Heineken is a lager beer that is popular worldwide. Some say this beer tests under the 20ppm requirement and may be gluten free, but I am skeptical. Let’s look at the facts. Is Heineken gluten free?

Taking a Heineken beer out of the refrigerator.

What Is Heineken?

Heineken is a beer that originated in Amsterdam back in 1863. It is a popular lager beer worldwide and is sold in 192 countries. Heineken is brewed with simple ingredients, including water, barley, and hops.

If you enjoy occasional drinks, check to see what alcohol is gluten free.

Answer: Is Heineken Gluten Free?

No. Heineken is not gluten free. In doing the research, I was very surprised to read the gluten statement on Heineken’s website. They cannot take a stance on whether their product has gluten. Please read the below and tell me what you think.

Heineken allergy statement from their website.

First, their statement is completely false. “Brewing beer with barley only leaves traces of gluten in the beer.” Also, “the blonder the beer is, the less gluten it contains” is another statement that Heineken can not back up with facts. They don’t even test their beer, so how can they say this? There is not a single fact to back up their statement.

I feel that Heineken’s gluten statement can be misleading for those who need to avoid gluten due to medical reasons. Let’s look at more facts on the ingredients used and beer testing in general.

Heineken Ingredients:

  • Water
  • Barley Malt
  • Hops
  • Natural Flavoring

When you look at Heineken’s ingredients, barley malt should stand out as a red flag. Barley is one of the three forms of gluten that is unsafe for those with Celiac Disease. Gluten that is not safe comes from wheat, barley, and rye.

Siphoning some beer out of a glass for testing.

Testing In Fermented Drinks:

Testing beer for gluten content is inaccurate at best. This is due to the fermentation process itself. Let’s examine the facts by starting with a leading testing company quote. R-BioPharm regularly tests foods for allergens, contaminants, and more.

Testing beer for gluten content is a challenge for many breweries. The worldwide accepted and officially recommended test method for gluten in food is a sandwich ELISA based on the R5 antibody. However, there is a problem when testing beer: Fermentation breaks down gluten to peptide fragments. Since at least two epitopes are necessary for a sandwich ELISA, these single peptide sequences cannot be reliably detected, potentially resulting in false negatives.”

R-BioPharm, (https://food.r-biopharm.com/news/gluten-free-beer-a-practical-guide-for-your-brewery/)

If you can’t accurately test beer for gluten, why do many claim that some beer brands test under 20 ppm and are gluten free? I include those “gluten-removed” beers in my question. How are those beers tested? They are all using the ELISA testing guidelines to claim their beer may be gluten free, but ELISA standards give a lot of false negatives.

If you have Celiac Disease, I encourage you to pass on Heineken beer. If you have gluten sensitivity or intolerance, it is your choice whether to consume a beer made with barley.

Awesome Gluten Free Beers To Try:

  • GroundBreaker
  • Bards
  • Redbridge
  • Glutenberg
  • Ghostfish
  • Stone
  • New Planet

Check out my research to see Is Corona Gluten Free and Is Smirnoff Ice Gluten Free?

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  1. As an fyi, Duckfoot is gluten-reduced, not gluten free. I have celiac (as does the founder of Duckfoot), and have never had an issue, but they are only reduced.