The beer for gluten allergy sufferers and people who hate beer

Tuesday 20 Sep 16


Timothy John Hobley
Associate Professor
National Food Institute
+45 45 25 27 06


Mikkel Hansen
Research Assistant
National Food Institute

A beer made with unmalted oats at the DTU Brewery is probably the world’s first gluten-free beer produced exclusively with this grain. Because of its uncharacteristic taste it also appeals to people who normally don’t like beer. However, more work is needed before it is ready for commercial production. The DTU Brewery is housed in the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark.

People who suffer from gluten allergy have to live with a number of limitations in terms of what they put on their plates. But if Mikkel Hansen, who is a student at the National Food Institute, has anything to do with it, they will not be robbed of the opportunity to enjoy a cold beer with their food.

The hunt for a different beer

In the hunt to manufacture a beer unlike any other he first tried producing a beer which featured grass from the Danish coastal sand dunes in a starring role. However, the idea was better on paper than in practice, so he turned his attention to developing a gluten-free beer brewed exclusively with oats – even though oats are difficult to work with in beer production because of difficulties in the process. There are already gluten-free beers on the market, but most have corn as the main ingredient.

By adding enzymes to unmalted oats – which is a cheaper ingredient than the traditional beer brewing grains wheat and barley – he succeeded in brewing a beer, which according to tests from the National Food Institute meets the criteria for gluten-free foods. Test results have been independently verified.

The beer is different than a normal pilsner both in appearance – it is cloudy and very light – and in taste, which is fresh and refreshing, lightly malted and citrusy. It is because of its uncharacteristic taste that people who have tasted it have called it "the beer for people who hate beer".

Not for sale – yet

The beer has been produced at the DTU Brewery, which is housed in the National Food Institute. However, it is not for sale in stores or restaurants – yet. This is because although the beer has been brewed many times in the DTU Brewery’s own patented system, brewery managers at commercial breweries are worried that the atypical beer will cause problems if it is brewed in their systems.

As such, more work is needed to prove how to produce the beer at an ordinary brewery without complications before a commercial brewery will put the beer into production.

The DTU Brewery also plans to study the waste product generated during production as it appears to contain valuable substances which could potentially be extracted and used in food production. 

Read more

The work involved in developing the beer has been described in an article in the journal European Food Research and Technology: Brewing with 100 % unmalted grains: barley, wheat, oat and rye.

The DTU Brewery is working to develop a sustainable brewery based on the latest technologies and interdisciplinary research, where researchers, students and industry in cooperation can try out new ideas. Read more on the DTU Brewery website (available in Danish only).

Mikkel Hansen is in his second year of the Master of Science in Food Technology at DTU. He has completed the brewery engineer education at University of Copenhagen alongside his studies at DTU. When he’s not studying, Mikkel Hansen is Brewery Manager at Hareskovens Bryggeri Skovlyst in the Greater Copenhagen area.