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Patent No. EP0949328A1: Gluten-Free Beer Containing Rice Malt

Today in 1999, US Patent EP 0949328 A1 was issued, an invention of Marina Pieranna Bellini, Francesco Collavo, Giovanni Maccagnan, Antonio Pat, and Gian Luca Ragg, assigned to Heineken Italia S.p.A., for their “Gluten-Free Beer Containing Rice Malt.” Here’s the Abstract:

A gluten-free beer obtained from a mixture of starting materials comprising buck wheat, rice malt and optionally a component chosen from the group comprising corn, sorghum, millet and/or syrups thereof; this component is preferably corn syrup; the beer is obtained by saccharifying the above-mentioned mixture, optionally in the presence of amylolytic enzymes and glucanase, and it is particularly suitable for consumption by gluten-intolerant individuals.

Surprising this patent was issued in 1999, a bit before gluten-free became “a thing.” I was taking classes at UC Davis when Anheuser-Busch was sending samples of their gluten-free Redbridge to Dr. Michael Lewis, who had recently discovered he suffered from celiac disease. I ended up doing an article about the science behind gluten-free beer for Zymurgy magazine and did a tasting of gluten-free beers for it at Davis right after A-B debuted Redbridge, and that was in 2006. As far I know, I haven’t seen a gluten-free beer from Heineken, although I seem to recall that their beer is low in gluten.

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