There’s no omitting taste with this gluten-free brew!

4 Nov

If my doctor told me I had to stop drinking beer due to a medical condition, I’d probably cry.  I would most likely throw a hissy-fit and it would definitely have an enormous impact on my lifestyle in addition to forcing me to adapt to an entirely new diet.  And that’s really no fun. 

Luckily, I do not have an allergy that would force me to stop drinking beer.  But millions of Americans do, and gluten-free diets are becoming more commonplace as celiac sufferers and those with a gluten-intolerance or sensitivity have to adapt to a whole new diet—one that omits any product that contains wheat, barely and rye.  For those with this restriction, that often means giving up some of their favorite foods—pasta, pizza, cupcakes…and of course, for many, beer. 

The selection of gluten-free beers on the market has grown immensely over the past few years and craft brewers across the country have been offering some gluten-free options, usually using sorghum, buckwheat, quinoa and even rice, as a substitute for malted barley or wheat.  The movement is so popular that even Anhueser-Busch InBev has a beer option for the celiac-sufferers—Redbridge.  There are also many more craft options out there created by microbreweries. 

But commercially, nobody has created a beer using the traditional four ingredients—malted barley, water, yeast and hops—that is, until Widmer Brothers Brewing based out of Portland, Ore., released their option earlier this year, a brand appropriately named “Omission.”

Sure, those avoiding gluten can always opt to drink hard cider—I know many of my regulars at the bar that live gluten-free often opt for this—but that doesn’t satiate the craving for a hoppy, delicious, well-crafted brew.    

Until now.  And for those who have tasted the gluten-free beers out there, whether out of curiosity or because of dietary restrictions know that there’s just something missing.  Most don’t really taste like beer.    

The people over at Widmer Bros have recognized this lack of a satisfying gluten-free beer and made it their mission (pun intended) to create a brew that tasted, well, like a “regular” beer.  And they even went out of their way to create two different but recognizable and satisfying styles—a sessionable, light blonde, almost German (Helles)-style lager and a hoppy, amber-colored American pale ale, an essential west-coast style, brewed with the distinctive aroma of Cascade and Citra hops.  We were lucky enough to taste both last week at Swine in the West VIllage, where representatives of the brewery were present. 

 Both options are highly approachable.  And just like choosing a candidate to vote for in this upcoming election, some of us prefer a light, easy drinking lager while some of us may prefer a more bold, classic-style pale ale—we live in America and we have the freedom to choose!  Even if we can’t have gluten!  Yeah!

And they’re both really good.  Coming from a person who is blessed to not have celiac or any sensitivity to gluten, both styles satisfied my need for a well-crafted, easy drinking beer.  If handed one blindly without the knowledge of its “secret,” I would still think, “Hey…yeah…this is a great beer.”

So how did Widmer Bros create a gluten-free beer using barley?  Isn’t barley the celiac’s enemy?  Well, that answer is purely scientific—they extracted the protein from their beer using a handy little enzyme called Brewer’s Clarex that breweries have been using for years in order to clarify their beer.  It seems that this handy enzyme also has the ability to extract that nasty gluten protein that celiacs and those with a sensitivity have come to loathe so much.  Both brews actually contain both Caramel and Pale malts—no gluten-free substitutes here.    

And to prove that it’s not a farce, Widmer Brothers tests every batch: Both at the brewery, with their own staff of scientists, and through the aid of an independent lab, using the R5 Competitive ELISA test.  This specific test insures that the detectable presence of gluten measures below the standard of 20 ppm (parts per million) or less so that it can be called “gluten-free.”  Still not convinced?  Every bottle of Omission beer contains a date on the label that when entered on Omissiontest.com reveals a photocopied result of the beer’s test with ELISA.  There’s your revelation, right there—this beer you’re drinking has an almost untraceable amount of gluten.

The best is the explanation for the creation of this beer–not just because of the basic lack of decent and drinkable gluten-free brews—that’s self-explanatory.  But for Widmer Brothers the reason was much more personal—Both the CEO of the Craft Brew Alliance, Terry Michaelson, and the wife of Widmer Bros’ brewmaster, Joe Casey, have been unable to drink beer for many years due to their own gluten-intolerance:  This made the quest to create a GF beer brewed with traditional ingredients even more of an important issue and a project that took years to perfect.      

And as more and more people are living gluten-free, the quest for a decent brew that meets their dietary restrictions will grow.  My regular at the bar who shuns beer festivals and jealously eyes beer-drinkers at the bar?  She can now drink this.  No longer restricted to ciders, now everyone (of age) can enjoy a decent brew thanks to Widmer Brothers.  Look for Omission at your favorite craft beer bar or store.  Mission complete.       

 

 

          

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