IMPORTANT UPDATE: Since doing this post in late April (with the detailed response from the company quoted below), the company is now stating as of June 2011 that only the Mike’s Lite and Cranberry Lite are now gluten free. See info on the Mike’s Web Page Now.

Okay, I always knew that beer would be off the table when my daughter turned drinking age (well except for a few gluten free beers) and wine was okay…..But what else would she be able to have?  I’m not trying to drive her to drink or anything, but I think we all can admit one of the first things we thought of with a celiac diagnosis is “no more beer”.

Well, Mike’s Hard Lemonade gave me the shock of my life this week when I saw on their website the claim that the malt beverage is gluten free.

Mike’s Hard Lemonade Gluten Free Claim

How is that possible?  I never thought that was celiac safe — it says “malt” right on the label.  Here is what their website states:

Mike’s Hard Lemonade Co. products available in the US are made with a premium malt base (fermented barley and hops like traditional beer) that is then further processed using a highly specialized, multi-stage filtration process. Highly sensitive tests from an independent lab analysis indicate that mike’s® products do not contain any traces of gluten protein (including hordein).

Again, it even uses the word barley, why would anyone who’s gluten free drink this?  But yet again I wondered how they could make this claim– which is pretty bold if it’s not true.  I was so intrigued I had to ask The Savvy Celiac Fans on Facebook. It was a good conversation.  Most everyone was hesitant to try it or adamant they wouldn’t try it.  But some were definitely curious.

One person said, “Haven’t tried it yet, but I used to LOVE Smirnoff Ice prior to diagnosis (a little over 3 years ago). I thought Smirnoff Ice tasted better than Mike’s, but… if I KNEW it was gluten free I’d give it a try :-)”.  Another person mentioned, “I stay away from any Malt as well, but it kinda makes sense. I may give it a try someday. But most likely not.”

And finally another person raised this good point, “I can’t get past the malt, either. I’m sorry, but I find it difficult to believe that anything that says “malt beverage” is GF. This is just one more reason why we need the FDA to get on the ball with GF labeling laws!!!!”

Mike’s Gluten Free Detailed Response

So I set out to ask Mike’s about their claim and the kind of testing they did.  I just got a response back.  Here it is in its entirety:

“Mike’s hard lemonade products available in the United States are lemon malt based beverages (fermented barley beer malt) yet highly sensitive tests indicate that mike’s products do not contain any traces of gluten. As you can imagine, it’s pretty exciting and unique to be able to remove gluten as we have so we cannot elaborate on our filtration process.

Our products were sent to the Food Allergy Research Program at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln to be analyzed using the R5 ELISA test which is currently the industry recognized test for gluten. To be considered gluten free, products must test below 20 ppm (parts per million). In this test one ppm is equal to one milligram of gluten per kilogram of sample. The lowest the R5 ELISA test can quantify is 5 ppm. Our mike’s hard lemonade products tested below the limit of quantification, meaning less than 5 ppm, less than the 20 ppm needed to quality as gluten free.

Because the R5 ELISA tests cannot quantify below 5 ppm, nor can we completely guarantee the absence of gluten from other beverages produced in the same bottling facilities, please consult with your doctor if you are extremely sensitive so the best decision can be made for you in the very slight chance that there would be unquantifiable traces of gluten in the product.”

IMPORTANT UPDATE:  Since doing this post in late April (with the detailed response from the company quoted directly above), the company is now stating as of June 2011 that only the Mike’s Lite and Cranberry Lite are now gluten free. See info on the Mike’s Web Page Now.

I know some people still feel that gluten free should mean zero…and that’s okay.  But if you are okay with the idea of 20 ppm being gluten free, then I think you can try it.  Of course the labeling law is an issue, how can they make this claim if there’s no standard set in the US for what gluten free is. That whole labeling law issue will be taken up at the Gluten Free Labeling Summit on Wednesday in Washington.

What do you think??  Will you be trying some this weekend?

 

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47 Responses to “What? Mike’s Hard Lemonade is Gluten Free?”

  1. If this GF, does it hold true for all Mike’s products or just hard lemonade.
    I miss them in the summmer.
    If it is all flavors then I will be back

  2. Becky, you can feel free to contact them to confirm, but I was understanding they all were gluten free. Probably safer for you to check. Whatever you find out, please report back!

  3. I DO NOT believe that this is gluten free. I drank it last night at our father’s day celebration and I am now doubled over in pain. I barely slept last night due to stomach pain and it was the only thing I ingested that could be the culprit. My glands are swollen as well, which is a telltale sign for me that I’m having a gluten or dairy reaction (i’m also allergic to dairy). So as one celiac to another, I say STAY AWAY from Mike’s Hard.

  4. It appears since this post they have changed their stance: Their website now says: http://www.mikeshard.com/faq.php?cat=Gluten

    “Our mike’s lite hard lemonade and mike’s lite hard cranberry lemonade products were put through a variety of highly sensitive tests that indicate they are gluten-free. The ELISA test, the most stringent test currently available for gluten quantification, indicates that both lite products contain less than 5 parts per million (ppm) of gluten, meaning they can be considered gluten-free.

    In fact, the neutral malt base that has been the core of all of our products since 2005 is also gluten-free – as are the additional individual ingredients we add to our beverages. However, since we do not test all of our final products for the presence of gluten protein, we do not promote them all as gluten-free at this time.”

    I have emailed the person who answered my questions back in April and I look forward to an upcoming post with updated information.

  5. I also tried Mike’s Hard Cranberry Lite. I had a reaction as well. I do not recommend drinking this if you cannot have gluten. I had this last Friday night, and I’ve been in pain all week. (It’s now the Thursday after!)

  6. Well, I have drank both the lite and the cranberry and have not had a reaction yet. I do not have Celiac Disease but am gluten intolerant. Probably makes a huge difference!!! So if you don’t have Celiac disease than I think it is worth a try if you crave one during the hot summer months like I do.

  7. Thanks for this update. My sister sat next to a Mike’s rep on the plane this spring and he was so excited about the new products. However, when I read their web site, I was skeptical. I’m glad I haven’t tried it and I have no intention to do so. Potato, grape or rice vodka, some lemonade and sparkling water will work for me!

  8. I’m allergic to gluten, and I had a mikes last night after reading on their website that they are gluten free. I don’t know about that! I am in a lot of pain right now!! Def. would not suggest drinking this if you get sick from gluten!!!

  9. Thank you so much for this post and information! I’m only gluten intolerant, and I’m drinking a hard lemonade right now, so we’ll see…

  10. I have Celiac, but with a higher tolerance than most. I’ve had Mike’s on several occasions without issue. I KNOW when I’ve been ‘glutened’…there’s no mistaking it, but as I said, I am not as sensitive as some people are.

    For people that don’t know just how sensitive they are to gluten, I definitely would steer clear of these drinks.

  11. I got sick as well, I’ve been drinking one a night for the past couple of weeks and have been feeling very sick but I haven’t been able to figure out where the gluten was coming from, I didn’t even think about Mike’s because it says gluten free….after reading this and reading about the ELISA test Im pretty sure it was the Mikes. I’m going to cut it out and see if that takes care of it.

  12. Trying one now. Takes me about 2 hours to find out. I’ll check back later.

  13. Having my 3rd one now. Feel fine.

  14. Have Celiacs. Had an original Mike’s hard lemonade last night – 2 cans. Am miserable today and will not drink them again. It will take a week to recoup from this.

  15. I have tried regular Mikes and Mikes light. Mikes light seems to be OK. However I have tried the full calorie Mikes and had a (slight)reaction.

  16. I had a Mikes Lite (GF) last night and became very sick. In fact I felt worst drinking the Mikes then I did eating a piece of regular pizza. I wish I could believe these were gluten free, but I will NEVER risk having another one of these beverages again.

  17. I think that there are probably much different tolerances in effect here with most of the reactions. I have not been diagnosed as Celiac, but have many of the symptoms (IBS, Seborrhea, always tired), so I am giving up gluten. I LIVE on bread, pasta and cookies. Also, Mike’s is the ONLY alcoholic beverage that I like (Sorry, Zima). I have never cared for beer, don’t particularly like wine, and gave up the rare Hard Liquor beverage years ago. This forum has been helpful.
    I pose to you, however, this question: For those of you who have had severe reactions to GF Mike’s Lite (Less than 5 PPM which SHOULD be negligible unless oyu have a severe allergy), do you also have a YEAST allergey? I know that sometimes food allergies come in pairs or groups (dairy, gluten, berries, nuts, yeast). Alcohol comes from fermented yeast (as we all learned in science class). Could this contribute to the reactions when said beverage contains such allegedly small amounts? Just wondering if I should give up all alcohol due to the yeast.

  18. Ken, yeast should not be an issue. As a matter of fact Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free pizza mix has a yeast packet.

  19. Just bought Mikes Hard cranberry lemonade (light) and the box actually says “gluten free” on it! :) made my night!!

  20. “I know some people still feel that gluten free should mean zero

  21. Seems to me that mike’s wants both–to be considered malt and also GF.

  22. Since so many with celiac have had reactions according to these posts, I myself as gluten intolerant will NOT be drinking them. Even if the gluten intolerant don’t have a tangible reaction who knows what is going on at the cellular level – it is not worth it for a drink – I will take the extra time and stick to my homemade yummy margaritas. They are more work but they are good and I just drink less cuz I have to work at it. Thanks for the info though.

  23. Drank one last night at the hockey game and was up all night doubled-over. Still not even 100% this morning . . . NEVER AGAIN!!!

  24. Found this site after having major bloating and discomfort last night after drinking just 1 Mike’s Hard Lemonade. I’m just gluten intolerant and I’ve been off gluten for about 8 months now. Don’t know if it’s gluten or something else, but the drink seems to trigger a reaction in people that react to gluten.

    David

  25. I have celiacs and am incredibly sensitive. I’ve had Mike’s a few times with no adverse reaction. However, the issue of cross contamination does arise, which probably makes it safer to stay away.

  26. I had pain from it. However another celiac I know drinks it regularly. So I think it would depend on your sensitivity level.

  27. I’m gluten intolerant, and have been off gluten for just over a year. I had a mikes last summer while camping and can’t remember if I reacted or not. I’m planning on drinking one tomorrow at my college grad party though, so here’s to hoping I’m one of the lucky few who don’t seem to react to mikes. I got them because I was under the impression they were GF, now I’m nervous haha. Fingers crossed.

  28. I have Celiacs, but have never actually had many symptoms of the actual disease. I was tested on whim and came back with huge numbers from the blood test so I then had the biopsy. yep…celiacs. My doctor told me that while I do not FEEL the effects of the disease, internally, all the same stuff is happening that occurs in those who experience and feel all the effects.

    I don’t know if I’ve been contaminated and count on you all to help me navigate these sticky situations. I’ve had Mike’s and felt fine, but I always feel fine. So thank you all for posting on threads like this. It greatly help me and others like me! Now I know…no more Mikes!

  29. Jodi – I’ve been GF for almost two years now – I used to eat gluten all the time and never had a reaction. It takes a while to get it out of your system to the point that your body can regain a new balance AND THEN you’ll feel the gluten if you should try to cheat or if you just have accidents. It’s amazing how I started in the beginning feeling like it was worth “cheating” every now and then to shifting to the “NO WAY JOSE!” – nothing about bread / gluten looks good anymore.

    Although Mikes Hard Lemonade has been my go to summer-time evening drink – just a couple a week the past few summers, and tonight I had my first of this summer and thought – “hum I better look this up” I had a stomach ache – nothing serious. I wonder if it’s just the alcohol since I have it so rarely? I think I’ve got to try that rice, potato, or grape vodka, lemonade seltzer concoction suggested above and compare. I’ll certainly take it slow for a while and see how it goes.

  30. The mike’s hard Smashed Apple Cider is also gluten free. The label says it on the front. It’s gross to me but, gluten free. Lol! It’s made of fermented apple cider so, that should be true.

  31. My hands and feet went numb and my feet and ankles swelled up within a hour of drinking a Mike!s hard lemonade. I also eat a veggie hoagie on Italian bread a few hours before. Felling sick now and belching. Has anyone had the feet swelling.? Just wondering if that is a celiac s sign. I have been trying to stay away from gluten but it is a struggle. I was alway sick as a child and hospitalized after drinking milk @ 16. Never got an answer. Teen years I was doubled over in pain all the time and blamed it on menstral cycle. I have never been able to concieve. In my twenties, I started to have swollen breast and hives and for some reason diagnosed myself as allergic to latex ! In my thirties, I started gaining weight quickly and began having more skin problems: rosecia and burning hands. I was at the doctor constantly for sinus infections and headaches. My stomach looks swollen all the time. I am now in my forties and now think it is gluten. My father suffers from diverticulitis and I have cousins that have been diagnosed with celic disease. So here I am still not positive about my condition but I know it’s not normal. One other think, ice cream gives me the itch and soft stool. But over the years. I have determined that when I eat

  32. Gluten I become constipated but if I eat ice care am I am in the bathroom all day. Gross but true! Please share what ou think as I have not had any success in determining whether I am really a celiac. My symptoms are over the place. My feet are tingling and numb as I type and my fingers are too. :( so frustrated!

  33. I am only gluten intolerant but have not felt well in a few days. the only culprit I have had in the last few days was Mikes Hard products. I assume that is the problem and will no longer be consuming them. Thanks for the info.

  34. It’s not worth it. I tried it last night while I was out and definitely felt it. From now on if its not wine or clearly labeled Gluten Free, I’m not playing around! Thankfully I have found some hard ciders that are both delicious and GF.

  35. It’s weird how some people react badly and others do not… I am wondering if it is bc some are actually have a wheat allergy instead of gluten sensitivity… I’m not sure which one I have so I avoid both but I have had items with gluten in it that don’t bother me and other items that are gluten free but have wheat (as is the idea here with certain Mike’s hard drinks) and have had severe stomach and joint pain from those. I don’t drink beer but I do drink wine and find that wine doesn’t bother me at all (yeast is ok!) but hard beverages tend to make my stomach hurt and hands feel swollen (the swelling is due to the liquor and the carbonation so Margaret that may be what’s bothering you?). Mikes does the same except with less reaction. Carbonation hurts stomach and I can definitely tell its pain from the carbonation with Mike’s hard lemonade drinks. But they make my fingers feel a little puffy which may be from the grains. I am figuring I have a wheat allergy and not a gluten allergy/sensitivity. In which case mikes would bother me wether it was gluten free or not. Wondering if this is the case with others?? Just figured I would throw that out there just in case it had potential to help. Might not thought,

  36. I’ve noticed several people commenting that they got sick after a Mike’s Hard.
    ONLY the light versions are considered to be gluten free – not the regular versions.
    If it doesn’t say “mike hard light” / it’s NOT gluten free.

  37. I am gluten intolerant, and for 2 years now I have been drinking Corona Beer Reg. or Light. and have not problem.

    d.c.

  38. Hey there DC, I wanted to reply to the Corona comment. The Savvy Celiac is not endorsing the claim that Corona is safe for celiacs. One of my fellow celiac bloggers, Gluten Dude, did a nice job of wading through the Corona confusion: http://glutendude.com/alcohol/is-corona-gluten-free/
    I would HIGHLY recommend anyone on the GF diet who may be considering cracking open a Corona read his post which says Corona doesn’t claim it is gluten free, but it tests below 20 ppm even though it is made with barley. It is confusing, but worth being educated on.

  39. I agree. I had one bottle and spent the whole night awake in abdominal pain. That almost never happens to me anymore. It was the only item that could have caused it. I won’t try it again. I kind of second-guessed myself for a bit because of the GF claims, but obviously others have had the same reaction and I was right.

  40. I was diagnosed with Celiac’s last year (14 months) and saw this post about Mike’s. The only reaction I have had is some bloating, but I don’t drink more than two anyway. I also had read and heard that FDA says anyone can pretty much slap on a label that says g-free as long as it is less than 20ppm. I think that is why they can and do. Like others’ advice, when in doubt, don’t.

  41. My wife was recently diagnosed with a gluten intolerance but she can drink Mike’s with no issues. I suppose it depends on the individual and how bad the intolerance is. Seems like the only way to find out is to try it and see how you react.

  42. I stumbled across this page while doing some research about Mikes being gluten free, our what it was brewed from. My son has a gluten allergy-he breaks out in hives and gets intestinal issues, as well as asthma. His allergist told me not to bother with celiac testing as it requires an intestinal biopsy, and we know he cannot eat gluten-positive RAST and scratch/intradermal anyhow. I can eat or drink most things, but I have had colitis for 30 years.

    Lately I’ve had some issues, mainly seem to be due to rye bread, certain cereals. I really enjoy Mikes, in particular the Mango-which lately is impossible to find. I’ve noticed the last 4 times I’ve drank the lemonade or other, like strawberry lemonade, raspberry lemonade, black cherry lemonade that the next day I have the worst intestinal issues.

    I’m certain it is from the Mikes. I’m not sure if my colitis is flaring up, or if I’m sensitive to the barley or the dyes, or carbonation, or what. I can handle beer, or soda pop. Which is why I’m surfing around reading because the while thing is puzzling, and draining on me. No more Mikes, that is certain!!! Boo hoo, as it is part of summertime to me!!

    interested to hear if others have problems with Mikes.

  43. Hi, I enjoyed one of the Mike’s hard lemonades last night and I am fine today but I a gluten sensitive only.

  44. Yup, I got heightened IBS due to this hard “lemonade” which could be honest like Redd’s calling their product “Apple-Ale” (vice cider). Mike’s ‘Hard “Lemon-Ale”‘ may actually sell better as well as get them out of indirect responsibility for discomforture.

  45. Had been researching this topic, decided to try the Mike’s Lite Lemonade two nights ago. I’ve had the worst reaction that I’ve had in years. I was diagnosed with celiac 16 years ago. First was bloating, constipation, abdominal pain, then diarrhea. Every joint and bone in my body hurts. Don’t do it.

  46. OMG I can’t believe what I am reading. I thought it was just me. I drank Mike’s Harder mango punch and had the worst stomach pain ever. Plus I became extremely depressed and crying. Can this actually be from gluten?? I have been on Paleo for 3.5 months and this is the first time I’ve swayed from the diet. Is this truly a reaction to gluten? My nose is stuffy and I feel miserable. I only had 1 can??? HELP

  47. WOW sick as hell after drinking mike harder mango punch.

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