Guinness is one of the most popular beers in the world. It’s sure to be on tap in most any Irish bar you enter. But what if you’re on a gluten-free diet? Is Guinness beer gluten free?
Go to a pub in Ireland and just ask for a “pint”, and chances are the bartender will serve you up a Guinness.
This popular dark beer dates back to the 18th century when Arthur Guinness began making it at the famous St. James’s Gate brewery in Dublin.
Its distinctive dark color and smooth, creamy texture have since made it a favorite among beer lovers the world over. And especially on St. Patrick’s Day.
But if you’re gluten free, can you still enjoy a pint of it? Let’s find out.
How is Guinness made?
First, let’s take a look at the Guinness brewing process. Guinness stout (or Draught) gets its rich, trademark dark color by malting and roasting barley at high temperatures during the brewing process.
This doesn’t make the beer stronger from an alcohol standpoint. In fact, Guinness stout only has about 4.2% ABV. But it does make it inky dark.
In addition, Guinness famously touts that each of its pints has 30 million bubbles. It’s those bubbles that help make it so creamy. Here’s how…
While most beers use only carbon dioxide for carbonation, Guinness uses a combination of carbon dioxide and nitrogen. Since nitrogen doesn’t dissolve as easily in water as CO2, it produces much smaller bubbles. Those smaller bubbles are what’s behind the velvety texture.
Is Guinness gluten free?
Now that we know how Guinness stout is made, let’s see whether it’s gluten free.
Guinness actually makes a few different types of beer along with the famous dark stout, or Guinness Draught. In the United States (and elsewhere), these include a couple of lagers: Hop House 13 and Guinness Blonde American Lager, as well as a dark Extra Stout.
They also produce a few other beers available in select regions around the world.
But we’ll start by focusing on the most popular one, Guinness Draught. Unfortunately, Guinness Draught is not gluten free. It gets its rich, dark color and unique flavor by roasting barley during the brewing process, which also includes barley malt. And barley contains a gluten protein called ‘gliadin’.
This is also true for Guinness Extra Stout, which has a deeper flavor due to being brewed at a higher temperature.
And what about the lagers? Well, neither Hop House 13 nor Guinness Blonde American Lager is gluten free. Both contain a form of barley used during the brewing process.
So if you’re on a gluten-free diet, you’ll likely be unable to enjoy a cold pint of Guinness, regardless of whether it’s a stout beer or lager.
How much gluten content is in a Guinness pint?
The presence of barley-related gluten generally results in a gluten level of over 20 ppm (parts per million) in each pint. That means there’s a fairly high amount of gluten in each one. So if you have a gluten intolerance, you may want to think twice before ordering up a pint.
But Guinness touts itself as being ‘good for you’? Is that true?
Despite the presence of gluten, there are indications that Guinness stout may hold some nutritional benefits.
University of California, Davis researchers found that Guinness contains higher levels of a form of vitamin B than most other beers. The body uses vitamin B to make DNA. They also found that Guinness is high in fiber.
And since it’s lower in alcohol than many other beers, it also features fewer calories. A 12-ounce serving has about 125 calories compared to more than 140 for the same serving of more traditional beers like Budweiser or Heineken.
Are there gluten-free beer alternatives?
Yes, just a few years ago only a handful of gluten-free options were widely available, but now quite a few are on the market. Here are some of the best gluten-free beers:
That ball you hear rolling around in Guinness beer cans is filled with nitrogen. When you pop open a can, the ball releases a flood of small bubbles in order to mimic the creamy texture you get from a Guinness draught beer.
An unopened bottle or can of beer of Guinness can keep for up to 3 years. But the flavor will decline over time. An opened Guinness will usually only last for a day before it becomes flat in both taste and texture.
Bartenders will usually let a Guinness rest for about 2 minutes after pouring to make sure it rises properly and achieves the proper creaminess and head thickness. But by the time it arrives at your bar stool or table, you should be to take that first sip right away.
Bottom line: Is there gluten in Guinness?
Yes, all types of Guinness beer contain gluten as they use barley as part of the brewing process in order to achieve the dark color and distinct flavor. And gluten is found naturally in barley.
That means if you have gluten sensitivities, celiac disease, or are simply on a gluten-free diet, you’ll probably want to avoid drinking it.
If you suffer from one of these conditions and you do consume Guinness, the gluten in the beer may lead to gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea, bloating, and cramps.
More gluten beverage-related answers
Wondering what other beverages may or may not be gluten-free? Tap the links below to find out.