The Making of a (Good) Gluten-Free Beer

updated May 2, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Quick beer-brewing lesson: most beer is made from barley. Barley contains gluten. Therefore, most beer is not gluten-free. This is why I am absolutely fascinated by this new process by which the Craft Brew Alliance and Widmer Brothers Brewing in Oregon have made a barley-based gluten-free beer. It’s science meets craft brewing in the best possible way.

Earlier this year, the Craft Brew Alliance (CBA) with Widmer Brothers Brewing released Omission Lager and Omission Pale Ale. These were two gluten-free beers brewed—somehow, someway—with barley as their base. It seemed impossible. Most other gluten-free beers rely on gluten-free grains like sorghum, which get close (but not quite) to regular beer.

The secret to this gluten-free beer is surprising. According to a recent press release, it’s an enzyme that’s actually been used in the brewing industry for years to reduce chill-haze, the undesired cloudiness in some beers from suspended proteins. This enzyme works as a clarifying agent to break down those proteins, and apparently, it breaks down gluten right alongside.

Combine that with an already low-gluten barley and with keeping equipment completely sanitized, Widmer Brothers is able to produce a beer that meets the gluten-free standards of less than 20 ppm. They also sell exclusively in bottles, never in kegs for restaurants to put on tap, to reduce any risk of cross-contamination.

Pretty nifty, right? Here’s the bad news, though: the beer is currently only available in Oregon. You can drop them a note on their website to let them know you’d like the beer in your state.

Have any of you tried this beer yet? Do you think it shows promise for gluten-free beers?

(Image: Omission Beer)

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