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Your Guide to Gluten Free vs Regular Beer Differences

Gluten Free Beer vs. Barley Beer: What's the Difference?

Is gluten free beer the same as regular beer?

As gluten free beer brewers in Australia, this is a question that we are asked all the time. What is 'regular' beer anyway?!

We mash malted grains with water, ferment starch sugars and add hops – it's beer! The process is exactly the same – and the tastes, flavours and body are even preferred by some people who have the choice of any beer!

"My non gluten free boyfriend drinks these too," says Sally from WA.

The only difference is that 99% of brewers in Australia – and around the world – most commonly use barley, wheat, rye and oat base grains (all grains that contain gluten). Some also use maize and rice – and occasionally millet, buckwheat and lentils, which all happen to be gluten free and are used by Australian gluten free brewers to make naturally gluten free beer.

Malted millet is our base grain because we love the variety of flavours it enables us to craft. 

TWØBAYS brew gluten free beer with naturally gluten free malted grains

What was beer originally brewed with?

There are even question marks over whether the first ever beers brewed were actually gluten free. During the Babylonian empire (c.600 BC), beer was primarily brewed using millet and buckwheat. It was then discovered that sugars found in barley and wheat are easier for yeast to digest (even if those grains are not easier for us to digest!), leading to naturally higher alcohol content.  

Anyone for a millet beer?

In the same way that a rice lager is commonplace in the 'mainstream' beer world, there is no reason that anyone who wants to sample a gluten free beer without the stigma wouldn't tell their mates they are drinking a millet beer – far stranger things have happened in the world of craft beer!

And that is where the fun happens; as with brewing on a base grain that contains gluten, there are no limitations with gluten free grains. 

Are malts the new hops pushing boundaries of craft beer?

For the last two decades, the craft beer world has been obsessed with hop varietals and all the wonderful aromas and flavours our favourite green flowers bring to the party. Other adjuncts – fruits, vegetables, sweet treats, herbs, spices and even sea-life have been thrown in as brewers fight for frontiers of difference, but market focus could now swing back to the trusty grain; where it all begins.

The wine industry is founded on different base varietals, with grapes grown for differing lengths, and endless nuances in soil, climate, sun exposure and altitude providing a wonderful world to explore.

In the same way that some prefer Pinot Noir to Shiraz, some will prefer millet beer to barley beer, regardless of the gluten free factor.

“The most exciting thing about all-grain gluten free beer is that there is so much room for innovation and development,” said Head Brewer Kristian Martin

“This is what attracted me to TWØBAYS. I think people underestimate the range and diversity of gluten free beer malt. Given the quality and complexity of these malts, I wouldn’t be surprised to see barley brewers incorporating some into recipes soon.”

 The gluten free beer brewing process is the same as any other traditional beer brewing process

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