It ranks among the most popular beers from Japan. But is Asahi gluten free? Find out if you can drink Asahi while on a gluten-free diet.
I’m a fan of crisp, dry lagers, and an Asahi is one my favorites from Japan. And it’s hugely popular there. In fact, the company touts its Asahi Super Dry as Japan’s No. 1 beer. And it credits a special brewing process for giving the beer its distinctive taste.
But is Asahi gluten-free?
The short answer is no, Asahi Super Dry beer is not gluten free, as one of its key ingredients is barley malt. And barley malt contains gluten.
But just how much gluten it contains is another matter. In this post, I’ll reveal whether the Asahi brand of beer can be considered gluten-reduced. And I’ll provide some options for gluten-free beer alternatives.
What is Asahi?
Asahi was founded in Japan in the late 19th century. But its flagship product Asahi Super Dry was developed in the 1980s as a crisp, clean alternative to bitter, heavy beers that dominated the Japanese market at the time. The beer-maker described the new brew as having a “karakuchi” taste — essentially meaning dry.
Within 10 years of its release, it became the most popular Japanese beer, dramatically increasing the company’s market share.
Today only two beers are widely sold under the Asahi brand in the United States: Asahi Super Dry and Asahi Dry Black.
Here’s a breakdown of the taste profiles and ingredients in these two beers.
Asahi Super Dry – Taste profile and ingredients
Flavor profile – Crisp, light, pale lager with a clean, dry finish and relatively high carbonation.
Ingredients – Water, barley malt, corn, starch, rice, hops, yeast.
Asahi Dry Black – Taste profile and ingredients
Flavor profile – Dark lager beer with a rich, nutty flavor and a smooth finish.
Ingredients – Water, dark roasted malt, hops, rice, corn, starch, yeast.
Is Asahi beer gluten free?
The official Asahi website makes no claims about whether Asahi Super Dry or Asahi Dry Black are gluten free. But both contain barley malt, and barley contains gluten proteins (called ‘gliadin’).
So they can’t be fully gluten free, though they may be “gluten-reduced” (more on the distinction below).
This is due to a few reasons:
1. Among styles of beer, lager tends to have the least amount of gluten. For example, the average lager has about 60 ppm (parts per million) of gluten. By contrast, an ale averages more than 3,000 ppm of gluten. That said, 60 ppm of gluten is still too high for anyone with a gluten intolerance.
2. Lighter beers like lagers tend to have less gluten due to their specific brewing process. It’s essentially more watered down and more of the gluten is filtered out.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration states that only products with gluten levels below 20 ppm can officially be called “gluten-free,” so these tests would place it under that threshold. However, the company itself hasn’t officially confirmed the gluten levels in these beers.
Regardless, if you have Celiac disease, gluten allergies, or a gluten sensitivity, any amount of gluten present can be problematic.
What other beer brands does Asahi own?
Between 2016 and 2017, Asahi acquired several other well-known beer brands including Grlosch, Pilsner Urquell, and Peroni. All are similar lager or pilsner-style beers that complement the Asahi Super Dry brand. And like Asahi beers, almost all of them contain gluten — apart from one exception.
The gluten-free beer that Asahi owns: Peroni Nastro Azzurro Gluten Free
Nastro Azzurro means “blue ribbon,” and the original version of this beer was released in 1963 as a nod to the Italian attitude of “la dolce vita” or “the sweet life.”
It wasn’t until Asahi purchased Peroni in 2017 that it released the gluten free variety. Or “senza glutine” in Italian. Though, it’s actually a gluten-reduced beer as it includes barley malt in its ingredients list. At the end of the brewing process, an enzyme is added that removes the gluten, making it a potential option for those with gluten sensitivities or those on a gluten-free diet.
That said, while this beer is widely available in Europe, it does not seem to be sold broadly in the U.S.
Other ingredients include Italian maize, water, hops, and yeast.
Gluten-free and gluten-reduced beer alternatives to Asahi
Several gluten-reduced and gluten-free options are available to beer drinkers if Asahi is off-limits.
The difference between these two categories is that gluten-free beers do not use any ingredients that contain gluten. Gluten-reduced or gluten-removed beers can use gluten-containing ingredients, but the levels are reduced during the brewing process.
Popular gluten-free beer brands
- Glutenberg Stout
- Bierly Brewing
- Ghostfish Brewing Company
- New Planet
- Epic Brewing Glutenator
Popular gluten-reduced beers
- Omission Beer
- Stone Brewing
It’s best to keep in Asahi beer a cool, dry place like a pantry or in the refrigerator. It can keep for a fairly long time — up to a year — but you’ll get the best taste if you drink it within 3 months of bottling.
Asahi Super Dry beer uses rice as a way to keep it light and dry. So it’s technically a Japanese rice lager. Rice doesn’t add much flavor to beer, but it can increase the level of alcohol.
Asahi Super Dry beer has an alcohol content of around 5%. That’s comparable to a lot of other big brand lagers, but lower than many other beer styles like IPAs or some ales.
According to Asahi’s nutritional information, a 12oz bottle of Asahi Super Dry has about 145 calories and 10 carbohydrates.
This non-alcoholic beer is essentially an alcohol-free version of the original Asahi Super Dry popular brand. It has the same light hue and crisp, dry finish. It was first launched internationally in early 2023.
More gluten-related answers
Discover whether some of your other favorite foods and drinks contain gluten. Check out these posts.