction step can be skipped for beer as gluten in beer is already solubilized
-if you use the pipette to measure the sample let the beer settle in a glass for 30 minutes or so to avoid a bubbling effect when you fill the pipette
Here are some more information and pictures.

GlutenTox Home
GlutenTox Home Kit GlutenTox Home Kit GlutenTox Home Kit
Manufacturer: Biomedal
Costs: USD 70 for a 5 test kit (International), EUR 42 for a 5 test kit (Benelux)
Antibodies used: G12
Method: Lateral Flow Through
My experience: Reliable test kit. Works with thresholds (5, 10, 20, 40 ppm) depending on the number of drops taken from the sample.
Hints and tips:
-the extraction must not be skipped according to Biomedal however when I tested the same sample with and without extraction the result was the same
-to measure the sample use the enclosed spoon
Here are some more information and pictures.

EZ Gluten
Manufacturer: ELISA Tech.
Costs: USD 60 for a 5 test kit
Antibodies used: Skerritt
Method: Lateral Flow Through
My experience: -none, not tested yet-
Hints and tips:

AgraStrip Gluten
Manufacturer: Römer Labs
Costs: price available upon request
Antibodies used: G12
Method: Sandwich Lateral Flow Through
My experience: -none, not tested yet-
Hints and tips: -not suitable for testing beer according to the manufacturer

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4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Alessia

    Hello Steffan, not only men also women love beer and at the time I got the Diagnose it was very frustrating for me to go out and don’t drink beer. Thank you very much for the beer tests. Greetings from Italia.

    • Steffen

      Hi Alessia, yes of course I also know a lot of women who love beer. I only can imagine how difficult this must be for you in Italy, the country of pizza, pasta and ciabatta. Surely Italy has more to offer than that but this is what you are really good in and it must be tough for you to stay away from it.
      Cheers Steffen

  2. Avatar

    Mick Turner

    Thanks for the summary I will order a kit right away. What is the difference between the antibodies?

    • Steffen

      Hi Mick, I am not a biochemist but let me outline some fairly technical points regarding detecting gluten in beer I learned since I started this website.

      Gluten is not a simple single molecular substance, and ‘intact’ gluten is disrupted to an extent by enzymes in the brewing process; these enzymes cut the gluten molecule into smaller fragments. The logical extension of this process, known as “hydrolysis”, is that gluten would be fragmented to harmless single amino acids, which would not cause gluten intolerant individuals any problems.

      However, the gluten molecule in many beers is still relatively intact and so harmful to some people. The fragmentation during brewing makes gluten also difficult to detect. As test kit manufacturers use different antibodies to detect gluten there can be discrepancies in test results because of that. One test can be negative and with another test kit positive.

      The antibody G12 is a rather new developed antibody which recognizes specifically the 33-mer peptide, the fragment present in the gliadin molecule which is believed to be the most immunotoxic fragment.

      The antibody Skerritt was developed in the late 1980s by Skerritt and Hill when they were at CSIRO in Australia. Skerritt recognises glutenin subunits and the heat stable omega-gliadin fraction and has some attractions when used for particular food matrices of which beer appears to be one.

      Most commercial methods rely on the Sandwich ELISA test using the R5 antibody. I am not aware of a home test kit which uses R5. Further more, gluten levels in sandwich-type test formats are underestimated according to some assays and the reliability is subject to discussion in many forums.

      Any biochemists or gluten specialists out there please correct if I am wrong.

      Cheers Steffen

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