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I Don’t Believe in…..Science?

From The Iron Horse Brewery Blog

I Don’t Believe in…..Science?


First off the title is not a reflection of my opinion as you will see in the course of this ill-written mind diarrhea of a blog.  Cue small rant:

What’s the point of this rant? To steer people into a path of reason and knowledge.  To get people to quit accepting anecdotal bullshit, and more importantly, to quit spreading it.  Back your shit up with a semblance of facts. Question everything, question this blog.  I did only 60 minutes of actual research and could be wildly wrong. I am also not a medical or research professional. I do want people to take this and at least go “hmmmm?” and do their own research (remember check your sources and be skeptical, don’t get your info from

Okay so really, what’s the point of this blog? Well I was asked to address a previous blog about gluten intolerance and beer, an anecdote if you will. I said I would add a little knowledge around the matter because, well…knowledge is power. I will not be refuting the existence of gluten intolerance because I do think many people’s tum-tums get a bit iffy around gluten, even if a large number of people refuse to get that verified scientifically by a medical professional. Nor will I say that beer doesn’t affect people who are sensitive to gluten.

Knowledge time. Gluten is really a grouping of proteins and refers to gliadin in wheat, hordein in barley, and secalin in rye, among others. All of these are proline rich proteins which is thought to be the qualifier for causing problems in gluten sensitive folks, although there is very little research on the effect of these different proteins on the target group (maybe hordein or secalin don’t cause the same reactions at the same concentrations).  

Maths: Bread flour contains about 14% protein,  Malted barley contains about 10%.  Already nearly 30 percent less.  Then we brew with it and every step of the process removes protein. The average beer is about 1% protein. On top of that the hordein fraction of malt protein is the minority.  Get where I’m going with this?  In the end most commercially available beers contain a pretty low level of protein and an even lower level of hordein.

Put it into context: gluten-free products have to contain less than 20 mg of gluten/kg or 20 ppm to be considered Gluten free. The average slice of whole wheat bread contains about 4,800 mg of gluten. A study done in 2013 showed that even the beers that had the highest total amount of hordein (barley gluten) had equal or less gluten per liter than one slice of bread. Many beers have even less than that and technically pass gluten-free restrictions.  *note of warning: if you read that article you will note that there is no good way to accurately measure hordein.  

I’m not saying you go out and go gang busters on beer but do give it a chance even if you are sensitive to gluten.  Be choosy about the beers you try (no wheat beers, not hazy) and take it slow.  You may just find you can enjoy beer in moderation if you pick right.   Obviously if you have Celiac disease, be far more careful, but I had a professor that enjoyed beer on a regular basis, even as a Celiac sufferer.  Here is an article he wrote on the subject for more learning.

Even more learning.  This article indicates the effectiveness of germinating barley (basically malt) enzymes at degrading prolamin proteins of wheat and rye.

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One Comment

I Won’t Drink Beer but I’ll Sure as Hell Smell It | Pacific Northwest Indie Made Beer - Iron Horse Brewery
October 19, 2016 2:59 pm

[…] Head Brewer Tyson Read‘s thoughts on the whole gluten intolerance thingy here. […]

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