Gluten-Free Hard Cider and Other Alternatives to Beer

Most hard ciders are considered naturally gluten-free

flight of hard ciders
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Although gluten-free beer options are expanding and the selections are getting tastier, some people simply want alternatives to beer. Fortunately, there are several options, including a wide variety of gluten-free ciders.

You're not going to find some of these at your corner supermarket. However, you can order most of them online (depending on your state's laws), and you may be able to persuade your local liquor store to bring them in for you to try.

In a few cases, you may even discover gluten-free cider on tap in one of your favorite hangout spots.

Gluten-Free Hard Cider

Here's the list of hard cider brands that are recommended for people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity:

  • ACE Cider. ACE Cider (also known as the California Cider Company) makes five different kinds of cider, including Apple, Apple-Honey, Perry (Pear), Berry and Joker. According to the company: "All our ACE ciders are gluten-free and suitable for consumers with celiac disease." ACE Cider has distributors nationwide.
  • Angry Orchard Cider. Angry Orchard is quite popular and makes more than a dozen different standard and seasonal ciders. All are considered gluten-free. According to the company: "Our ciders are made with all naturally gluten-free ingredients. We make every effort to avoid cross-contamination of ingredients, and periodically test our cider and cider making equipment."
  • Crispin Cider. Crispin makes seven different ciders: Original, Light and Brut, plus four other specialty ciders. All are gluten-free, according to the company.
  • Jack's Hard Cider. If you crave variety, Jack's is the brand for you. The company makes seven different cider flavors—including peach and pear—using apples and other fruit from Pennsylvania. Jack's comes in cans and is considered naturally gluten-free.
  • Magners Cider. Magners bills itself as "the original Irish cider." The company makes two different ciders, Original and Pear, and both are billed as gluten-free. Magners is available in a majority of U.S. states.
  • Original Sin Hard Cider. This brand, crafted from apples grown in upstate New York, states that it is all natural and gluten-free.
  • Rekorderlig Cider. Made in Sweden, Rekorderlig's ciders come in a variety of fruit flavors, including passionfruit, spiced apple, pear, wild berries, and strawberry-lime. All are gluten-free, according to the company.
  • Strongbow Cider. This English import is available in some outlets in the U.S. According to Strongbow, the ciders are considered gluten-free.
  • Woodchuck Cider. Vermont-made Woodchuck Cider makes a variety of regular and limited edition ciders, including Amber, Granny Smith, Dark 'N Dry, Crisp, and Raspberry. The company features a prominent gluten-free statement on its website: "We take Celiac Disease seriously, and since Woodchuck has always, and only, been made from apples (not wheat, barley or rye) none of our cider varieties have ever contained gluten. Further, we have all our ciders tested by an independent lab and we maintain a completely gluten free facility."

    Mike's Hard Lemonade

    There's some controversy over the gluten-free status of Mike's Hard Lemonade and other products. The products contain malt, which is made with barley. However, according to Mike's, a proprietary filtration process removes the gluten.

    "Our products were put through highly sensitive tests that indicate they are gluten-free. The ELISA test, the most stringent test currently available for gluten quantification, indicates that they contain less than 5 parts per million (ppm) of gluten, meaning they can be considered gluten-free." Mike's also noted that the testing showed the products came in "well below" the then-proposed (now finalized) limit of less than 20 parts per million of gluten.

    Mike's hard lemonade products now include a label that reads "Crafted To Remove Gluten."

    However, some people have reported getting sick from Mike's products, just as people report getting sick from so-called "gluten-removed" beers (made from barley) and other forms of alcohol made from gluten grains. My bottom line: If you're one who gets sick from gluten-grain-based distilled alcohol, I'd steer clear of Mike's. If you can handle alcohol made from gluten grains, meanwhile, you may do okay with Mike's. Either way, it's your call.

    Alcoholic Beverages NOT Considered Gluten-Free

    There are many brands of bottled and canned alcoholic beverages that are NOT gluten-free, generally because they contain malt (almost always barley malt). These include:

    • Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers and mixed drinks
    • Coney Island Hard Root Beer
    • Four Loko energy drinks
    • Henry's Hard Soda (ginger ale and orange flavors)
    • Not Your Father's Root Beer
    • Smirnoff Ice malt beverages
    • Sparks energy drinks
    • Sprecher Hard Root Beer
    • Tilt energy drinks.

    Whatever you do, don't make the mistake of assuming these are gluten-free since they're not beer—they're not safe for those in the gluten-free community to drink.

    A Word from Verywell

    If you're gluten-free and looking for alternatives to beer, it would be difficult to go wrong with any of the hard cider brands listed above. However, you need to be very cautious with other beer alternatives, including wine coolers and hard root beer, since almost all of those contain barley malt and are not gluten-free.

    Source:

    Celiac Disease Foundation. What Should I Eat? Fact Sheet.

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