Australian researchers have taken on the plight of those unable to stomach regular beer, by developing a gluten-free style of barley which would enable coeliacs and the diet conscious to knock back a cold one.
The world's first gluten-free barley beer will appear in German supermarkets on Friday, with the hope for more products to follow in other markets around the world.
So, how can barley, a gluten-containing grain, be gluten free? Using conventional plant breeding methods, CSIRO researchers have developed Kebari barley, a world-first barley grain that has ultra-low levels of hordeins, the type of gluten found in barley.
“Using conventional breeding we’ve reduced the gluten levels to 10,000 times less than regular barley, which more than meets the World Health Organisation’s recommendation for calling a grain gluten-free,” CSIRO Principal Research Scientist Dr Crispin Howitt said.
German beer brewing company Radeberger has used Kebari barley to make Pionier, the world’s first commercially produced, full-flavoured barley-based gluten-free beer.
“It’s really exciting seeing the first product made with the malted version of our Kebari grain. We hope it’s the first of many products,” Dr Howitt said.
Although Pionier beer is only available in Germany, there's certainly hope Australia brewers will use Kebari barley to develop their own gluten-free barley beers for coeliacs around the country to enjoy.
Continued development of Kebari could also lead to the gluten-free grain being used in a range of gluten-free products, including breakfast cereals, pasta and flatbreads. This will require researchers to develop a hulless version as, while Kebari barley is extremely low in gluten, it cannot be called 'gluten-free' in Australia or New Zealand under the current Food Standards Code.
The CSIRO said once the development of a hulless version of Kebari is complete, there is a plan to work with manufacturers to bring a range of foods containing Kebari barley to Australian consumers.