You probably already know this, but there’s been a lot of debate about the gluten-free movement over the last few years. Some studies have indicated that excluding gluten from your diet could increase your risk for diabetes, while others show that gluten-free eaters consume above-average levels of mercury and arsenic.
Health craze or not, gluten simply isn’t an option for people diagnosed with celiac disease, for whom eating gluten causes an immune reaction that leads to bloating and a very unhappy digestive system. And for those who love products that are pretty much unavoidably packed with gluten—like an ice-cold beer, for example—the diagnosis can be tough (if not impossible) to work around.
At least in the beer department, however, there’s some new hope thanks to a special new Witkop breed of an African grain called teff. The Ethiopian grain can be used in place of barley for malting and brewing gluten-free beer, according to a new study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
In the study, researchers examined the results of malting the Witkop teff grain, which involves steeping, germinating, and drying the grains to determine the optimum conditions for brewing.
Although they found that the Witkop teff took longer to malt than traditional brewers’ barley, the team concluded that celiac-friendly teff has the potential to become a viable raw material for beer production. The only catch, however, is that making Witkop teff beer will likely require custom equipment to produce it on a large commercial scale.
In the meantime, though, there are plenty of solid gluten-free alcoholic beverage options to satisfy your craving—like a straightforward vodka martini, or a simple glass of wine.