Being intolerant to gluten, or even worse, having celiac disease, is difficult for a number of reasons. Gluten is present in so many foods and drinks, even those where you wouldn’t expect them, and consuming gluten when your system can’t process can ruin an entire day.
Because of this, those that consume gluten are always on the lookout for gluten-free options. If you’re an adult of drinking age, one of the holy grail gluten-free items is a delicious alcoholic beverage that is safe to drink.
Recently, hard cider has exploded in popularity. We know beer and the brewer’s yeast it contains isn’t gluten-free, but what about the sweet and tangy hard cider? Is hard cider gluten-free?
Yes, hard cider is gluten-free since the key ingredient is fermented apples, which don’t contain gluten.
Is Hard Cider Gluten-Free?
In a world of beers full of gluten, and therefore, inaccessible to those adults who are gluten-free in some form or another, the masses have been crying out for a tasty casual alcoholic drink option that is safe for everyone.
Hard cider has recently become extraordinarily popular in the easy-drinking alcoholic scene, and for good reason. This cider is a pleasure to drink, with a sweet and sour flavor, comes in all sorts of varieties, and best of all for celiac disease and those that are gluten-intolerant, almost all hard ciders are gluten-free.
Hard cider is gluten-free because none of its ingredients contain gluten. Hard cider is made from fermented apples, sugar, and yeast that doesn’t contain gluten like the yeast used in beer, and all this combined makes for a fully gluten-free drink.
Hard cider isn’t always just made from apples, either. A hard cider is a drink made from fermented fruit, and while apple is the most common fruit to be made into cider, there are some other fruits that are making a name for themselves in the cider world.
For example, at most liquor stores and groceries that stock hard cider, you can find things like pear cider, pineapple cider, pumpkin cider, and mixed-fruit ciders like pumpkin-apple and apple-berry.
With flavor profiles ranging from super sweet to incredibly dry, there is a hard cider out there for everyone to enjoy.
Why Is Hard Cider Gluten-Free?
Hard cider is gluten-free because it doesn’t contain things like wheat, barley, or brewer’s yeast like beer does. Instead, it is made from primarily fermented fruit, which is naturally gluten-free.
There are 3 primary ingredients in all hard ciders. They are:
- Fermented fruit
- Champagne or wine yeast
Ciders are gluten-free for the same reason that fresh fruit and other fruit-based drinks like wine are gluten-free: there is no gluten in the fruit itself. Similarly, the fermentation process, which is what creates the alcohol in hard cider, also doesn’t produce gluten.
Unlike beer, the yeast used in hard cider is also gluten-free. Beer uses something called brewer’s yeast, which is not gluten-free. On the other hand, hard cider is created with either wine yeast or champagne yeast, which is free of any gluten.
Besides fruit and yeast, some hard ciders have added sugar. Thankfully for those that are gluten-free but still have a wicked sweet tooth, sugar itself contains no gluten. Not all hard ciders have added sugar, though, so if you like a less sweet, dryer cider, there are plenty of choices to be had.
Unfortunately, there are some hard ciders that have extra additives that can contain trace amounts of gluten. These examples are few and far between, but since even miniscule amounts of gluten can make some people ill, it’s always best to check the label.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) decides which drinks are gluten-free, so if a certain brand of hard cider is completely safe for those that can’t drink gluten, it will be certified as such by the FDA, and will usually reflect this on the label.
What Hard Cider Is Not Gluten-Free?
As a rule, all hard ciders are gluten-free. While there is the possibility of trace gluten being present, the ingredients of hard cider and the way it is created makes it naturally free of gluten.
That being said, there are some other drinks that are strikingly similar to hard cider both in name and packaging that can be mistaken for hard cider easily. These drinks do contain gluten, making them unsafe to drink for those who are sensitive to gluten or that have celiacs disease.
The biggest culprit of being a hard cider look-alike is apple ale. Hard cider is almost always gluten-free, but apple ale isn’t. Like most beers, apple ale is made with barley, which contains a lot of gluten.
One of the most popular apple ales is Redd’s Apple Ale. This ale definitely has gluten, and while its packaging is reminiscent of a lot of hard ciders, it is simply an apple-flavored beer, and therefore full of gluten.
Can a Celiac Drink Hard Cider?
Yes, since hard cider is naturally gluten-free, it’s safe for those with celiacs disease to indulge in.
Gluten sensitivity is rather common. In fact, nearly 7% of the United States population is thought to be sensitive to gluten, which comes out to a whopping 20 million people!
Celiac disease, though, is quite different from gluten sensitivity, and much more serious. Unlike gluten sensitivity, celiac disease is an immune response to gluten.
This means a person’s body, if they have celiacs, treats gluten like an invading pathogen that can make them sick, and this causes inflammation and even damage to their intestines.
With something this serious, it’s important to avoid things that will trigger this inflammation. Thankfully, hard cider is gluten-free and safe for those with celiac disease to drink.
Is Angry Orchard Hard Cider Gluten-Free?
Yes, Angry Orchard Hard Cider is certified as gluten-free by the FDA.
Angry Orchard, arguably one of the most popular hard ciders, is thankfully gluten-free! There are quite a few varieties of Angry Orchard out there these days, ranging from a cinnamon-heavy fall variety to an extra dry flavor, and they are all gluten-free.