"Low Gluten" Beers May Not Be Safe
Every once in a while there is a great stir over the prospect of making regular beer safe for Celiacs. For example, Daura by Estrella Dam (Spain) and more recently this this by twobrosbrew.
However, my celiac SO just found this article which I need to share. It references a journal article from ACS' Journal of Proteome Research. A new, more accurate test for hordein (the form of gluten found in barley) was developed and then 60 commercial beers were tested. The eight beers labeled as gluten-free were indeed free of gluten. However, the two beers labeled as "low-gluten" actually contained as much gluten as regular beer.
The beers were not cited by name. The breakdown of hordein content can be found here.
The labeling of gluten products has improved, but is still a bit of a mess. Unfortunately the standard test may miss some forms of gluten. IMO the safest path for hyper-sensitive celiacs is to stick to foods that were made completely with gluten-free ingredients.
Be careful out there.
I wasn't going to post this yet, but since you brought up the subject...
I have been experimenting in the dark arts, creating "Gluten-Reduced" beers, and drinking them myself. I am a fairly sensitive celiac, but I'm young/healthy so I'll recover quickly. Also I can't get maltable millet that hasn't been hulled/irradiated up here cheaply (Canada) AFAIK, so I figure why not research another path. There is a thread about it here, but they didn't do a good job of testing it. My experience doesn't agree with theirs thus far, unfortunately, but I will now elaborate on what I've learned from my first 2 batches and a lot of reading.
We use something called brewers clarex (Clarity Ferm WLN4000), which apparently is a "proline-specific endo-protease" or an exogenous enzyme derived from genetically modified mold (aspergillus niger). It breaks down proteins (& gluten) to small proline chains/hordeins. Most gluten tests do not detect prolines/hordeins, they detect gluten at a scale above 10PPM, and they do not flag G.R. beer as containing gluten; but sensitive celiacs intestines can detect below that, and do react to hordeins as well, on a much smaller scale. If ingesting the gluten proteins were likened to a nuke being set off, the hordeins would be similar to continous machine gun fire - causing continuous minor-scale damage (to villi structure?), that is not repaired until you stop ingesting it (which I have just experienced).
I first created a beer with 1 vial (5ml), and it caused a (fairly) noticable gut reaction, tiredness, and a fuzzy headache. I passed out cold after 2 pints. I know now that it takes a minimum of 2 vials (10ml) of the stuff to produce a beer I can drink without a gut/mental reaction (from drinking 2-4 full pints over 2-3 hours). Even still, I have noticed it makes me very tired while drinking them and it is causing minor long-term gluten problems, like consistently loose stools, bad farts, increased bathroom trips, and possibly agitating/causing dermatitis bumps on my head - so I'm living proof that G.R. beers in their current form are not safe.
I dont think im going to make another G.R. beer until I can find a better solution - IE: a way to cleave/separate hordeins (or prolines/glyco-proteins), and it's going to require a LOT of chemistry knowledge... maybe if you were to mimick normal human/animal intestines and use naturally occurring enzymes that cleave the proline amino acid from other prolines, like carboxypeptidase, aminopeptidase, enteropeptidase, or dipeptidase, but I'm not sure they can handle the hordein proline specifically - I do know that gluten passes through human intestines, but I don't know if it can break down hordeins; if not then we have to find something from another animal (maybe grass-eating animals like cows?) - but unless it pre-exists, its beyond my capability.
Otherwise, glyco-proteins/prolines are alcohol soluble, so it might be possible to add ethanol to the beer to absorb them, seperate that out, distill out the ethanol from that, and add some back. I found one article explaining differential miscibility, where you add ethanol and "caster oil" to the ethanol-water solution (beer). You add the ethanol to the finished beer for a while, to absorb the prolines (& kill the yeast), then add castor oil to combine with the ethanol-proline mix, then it floats to the top, then you skim this off, distill out/boil off the ethanol from the skimmed stuff & collect the pure ethanol, then rack off the clean beer (after cold crashing) into a keg with the required ethanol ammount. One problem with this method is, instead of merely breaking down proline chains, you're removing them - which might produce less body, or make it not taste like "beer". Also adding an oil to a beer sounds nuts, so I think the previous idea is a better solution - I'm just brainstorming here.
Dougman...I'm not sure of the wisdom of your experiments. As I understand it, Celiac Disease is asymptomatic so even if you don't personally show any signs of a reaction, it doesn't mean damage isn't being done to your body.
The one thing that puzzles me in all of this is that Daura is considered a "low gluten" beer. I drank a case of it and didn't have any reaction and I am very sensitive as well. I can't even eat nut thins. When I drank it, I thought it was gluten free. I guess I didn't do enough research on it--I didn't realize it was considered "low gluten."
According to Wikipedia, Corona is also below 20ppm. I wouldn't try it since I try to stay away from anything that admits there is gluten--no matter how little--but if it is primarily corn and rice then it seems that we should be able to produce a gf beer similar to corona.
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