Last spring, Surly Brewing unveiled a couple of “gluten-reduced” beers at its beer hall, becoming the first brewery in the Twin Cities to offer a traditional, barley-brewed beer in which the gluten had been extracted. (Local gluten-free brewery Burning Brothers brews with gluten-free grains – such as sorghum and brown rice – so there is no need to remove the gluten.)

Now, the local beer leader is extending those efforts to its first canned product with the “gluten-reduced” labeling — the new Hopshifter IPA.

The release, announced this month, meets the less-than-20-parts-per-million criterion to call a product gluten-free, but can’t adopt the term since a gluten ingredient (barley) was used at the start of the process.

So how does one go about removing the gluten from beer? Well actually, making a beer gluten-free is sort of a happy side effect. Surly uses an enzyme called Brewer’s Clarex to eliminate the haze that naturally occurs in beer. The haze, as it turns out, is essentially made up of the gluten proteins that trigger those with sensitivities. So remove the haze, remove the gluten – all while only positively affecting the taste of the beer.

“We’re now confident enough to send the new variations out into the world,” Surly said in a release.

Too good to be true? Surly suggests you try the beer yourself.



Hopshifter is an experimental IPA that Surly has used as vehicle for experimenting with new hop varieties for about the last year, a period in which they’ve made about a dozen different versions of the brew. The current variety evokes notes of pineapple, mango and tropical aromatics, along with the typical IPA bitterness.

It will be available in cans only, since Surly can’t guarantee gluten-sensitive tap lines at other establishments.