Round up: Gluten-Free beer

Today is Day 20 of my elimination diet (more on that here), and alcohol has been re-introduced since last Thursday. I’ve experimented with wine and scotch whisky…no issues there. But when I tried regular beer last week, my skin started to tingle and feel itchy. At that point, I thought, “uh-oh”. *Insert a big sigh here.*  So far during this “journey”, I have discovered that I may be gluten sensitive…and unfortunately gluten can be found in products such as beer. Are there other ingredients in beer that I may be sensitive to? I’m not sure. But for now, I’m on a search for a gluten free beer – to start narrowing down the ingredients that I’m sensitive to, in this beloved beverage.

The LCBO offers three brands of gluten free beer – so only a handful of products, but still great news. As more people start becoming more aware of celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, I am hoping the selection of gluten free beer will widen. Until then, I’ve been able to access two of these brands and here are my thoughts after an initial taste test. Prices below are from the LCBO website.

Nickel Brook

Nickel Brook Gluten Free is brewed by Better Bitters which hails from Burlington, Ontario. The ingredients listed are: spring water, sorghum (???), pear juice, demarara sugar, hops. 5.8% alc./vol. $2.95, 473 mL can.

The beer is quite hoppy, full-bodied, and packs a bit of a punch with the high abv. No major sweetness despite the sugar and pear juice. Tastes a lot better than the packaging looks, I was quite impressed. And I like that it is from Ontario – to support local craft brewers. Nickel Brook Gluten Free is the most widely available of all the gluten free beers at the LCBO. I’ll be buying this one again…then again, I guess I don’t have much choice do I?!

[Note to my nutritionist: I forgot to check the ingredients before drinking it. I know I'm not supposed to have sugar at this stage, so sorry I've cheated a bit!]


New Grist

New Grist is brewed by Lakefront Brewery based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The ingredients are: water, sorghum, rice, hops. 5.7% alc./vol. Comes in 6 x 355 mL bottles. $12.95 per 6-pack.

Lighter in taste, especially compared to Nickel Brook Gluten Free. Crisp. It is also quite fruity. Funny since this does not contain any fruit juice. Makes you appreciate the art of beer making. High abv. Not bad at all!


There is a third gluten free beer available at the LCBO: La Messagere Gluten Free beer. It’s the most expensive of the lot: 6 x 341 mL bottles @ $16.05. Unfortunately none of the LCBO’s in my neighbourhood carry it, so I will have to make a special trip to try and find it.

By the way, blogTO recently posted that two Toronto brewers will soon be launching new local, gluten free beers: Snowman Brewing and Heady Brew Company. Click on the links to read these posts and to find out more about these brands. Really looking forward to these launches…will keep you posted if I hear anything!


So if I had to make a choice, I’m going with Nickel Brook…but with an asterisk. I will have to do more research, but after consuming both of these beers tonight, I have a hive on my face, and my ezcema seemed to get itchy. Having said that, I also introduced citrus today, so could be a combination of things. Argh…

P.S. So what the heck is sorghum? It is a cereal crop (much like wheat, rice, corn) that is used in food and animal feed. In it’s original form, the plant is apparently over six feet tall! If it’s considered gluten free, that’s all I need to know. 


4 thoughts on “Round up: Gluten-Free beer

  1. I remember my elimination diet 20 years ago. Glad to report it gets better. Hang in there.

    Some of my many food sensitivities went away after many years of avoidance. One of the big ones for me was beer. My eczema was 90% gone after I gave up beer. The 3 beers you write about turned me, a life-long beer drinker, into a wine drinker. They aren’t my style. The residual sugar in these brands may cause a problem for you.

    In 6-12 months the LCBO will have more gluten-free beer on their shelves. Perhaps one or both of the ones I import from Germany and Belgium. They have “zero” residual sugar.

    btw commercially produced beer can have as many as 30 additives. No preservatives but lots of additives. Stick to naturally made beer to lessen the risk. Best of luck!

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