When you first stop eating gluten, it takes a while to learn what most likely contains gluten and what doesn’t. Of course, I knew that beer contained gluten, but what about hard cider? Or mixed drinks? Were there other options for me to still enjoy one of my all-time favorite past times: drinking.
Because I quit eating gluten due to a range of health issues which improved tenfold when I did, I’ve never been formally diagnosed with Celiac disease. Therefore, I can take small doses of gluten without completely killing myself. But, I try to stay away from it completely.
Except I have one weakness.
I LOVE beer. (And nothing goes better with pizza, by the way!)
At the early point in my gluten free lifestyle (over two years ago now) I asked a server at a local bar if they had any gluten free beer (which I had never tried at this point, but I had heard it existed.) She told me no, but they did have hard cider. I don’t generally like to drink sweet things, so I was debating over this option, when she suggested to me a Corona. Her friend, who is gluten-free, drinks Corona all the time, she said, because it is made from corn, not wheat, (she said) and contains only small traces of gluten. Or so she thought. But, hey, it doesn’t take much to talk me into a beer, so of course I went for it.
And you know what? I didn’t really notice any change in my symptoms. The Corona didn’t seem to affect me much at all. Over the last two years, I’ve experimented a lot with what WILL affect me. Mostly what gets burdened is my digestive system, but also my allergies and asthma. This has resulted in me vowing to NEVER EVER devour three slices of bread, several beers, and a piece of cake in one sitting, even if it IS my birthday party.
But over the past couple of years I’ve drank Corona on and off, not noticing much of an impact. I’ve also tried drinking light beers every now and again (more like every couple of months), like Bud Light or Coors Light or PBR, and haven’t noticed much of an impact either. That’s got me wondering — how much gluten is in these beers? I imaging they are mostly water. I DO have extreme problems if I drink the beers I really want to drink, strong wheat Belgians like a Leffe or Chimay. But not so much with these lighter beers. So, what’s the deal? If my body can take small doses of gluten, shouldn’t it be possible to know how MUCH gluten a product contains?
The link that they provided regarding Corona’s ingredients says this:
“What are the ingredients of Corona Extra? Corona Extra is made with all natural ingredients, water, barley, hops and yeast”
Notice, it says nothing like the waitress told me about it being brewed with corn, so I have no clue where her and her friend came up with that one. Yes, Corona is gold, but I don’t think that means it’s made from corn!! And, yes, barley contains gluten, so there you have it — Corona is NOT gluten free.
It was quite nice of the Corona people to get back to me (and so quickly — Twitter is great for customer service!) but there is still an unanswered question: how much gluten IS in a Corona? What percentage is gluten? What percentage is water?
And a larger question for the gluten free community: Is this something that people with gluten sensitivities SHOULD be asking, or should we just be trying to avoid it altogether? Should we be trying to not only find out if something is gluten free, but also, if it does contain gluten, how much gluten? Because ultimately it’s up to us (and our bodies) to make that choice between a little discomfort and a whole lot of discomfort. I’d like to know how I’m going to feel later, BEFORE making the choice to eat/drink something.
And I’ve got to say it: I don’t want to avoid gluten completely if I don’t have to. I’ve been self-medicating myself through healthy eating, being conscientious, taking natural vitamins and herbs, exercise and trying different things to see what works for me for years. And if I really want a beer, and I see on the label that one beer contains x amount of gluten, while another contains a much lesser amount of gluten, I might just go ahead and drink that beer with the lesser amount rather than forgo a beer altogether!
I <3 Beer. [UPDATE: If you love beer, and I assume you do since you're still reading this, I wrote a more recent post about my top five gluten free beers.]
What do ya’ll think? Should companies post the volume of gluten on their labels? An estimated volume? I’m not sure how gluten is measured. ?? Questions, questions!Tags: beer, corona, gluten free, labeling