Beer is the most widely consumed alcoholic beverage in the world and beer allergy is rare. According to Bavarian Purity Law, beer includes barley, malt, hops, yeast and water, but each individual beer may differ in content and brewing procedures.
True food allergies can result in reactions of hives, stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhea. At the worst presentation, an allergy can present as anaphylaxis, which is a life threatening allergy, where epinephrine would need to be administered to reverse a reaction.
In beer allergy subjects, the most frequent allergenic sources involved are cereals, particularly barley malt and wheat. In a previous post, we discussed alcohol allergy.
We also discussed how alcohol consumption can affect allergies.
One of the first cases of beer allergy was reported in 1980. Barley and malt allergy were the past culprits. But depending on the brewing process, these allergens may disappear.
Further studies are needed to identify the protein modification during malting and brewing. Both procedures may change the allergenicity and availability of the major heat-stable protein from barley to malt and beer. These findings may have an impact on the understanding of future sensitizations in beer allergy patients.
An allergist can do skin testing to the common ingredients in beer. A prick is placed on the body, with the ingredient tested for on it. After 15 minutes, the skin is red and if someone is allergic, the skin will develop a bump (wheal) and redness (flare). Because beer allergy is not a common food allergen, an allergy doctor would take a complete history to see if there are other potential allergens that can cause a reaction. The most common food allergies in adults are tree nuts, peanuts, fish, shellfish and sesame
If you have suffered an allergic reaction while consuming food and you don’t know the cause, contact an allergist or allergy doctor who can perform allergy testing to help determine figure out what was the culprit food.