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How We Brew Low Glutens Beers At Black Hops

Did you know that most dark hops brew beers that have been low gluten for years? Many other craft breweries are the same way. Read on for an article that delves into this topic.


Low gluten or gluten-free beer…now there’s a concept that regular beer drinkers would have scoffed at not too long ago. Choosing a beer based on health and dietary factors? That’s right. Now pass me my standard beer galleon.


But as times have changed, the concept of gluten-free beer (or in the Australian market, low gluten beer) is not as foreign as it once was. As more and more people make smarter decisions about what they eat, low-gluten beers are starting to gain more and more of a foothold in the marketplace.


This combined with the rapid growth of the independent craft beer market in Australia has given rise to a new breed of beer drinker. More and more “beer connoisseurs” are looking for great tasting, fresh beer, and dare we say it, it’s better for you.

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What is gluten and why is it bad for some people?

Gluten is a term used to define a class of molecules called storage proteins. For those with an autoimmune disease called celiac disease, the presence of gluten can cause an uncomfortable immune response in the gut because it is difficult to digest. Symptoms include stomach pain and severe

 cramping. People with celiac disease are advised to drink only gluten-free beer.


According to data provided glutens by the Australian Celiac Association, approximately 1 in 100 Australians are infected with celiac disease. However, 75 percent of cases have not been diagnosed, which means that more than 150,000 people are unaware that they glutens have the disease.


The other 5% are less sensitive to gluten, so they can drink low gluten beer in addition to gluten-free beer.
So what is the difference between gluten-free beer and low gluten beer and why do we need to differentiate?


How is a low gluten beer glutens different from other beers?


Traditional beer recipes use wheat and barley to provide the fermentable sugars essential to the brewing process. Both of these ingredients contain gluten. According to the CSIRO, wheat contains up to 100 gluten proteins (called alkaloids and glutenins)

 and barley contains up to 50 gluten proteins (called alkaloids). Similar proteins are found in oats, rye and spelt.
Therefore, to make gluten-free or low-gluten beers, gluten-free grains and grasses such as millet, corn, rice, buckwheat and sorghum are substituted.


Another option for brewers is to remove or break down the gluten in wheat and barley instead of replacing the grains. However, this process does not necessarily remove all of the antigens that cause celiac disease.
With the advances glutens in today’s beer brewing industry, the use of gluten-free grain options has evolved to a point where there is now a range of delicious beers that offer a reliable alternative for those who may not be able (or want) to drink gluten-containing beers.


Who is drinking gluten-free/low gluten beer?
Traditionally, gluten-free beers cater to a small segment of the beer glutens drinking world and are brewed specifically for people who are unable to consume gluten for health reasons. For example, the previously mentioned people with celiac disease.

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The growing popularity of gluten-free living as a health and lifestyle choice (for better digestion and gut health) has led to an glutens exponential increase in the number of beers now being marketed as “low gluten”. Studies show that up to 30% of Australians are actively seeking to reduce their gluten intake.


The increased availability of low gluten beers has also brought the pleasure of drinking fresh and tasty beer to those who traditionally did not drink beer due to more common glutens-related intolerances such as wheat allergies.


The same applies to those who subscribe to the ancient diet, which restricts the consumption of specific grains. And people who are bloated may also gravitate to the gluten-reduced side of the diet because gluten is lighter and easier to digest. The list goes on.


Gluten-free vs. low gluten beers in Australia
In Australia, beers that have been adapted to suit gluten intolerant drinks are often referred to as low gluten beers, rather than gluten free beers.


The basic definition of “low glutens” in the Australian Food Code is that it contains less than 200 ppm of gluten (or 20 mg per 100 g).


However, if there is a possibility of gluten cross-contamination (e.g. contact with a machine that produces a gluten-containing product), a statement must be displayed stating that it “may contain gluten”.

How does it taste?

So, after all, is there really anything good about gluten-free beer? In short, yes, it can!
In terms of taste, low-gluten beers tend to be crisper and lighter than their counterparts. 

This makes them a great flavor option for those who may be put off by the stronger flavors of beers containing gluten.


In 2015, Scottish craft brewing trendsetter BrewDog launched its Gluten Free Rangers Pale Ale to much fanfare. Prior to its official launch, it beat out a range of “normal” beers when judged on taste criteria.
Dark Hops and Low Protein Beers


It’s time to let you in on a little secret of the brew; over the past two years, the dark hopped beer recipe has been tweaked to include a low gluten approach.


Our beers meet the “less than 200 ppm gluten” requirement, however, due to the presence of malted barley in the beer, a gluten-free claim is not currently allowed as the testing methods used and their ability to provide 

accurate test results for gluten in highly hydrolyzed products such as beer are being investigated. We have chosen (in consultation with Celiac Australia and CSIRO) to use the wording “low gluten” in order to be more meaningful to consumers.


Having said that, we did not use it at all in our marketing. We believe that doing so would lead consumers to believe that other beers are very high in gluten, when in fact many craft breweries brew low gluten beers.


All of our core line of beers (except G.O.A.T.) meet the “low gluten” criteria and are therefore suitable for people with gluten intolerance, except for those with a low incidence of celiac disease.


So, what steps are taken in the brewing process to ensure that our beers meet the “low gluten” criteria?
Brewery; the magic ingredient for low-protein beers


The way we achieve the low gluten rating for our core range of beers is by adding a brewing enzyme called Brewers Clarex to the fermentation process. It was originally developed to prevent haze in beer,

 but researchers have since discovered that it has a secret power – to neutralize gluten in beer, making it safe for many gluten-sensitive people to drink.


Brewers Clarex degrades epitopes on antigens, leading to the immune response known as celiac disease. The antigenic epitope is the part of the antigen

 that interacts with the antibodies in the body’s immune system. By degrading the responsible epitope, the antigen becomes harmless because there is no longer anything interacting with the human immune system

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