Gluten is a protein found in certain grains; in our brewery this includes wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten is what gives dough its elastic, chewy texture and helps baked goods rise and maintain their shape. While gluten is harmless for most people, it can cause health problems for those with coeliac disease or other gluten sensitivities.
What is Celiac Disease?
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the small intestine when gluten is consumed. This can lead to damage to the intestinal lining, which can result in malabsorption of nutrients and a host of other health issues.
Gluten sensitivity is a condition in which individuals may experience symptoms similar to those of coeliac disease, but without the damage to the small intestine. The exact cause of gluten sensitivity is not well understood, but it is believed to be a result of the immune system’s reaction to gluten.
Gluten Free Beer & Cider
As awareness of gluten sensitivities and coeliac disease generally increases, more gluten free alternatives such as flour, pasta, bread and pizza, have become available in the marketplace to sit alongside traditional options.
When it comes to beer, most gluten free beer in the UK is actually gluten reduced, which in summary means that the beer is brewed with regular cereals in the normal way, and is then treated at the end of the process to remove the gluten to sub 20ppm (parts per million) which is gluten free as per UK law. It is also possible to find beers made from non-gluten containing ingredients (commonly described as NGCI beer) such as sorghum, millet, buckwheat, rice, quinoa or maize, however these are far less readily available.
Cider on the other hand should always be naturally gluten free, as unless gluten containing additions have been made, or cross contamination to the product has occurred, there is no gluten present in apple juice.
Why Brightside Went Gluten Free
At the beginning of 2017 we tentatively started out on our GF journey by removing gluten from our newly released Wildside beer range, and getting beers tested by a laboratory. Whilst it’s only a relatively short time ago (6 years at time of writing this blog) back then there was still a lot of scepticism surrounding gluten free beers *what’s missing?! *it’s brewed with weird stuff! *gluten free beers taste rubbish, and so on!
In spite of this, more and more customers were asking us to produce GF beers as increasingly, more of their clients were asking for them. Specifically, The Hawksmoor in Manchester came to us wanting to list a house gluten free lager so that all of their customers could enjoy it. This marked the start of our journey to becoming a GF brewery.
Skip forward to January 2022, (Covid delayed our earlier plans), we finally managed to announce that we were fully gluten free across the board for all of our beers. By offering a full line up of gluten free styles, from lagers to bitters, blondes to stouts, and also bottles, cans, kegs and casks, all beer lovers can enjoy a refreshing Brightside pint!