Westerham Brewery has succeeded in reducing the gluten content of a number of their bottled beers to a level which means they can now be certified “gluten free”.  The beers have less than 20ppm gluten, the threshold for labelling a product “gluten free”.

Westerham applied for a Technology Strategy Board grant to develop the proprietary method of producing the beers.  Working closely with Campden BRI, the UK’s top brewing research and development centre, Westerham proved the beers they were producing in bottle were already gluten free according to the WHO (World Health Organization) Codex Alimentarius.  However, the proprietary method developed with Campden BRI, produced beers that both tasted the same but would provide retailers with the confidence that the products were certified gluten free.

The recommended method of analysis, approved by the Codex Committee on Methods of Analysis and Sampling (CCMAS), is the R5-sandwich ELISA (Mendez method).

The control and trial beers were put through Campden BRI’s sensory analysis panel to test whether the method used to reduce the gluten had any flavour impact on the beers.  Within the usual batch to batch variations that we would normally expect, the trial and control beers exhibited very similar flavour profiles.

Westerham is employing good manufacturing practice at all stages of production to ensure no cross-contamination.  Final products are also sent to a laboratory for gluten testing using the Competitive R5 ELISA test.  Test certificates for each batch of beer are available for inspection on the website.

A gluten free mixed case is available for mail-order.  It contains Freedom Ale, the first beer to be tested as a gluten free beer, British Bulldog, Scotney Pale Ale, Scotney Best Bitter and Viceroy India Pale Ale.

Gluten intolerant consumers and coeliacs should seek advice from their doctors to determine which products are suitable for their particular level of intolerance.

Westerham has licensed the “crossed grain” symbol from Coeliac UK and is labelling the Freedom Ale with this symbol.  Other certified gluten free beers are marked with the crossed grain symbol on the website.  Coeliac consumers now have the freedom to enjoy real beer with the confidence of knowing it is gluten free.