Making gluten-free beer requires precision. Thanks to modern production techniques it is no longer necessary to completely avoid certain grains. For example the gluten-free Lapin Kulta Pure is a full-malt beer made of organic barley malt, organic hops and groundwater that is naturally filtered in the eskers of the Salpausselkä ridge area.
Gluten is a protein found in barley, wheat and rye, and the digestive system of people with coeliac disease does not tolerate even the smallest amounts of it. People with coeliac disease need to follow a strictly gluten-free diet all their lives, and because of this, many gluten-free products were originally developed for their needs.
However, these days people with coeliac disease are no longer the only target market for gluten-free beer because gluten-free diet has become popular and many choose to give up gluten.
But how is gluten-free beer brewed?
It may come as a surprise for many that gluten-free beer is brewed in the same ways as other beers and gluten-free beer can also be made with real malt.
The only difference in the basic process is removing the gluten from the beer, as Hartwall’s Product Development Manager Riitta Saleva-Sjöblom tells.
“An enzyme is used to remove the gluten from the beer during the process. Removing the gluten has no effect on the taste of the beer,” says Saleva-Sjöblom.
Another alternative is a naturally gluten-free beer, which is brewed completely without grains that contain gluten, such as barley, rye or wheat.
And when can a beer properly be called gluten-free?
Beer can be called gluten-free when it contains less than 20 milligrams of gluten per 1 kilogram. This precise limit is specified in the Finnish legislation: a product can be marketed as gluten-free when its gluten content remains within the permitted limits.
“Gluten-free products must pass strict controls. Every batch is analysed in an external laboratory,” Saleva-Sjöblom tells.
Controls that ensure that the gluten content is below the limit of acceptable values are done using an analysis method that has been approved by the Finnish Coeliac Society. The process is carefully monitored to ensure that the beverage is suitable for people with coeliac disease.
So how does gluten-free beer taste?
The taste of a beer depends on the recipe, for example on what kind of hops and malts have been used. Each beer has its own characteristics and features, and gluten-free beers can compare with ordinary beers.
The gluten-free beer in Hartwall’s product portfolio is Lapin Kulta Pure 4,5 %, which is a pale lager. Full-malt Lapin Kulta Pure is made with organic hops and organic Finnish fully malted barley. The beer is brewed using groundwater that is filtered in the eskers of Salpausselkä.
The Finnish Coeliac Society is authorised to grant the permission to use gluten-free label on products. It is easy to see at a glance that a product is gluten-free if it has a circular label that shows a grain head with a line crossing it. Lapin Kulta Pure has this trusted label.