test the gluten content of your beer

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Tsingtao Gluten Test

Clear winner of the recent Asian beer poll was Tsingtao, a Chinese beer from one of the world’s largest breweries – founded by German settlers at the beginning of the 19th century. The taste is actually good – refreshing and crisp, not watery. It contains rice so my assumption was that it is rather gluten free but my test showed it is not:

Beer: Tsingtao
Producer: Tsingtao Brewery/青岛啤酒
Originating country: China
Brewing location: China
Bottle size: 330 ml = approx. 12 Oz.
Alcohol by volume: 4.7%
Ingredients: water, barley malt, rice, hops (translated from German)
Miscellaneous: Ingredients listed in German as product sold in Germany

Tsingtao Gluten Test Tsingtao Gluten Test

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 slightly lighter than the control spot but almost identical.

Tsingtao Gluten Test

On a scale from 1 to 20 I would rate the test spot intensity 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.


Poll: Which Asian beer do you want me to test next?




  1. Les Carter from Australia

    Thanks for the test Steffen. Crikey that suprises me, more gluten in Tsingtao than we thought. I am currently having a couple of those twice a week, better back off a bit. I don’t want to destroy my vili again.

    Cheers matey.

    • Avatar photo

      Hi Les, I also drank Tsingtao despite the result and had no side effects. The gluten level is still very low (officially all between 20 and 100 ppm is considered ‘very low gluten’). And ppm is parts per million, which means that this is the level in 1 litre of this beer (=3 bottles).
      I wouldn’t worry too much about having one or two but of course my favourites are those which I tested negativ just to be on safe side.
      Cheers Steffen

  2. Phil Muirhead

    Yeah Steffen, your on the right track matey, I drink Tsingtao like water and if there is a few parts per million it has no effect on my celiac disposition whatsoever. I really do think people get a bit carried away with the science and forget the results.
    Drink Up, Phil

    • Les Carter from Australia

      Thanks Phil, I quite liked the Tsingtao, currently I am partaking of the Budweiser, limit of two stubbies per diem, no reaction so far.

      Steffen, keep up you great work old son, don’t worry about the doubters, we stand with thee.

      • Avatar photo

        Hi Phil & Les,

        Thank you very much for the kind words 🙂
        That motivates me a lot to go on with my tests and share the results.

        Cheers Steffen

  3. Les Carter from Australia

    On the subject of Asian beers, I tried a Sapporo the other day. In the big 650ml Silver bullet can, made in Vietnam under licence from Sapporo – Japan.

    I liked it and no after effects on the gut. Tasted similar to an American Budweiser to my palate, made with rice too, like Bud.

  4. mit retnuh

    Hi, and thanks for all the hard work you have done! I have been off wheat per my Dr. since the New Year. I have been searching the whole time for information like you have posted, but was unable to find anything until today when I searched under low gluten instead of gluten free. Man am I glad I found you. I have read your site from front to back, and have even read the site that was mentioned as your competitor in one of the messages. I was just going to introduce my self and say thanks, but then I saw that there were several beers that tested +/- between the two blogs. I would think that the three testing methods would all read the same to be sold as a gluten test kit. That in turn makes me wonder if the difference your two test kits, and EZ Gluten would give a +/- based on a lower/higher ppm setting for the test strip. Just a thought, as I did’nt know any of this was going on until today. I only had the inspiration last night while staring at the GF beer shelf, and thinking to myself surly some of these other 6 million shelves of beer have very low gluten in them.

    Once again, thanks. I am so glad I found your site. Rest assured you have a new ally, and I intend to help you add to your list. How were you able to talk kit makers into sending you some samples. I know I will mess some up while learning the ropes, and free ones would fit the bill to start.

    • Avatar photo

      Hi Mit,

      Well, actually the other site you mention is not a competitor. It’s a nice clone of my site and I am happy that I am not alone anymore testing beers on its gluten content. Especially as this guy uses a kit which is not easy to get in Europe.

      The different results can be explained with many reasons like brewing location, filtration method, barley quality, test kit antibodies etc.
      I would suggest the following: If a beer passes all three tests (EZ Gluten, Imutest, Biomedal) then it may be rather safe. If a beer has one positive out of three test results you should be careful. If only one test out of three is negative or even none then you may better avoid this beer.

      Generally all beers I tested so far except one have very low gluten or are below the limit of detection. Very low is 21-100 ppm, all below is considered gluten free. But there are people out there who react on the tiniest amount of gluten. My clear recommendation here is: stay away from beer made with barley.

      I decided for me to live a gf diet except for beer and I am happy with this. Also my last intestinal biopsy was OK (no atrophy of the villi and no increase of intraepithelial T-lymphocytes). But I would not recommend this for everyone.

      Re the kits you could ask the manufacturers for a sample but meanwhile I just buy the kits – it’s not that expensive and this site is sort of my hobby so I don’t mind buying the kits 😉

      Cheers Steffen

  5. Brenna

    I had a reaction from this..I got it at a bar that actually labeled it as “gluten free” on the menu.

    • Avatar photo

      Hi Brenna, uh that is careless from the bar. It might have low gluten according to Codex Alimentarius but I tested it above 20 ppm and so it can harm people who are very sensitive. When I was in China I actually did not experience a problem with Tsingtao or any other beer there. But I am not so sensitive on gluten anyway. Cheers Steffen

  6. Ami

    Aw crud, thought this one was safe!

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