During my recent trip to Spain I had the chance to test a famous gluten free labelled beer. As I always take a test kit with me when I go abroad I supposed to test the draught beer they sold in my hotel but then I saw Estrella Daura Damm in a supermarket and couldn’t resist. The price is rather high, almost as double as the regular Estrella Damm beer but I really wanted to enjoy an officially labelled gluten free beer. Well, not everywhere – in some countries (like in the US) Damm is not allowed to label it gluten free – I guess because it contains barley. Their marketing experts instead use the fantastic wording ‘crafted to remove gluten’ in the US – well done you marketing pals. Anyway, the European version clearly says “below 3 ppm” on the bottle which moreover is confirmed by the Spanish National Research Council so this all implicitly says it is safe for Celiacs and people with GS. And this beer really tastes like beer, actually no difference to the “normal” Estrella Damm, refreshing and crisp.
A gluten free labelled beer, below 3 ppm, researched and confirmed by a Spanish public institution and it even tastes like a real beer – everything seems to be perfect. And then happens this:
Beer: Estrella Damm Daura
Producer: S.A. Damm
Originating country: Spain
Brewing location: Spain
Bottle size: 330 ml = approx. 12 Oz.
Alcohol by volume: 5.4%
Ingredients: water, barley malt, rice, hops
Miscellaneous: officially labelled gf beer
Test Kit: Imutest Gluten-in-Food Kit
Test result: There is a clearly visible pink test spot on the left of the test area ( T ) which indicates the presence of gluten. According to the instructions a “very low gluten” level of 20 to 100 ppm should give a test spot which is weaker or similar in intensity to that of the control spot ( C ). Please find some more information here. The test spot appears almost identical to the control spot.
On a scale from 1 to 20 I would rate the test spot intensity 5 or 6 so in this test the level is above 20 ppm. Even though this test is positive please note it is not a medical advice – see my facts page.
To add something here: I tested this beer in August already to allow Estrella to react on the result. I contacted them a few times over their contact forms http://www.estrelladamm.com/en/contact.html and http://www.damm.es and send emails with the lot number of this beer, pictures etc. But no feedback – absolute silence.
Interesting. So far then, “gluten free beers” are 0-for-1?
I know this is a controversial result. I think it is outrageous to label it gluten free and sell it for such a high price. I wouldn’t start to question all gluten free beers now only because of this result, though.
But it encourages me to continue testing regular beers and show that also a lot of regular beers are suitable for Celiacs. My last intestinal biopsy last month did not show any damage. No atrophy of the villi and no increase of intraepithelial T-lymphocytes. My doctor said my Celiac Disease is well cured. Despite the fact I drink regular beer.
I don’t know how Estrella could measure 3 ppm? Does anyone know which test procedure, which antibodies etc. they use to test their beer???
Les Carter from Australia
Steffen, thanks for your testing and comment re Estrella Damm ‘GF Beer.’ I have tried it here, available @ AU$24 for a six pack, way overpriced. Not a bad drink though.
Interesting to note your statement ‘Coeliac Disease cured’ ? I was of the impression it can never be cured. Sure after the eruption the vili comes back with GF Diet, but according to my Gastro Enterologist and Coeliac Society here, once Coeliac, it is Coeliac for life. I am still having the odd Becks, no reactions.
Hi Les, you are right cured maybe is the wrong word (my doc used it though). I just wanted to express that my health is OK even when I regularly drink normal beer. But of course I have to continue my gf diet all my life. Which I do except for beer.
Les Carter from Australia
Thanks again Steffen. A lot of research has been done world wide concerning ‘gluten tolerance levels’ for Coeliacs. Indeed there are tolerance levels.
As you and others would probably know by now, some Coeliacs can react to one bread crumb and others, perhaps like us, can partake of a beer or two containing low or moderate amounts of gluten, i.e. the products you have tested on here for us, Becks, Corona, Miller, Estrella Damm, etc, etc. Perhaps we are the lucky ones !!
Keep up the good work and my best wises to you and all who benefit from this site.
Which brands of standard beer do you drink? I have drank standard beer and ale, but find my nutritional balances due decrease but no pain. I’ve tried 3 or 4 GF brands of beer in canada but they give me a headache.
Hi Elcie, as I live in Germany I stick with the German beers I tested myself. Like Warsteiner and Beck’s. And Krombacher, I just tested Krombacher and will post the test result soon. Cheers Steffen
I’ve tried it several times and always had a reaction. no reaction to Redbridge and Omission.
Hi GF Def,
I had no reaction to Estrella Daura but it seems I generally can tolerate more gluten than other people with CD. But the personal experience is always the best and most reliable. Redbridge contains sorghum and so it is gluten free. Omission is brewed with barley and removes/reduces the gluten in the bottling process using Brewers Clarex. I think Estrella Daura does the same but I am not 100% sure as I received no feedback from the producer Damm.
Thank you for this great service and all the information. Keep it up!
I tried Damm Daura once at a restaurant and once at a party. Both times I felt bloated and had stomach pain.
To be honest I would question how good the gluten testing kits are first of all, as European trading standards are quite rigorous.
Its a bit like comparing one of those test-your-own-breath-for-alcohol kits with the equipment the police have
Hi Milo, these are home test kits but so far they seem to be quite reliable according to my experience. And some people reported intolerance reactions to this beer.
But why no reaction from Damm about the results? I received absolutely no feedback from them. And they have read it, as someone from marcodecomunicacion.com contacted me. He explained he works for the agency in charge of the digital media actions of Daura Damm and will forward the information. But also then no feedback. Why can’t they simply explain how they remove the gluten? And what antibodies and test method they use the measure a level of less than 3 ppm gluten?
Maybe it’s not the home test kits but the insufficient test method Damm uses to detect gluten? Maybe they have a reason to not let us know how they test the beer?
I wished they would be a bit more transparent if they label something gluten-free.
Les Carter from Australia
Damm Estrella !! Not communicating !!
I am sticking to my Budweiser, decent drinking and limit it to 2 per day. At least you get a head and bit of lace on the glass from Bud, unlike Coronas, flat as a tack.
I have also had reactions to Daura…this validates my experience. No reactions to red ridge nor omission
This was posted on a different thread btw.
June 5, 2013 at 5:00 pm
I work for the importer of DAURA here in the US and wanted to address this post. First off I apologize about your gf having a reaction. We actually haven’t had any complaints ever come into us so I was surprised by this. The brewery does test each batch to ensure its below 3ppm using the R5 Elisa test. You are correct in saying that the TTB has put a restriction on what barley-based gluten-free beers can and cant say on their packaging here in the US since they haven’t determined a definition of what yet constitutes “gluten-free” in the case of these beers. We hope there will be a decision on this soon. You will notice DAURA does have this claim on packaging in their other markets, and it is the same liquid/beer used.
Please feel free to reach out to me if you have further questions. I hope that your girlfriend was indeed drinking DAURA and not the regular Estrella Damm, which is in not suitable for celiacs. The regular Estrella comes in a 6 pack and DAURA comes in a 4 pack.
Hi James, thanks for the information. Just to make it complete the source you have used is http://www.mygfgirlfriend.com/2013/04/estrella-damm-daura-is-not-gluten-free-beer/
I read through this thread and I think it is rather similar to the user experience in this thread here. Also the accuracy of the R5 ELISA is questioned which I believe is a valid point as different test methods return different results.
I still focus on barley containing beers with low gluten up to 20 ppm which to me is acceptable. Btw I had no reaction to Estrella Daura but the limited communication from Estrella is rather cheesy and the test method they use to be questioned.
Again, thanks for sharing the information.
“And then happens this…”
Hahahahaha – excellent punchline. I never liked this beer anyway, least of which for its price.
Love your page, very useful , just one question What is the main reason for changing from IMUTEST to GlutenTox Home/Biomedal?, I just think results from the table are not comparable as they were tested by a different method and might be a little confusing at some point as you rate IMUTEST and the other one is simpler ( only YES or No)
Hi Manual, actually there was no reason to change from one to the other. It was to see the reaction of both test kits as they use different anti-bodies. You are right both cannot be compared, hence I mostly test on very low level with the Biomedal kit (5 ppm). If both show negative then the beer to me is rather safe. But even on the 20 ppm level still means gluten free according to Codex Alimentarius.
But it’s going to be even more complex as Imutest recently changed the antibody from Skerritt to R5. The test method remains but the result can now be different when testing the same beer. I will need to test a number of the beers I tested with Imutest again. This is good and bad. Bad because of the costs, time etc. but good as the test results will be even more reliable – I suppose.
Now it makes sense that I get a reaction after drinking this beer.
Me too. Don’t have any reaction when drinking Celia…. but this one is a big no!
Diagnosed coeliac here – I’ve tried this one several times, usually 1 bottle, and had a reaction every single time, even when drinking only half the bottle.
As it’s labelled <3 ppm I had given up on gluten free beer altogether until I found this website!
Hi William, thanks a lot. Cheers Steffen
I know this is an old thread, but I wanted to mention that I’ve been considering buying an EZ gluten testing kit. I contacted the company and they mentioned that beers which use an enzyme to remove gluten must be boiled before testing in order to deactivate the enzyme. I’m curious if your test is the same way?
Hi Tess, well if you boil the beer then the proteins might get broken down already and could return a false negative result. And you don’t boil your beer before you drink it but I am not a biochemist. As far as I know the gluten is beer is already solubilised and the Imutest and Biomedal test kits I use do not require to boil the beer sample before testing.
That’s a fair point! Although, boiling something like soup with gluten-containing soy sauce doesn’t break down the gluten. I’ll have to look into how these tests work some more. Beers and enzymes are so fascinating to learn about.
Thanks for your great work, Steffan.
yes that’s true it’s a fascinating topic. And the science is still not sure what causes the reactions. I have my own theory about the cause of autoimmune diseases but this would get too political here. Let’s focus on the thing we all love: beer 😉
If you test with EZgluten I would be grateful if you could share the results. Also of course I would be interested if there is a difference when you boil the beer and when you take the sample directly from the bottle.
So,so sad over cheaters saying it is gluten free when it’s is not! Shame on you.
I’ve been so strict for 30 years and you fooled me, lied to me….and, if Systembolaget in Sweden would have had this on their shelf-I would not purchase your beer.
I will see to this and get Daura damm banned from being sold as gluten free.
This makes me wonder what the Swedish Association of Celiacs are actually doing?
Every time I have had this beer I had a bad reaction, I tried it at least 20 times, I knew it was not below 20ppm. It’s just a normal low-gluten beer labeled as gluten-fee. It’s the worst “gluten-free” beer, not even Corona or Heineken made me feel as bad.
Hi Lu, thanks for sharing your experience. It’s been a while since I tested this beer. Would be interested if they have changed the way to remove gluten meanwhile or if it’s still the same. I mean there a products out there to remove gluten (Brewers Clarex for instance) and also other methods can be significant in reducing gluten, e.g. proper filtration. Maybe one day I will try again – if they have reduced the price. Cheers Steffen