Friday after-work drinks could be about to get a lot better for coeliacs, with Australian scientists creating a gluten-free barley which has been used to make beer.
The Kebari barley was created by scientists at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) which has very low levels of hordeins -- the type of gluten found in the grain.
The amount of it is so low, it more than meets the World Health Organisation's guideline of 20 parts per million which it, and other countries like Germany, considers products to be gluten-free.
However, it's not enough to be classified as gluten-free in Australia or New Zealand under current food standard codes.
CSIRO principal research scientist Dr Crispin Howitt says the new type of barley could open up more variety in food for those with coeliac disease.
"Using conventional breeding we've reduced the gluten levels to 10,000 times less than regular barley," he says.
The Kebari barley has been used to make the world's first commercially produced, full-flavoured, barley-based gluten-free beer called Pionier by German brewing company Radeberger.
It's the first such beer under Reinheitsgebot -- Germany's "Beer Purity Law" from 1516, which says beer should only be brewed using barley, hops and water.
The researchers say diets which restrict grains can be nutritionally poor, high in fat and sugar, and low in fibre. It is estimated 1 to 2 percent of Australians have coeliacs diseases, and the condition affects around 1 in 70 New Zealanders.
The scientists are also working on a hulless version of the Kebari barley which could be used in a number of foods including cereals, soup, pasta and flatbreads.
The new beer is only available in Germany, but CSIRO is working with Australian brewers to make a beer using the product.
There are other gluten-free beers on the market which use a number of other ingredients such as sorghum, buckwheat, millet, rice and corn.
The project was co-funded by the Grains Research and Development and also helped in the early stages by the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and The Royal Melbourne Hospital.