How gluten free is your beer?

Over our 133-year history, the International Brewing Awards has continued to adapt and keep up with the changing industry and consumer needs. Given that demand for gluten-free food and drink is at an all-time high with the market expected to be worth a whopping $4.8bn globally by 2021 (Source: Imbibe, November 2018), it seemed the right time to introduce clarity around what we really mean by gluten free or zero gluten.

Driven by government legislation in different parts of the world definitions of gluten free can mean different things in different markets.

In Europe, gluten free means that the product can contain an extremely low level of gluten, as long as there is 20 parts per million or less. As the test for measuring gluten is difficult and not exact some governments felt this was a practical solution to overcoming this measurement issue.

As some enzymes will break down gluten and reduce the level measured in beer, producers in Europe have added an extra step into the brewing process – enzymatic reduction of gluten – allowing them to reduce it to less than 20 parts per million.

In Australia and other parts of the world, Gluten Free is taken to mean Zero gluten, with no gluten allowed at all, there by facilitating  greater innovation as producers find alternative ingredients.

Given the awards receive entries from all over the world, the International Brewing Awards has decided to clearly differentiate between Gluten Free and Zero Gluten products, by having these as two separate categories.

Zero Gluten Beer: A beer that does not contain gluten and is made from ingredients that do not contain gluten. (Brewer to supply information on the ingredients used).

Gluten Free (reduced gluten beer / gluten free beer). A beer brewed from gluten containing ingredients such as barley or wheat, that may include a gluten reduction step in processing and have up to a max of 20ppm gluten present.

In a bid to be transparent, provide fair competition and greater clarity for award entrants, we felt it was important to cater for the changing industry and consumer needs and wants. We hope, by making this change, we will encourage producers of gluten free beers and zero gluten beers to enter this year from all over the world.