Modelo sets the stage for Mexican beers and is produced by one of the largest breweries in Mexico, Grupo Modelo. This company is also the home to Corona and Pacifico and exports beer worldwide.
There’s nothing like cracking open a Modelo on a hot summer day and fantasizing you’re on a tropical beach in Mexico, am I right? Now that I adhere to a gluten-free diet, I couldn’t help but think these days were all behind me. So I needed to know, is Modelo beer gluten-free?
Sadly that answer is no. None of the Modelo variations are gluten-free, and they are all made with gluten-containing grains. This will trigger a reaction in anyone with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.
Don’t worry; the gluten-free beer industry is the best it’s ever been, with new breweries and craft beers popping up all the time. Read on to find out a bit more about Modelo and why you should avoid it if you’re on a gluten-free diet. I also include a great alternative to this Mexican lager.
Modelo Beer is Not Gluten-Free: Here’s Why
Modelo has been serving beer lovers since 1925. If you know your history, one glance at this date and your mind is filled with curiosity as this beer was created smack dab in the middle of the prohibition era.
While the creation and consumption of alcohol were put on hold in America, our friends to the south were brewing up greatness.
Modelo was created in Tacuba, Mexico with the intention to become a model beer. The creators looked to German brewmasters and other experts in the field to create the perfect beer. After they perfected the craft, they landed on the name Modelo Especial, translating to Special Model.
The beer made its way to the USA in the 1990s and introduced a twist on Mexican beers. The smooth yet full-flavored lager was a taste most Americans have never experienced in a Mexican beer.
Like most traditional beers, Modelo contains malted barley, which gives the beer its beautiful color and a slightly sweet yet crisp taste. This ingredient also contains large amounts of gluten.
What ingredients are inside Modelo Beer?
Now that we have the basics covered, I thought I would go a step further and break down each ingredient so you can see what does and doesn’t contain gluten.
Below is a glance at the ingredients list
- Filtered Water
- Malted Barley
Read on for an in-depth listing as well as a gluten-free alternative to Modelo.
1. Filtered Water
This ingredient is an obvious one. We all need water to survive, so it is gluten-free. As this water is filtered, it is run through a filtration system that removes contamination.
This can be deceiving at times as I’m sure, like me, your mind quickly imagines a fancy filter that cleans and dispenses the water when in reality, it can be something as simple as running the water through a mesh sieve.
2. Malted Barley
This is the ingredient to look out for. Barely along with wheat, rye and spelt are all gluten-containing grains. If you have experience with the diet, you know, beer is commonly known to contain barley and therefore contains gluten.
The two-row barley malt supplies the beer with the sweet and crisp taste that the beverage is known for.
Tip: If you see malt on any ingredients label, it likely indicates that it includes gluten.
Hops are a safe ingredient for celiacs and individuals with gluten sensitivity. These green cone-shaped plants are known to preserve and flavor beer. This is a standard ingredient in beer and has a huge effect on the bitterness or bite of the beer. In my opinion, the hoppier, the better.
Fun Fact: Hops are derived from the Humulus lupulus plant, a member of the Cannabaceae (hemp) family.
Yes, it may sound a bit weird for those who are not beer enthusiasts, but corn or corn syrup is a common ingredient in most beers. The grain helps to create a smooth and sweet taste and adds to the overall coloring of the beer. Corn, as well as corn syrup, is gluten-free.
An essential ingredient as this is what provides the beer with its alcohol content. The yeast feeds on the sugar from the grains and creates alcohol, carbonation, and other compounds. Yeast is a microorganism called saccharomyces cerevisiae and is 100% gluten-free.
Is Corona Beer Gluten-Free?
While it is rumored that Corona beer is under 20 ppm gluten, it is not safe for anyone that adheres to a gluten-free diet due to health issues. The company does not admit to running a thorough test for gluten, and many of the at-home gluten tests are temperamental and often show incorrect results.
As one of the main ingredients is barely a gluten-containing grain, I would steer clear of this beer.
If you are located in the midwest or a southern state of the US, you are in for a treat. Neff Brewing company is home to the only gluten-free Mexican lager that I have been able to find on the market currently. The beer is named Houston, We Have A Problem Mexican Lager, and is 100% gluten-free.
What Makes Houston, We Have A Problem Mexican Lager Gluten-Free?
This 4.5% lager was created in a dedicated gluten-free facility. Neff Brewing is family-owned and run by a father and son team. The inspiration for the company began in 2012 when the son, Jonathan, was diagnosed with celiacs disease.
Being disappointed with what the current market had to offer, Jonathan took things into his own hands. He used his chemistry and engineering experience and taught himself how to brew up a beer he could actually enjoy. However, this didn’t happen overnight, and it took him years of trial and error to perfect his first recipe.
Six years later, Jonathan quit his full-time job, teamed up with his father, and opened his doors to the community.
Unfortunately, the exact ingredients of Houston, We Have A Problem Mexican Lager, were not found listed on the can or website. The team states that they only use grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, and rice, and since their facility is 100% gluten-free, you never have to worry about cross-contamination.
Inspired by Jonathan’s story? Learn to become a brewmaster yourself.
If you are on the search for a gluten-free beer, you will have to leave Modelo on the shelves; keep walking past the Corona too. Both beers contain barley which is a gluten-containing grain.
If you are located in the midwest or southern state, you can enjoy Houston, We Have A Problem Mexican Lager by Neff Brewing. There is no need to worry here as it is brewed in a dedicated gluten-free facility. If Neff Brewing is out of reach, there is still hope! Check out my top ten gluten-free beers.