What can GF people make and consume?
Wine, Cider and Seltzer are the “big three” when it comes to GF alcoholic offerings. Made from grapes, apples, and simple sugars respectively, these products contain very little protein content as compared to their cereal grain cousins. They do not contain any of the known “problematic” proteins. All of these follow very similar fermentations to barley-based beverages, however the lack of proteins is obvious in “mouthfeel” or “body” of the finished products. Mead (honey-based wine) is a little less popular, but fits in this category as well. If you are looking for more presence, other alternatives must be explored.
Spirits are considered Gluten Free due to the distillation process. Since Liquor is evaporated and re-condensed, the process effectively separates the “spirit” from the proteins in the wash. According to the TTB & FDA, even spirits made with wheat, rye or barley can be labeled and sold as GF, provided no gluten containing products are added post-distillation (flavorings). Ouzo is one spirit which may contain gluten depending on the brand, so check each product accordingly.
Some facilities are enforcing the strictest standards by becoming 100% certified gluten free manufacturing plants. This means no gluten will enter the premise, let alone make it into your consumer goods. These facilities are ideal for those who have been diagnosed with Celiac, but can be enjoyed by any other consumer as well.
When it comes to “beer”, GF options are constantly improving. New malting and kilning techniques are being used for millet, sorghum, buckwheat and rice to develop more complexity. Previously relegated to one or two options, brewers can now use several different base grains, and several different malting treatments to diversify product offerings. Styles such as Amber Ale, Stout, or Oktoberfest are all within grasp, and not every one tastes the same! Check out some GF brewing tips at Gluten Free Home Brewing - Malt, Recipes & Supplies.