Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Losin' the Gluten: Omission Beer


It's everywhere nowadays. From supermarket shelves, to bakeries, to pizza places, and restaurants - food without this grain-based protein is popping up all over. I for one feel very appreciative of it, being allergic to wheat (I can do some beers, but it's probably better I stick with other beverages). Some people are not able to cheat a little like I do - they are gluten intolerant, or they might have celiac disease. Still others who go gluten-free might be focused on a specific diet type, like the paleo diet, or are doing it for other health reasons. No matter what the choice, allergy, or ailment, being gluten-free can mean that good beer is hard to find.

This spring Widmer Brothers put out Omission Beer - two different styles (Pale Ale and Lager) of gluten-free beer. The project was spurred by the fact that both CEO Terry Michaelson, and Brewmaster Joe Casey's wife were both diagnosed with celiac disease. This, paired with what Marketing Communications Manager Brady Walen stated as "a desire to brew a great-tasting craft beer anybody can enjoy," led to the development of a process that removes gluten from beer made from malted barley.

This is a a departure from most of the GF beer we see here in the US, which is usually made from ingredients like sorghum. The process, which involves using low-protein barley, styles that are not malt-heavy, the addition of brewer's clarex, and the full sanitation of all equipment, leads to beers that weigh in at well below the international standard for gluten-free products. Skeptical? Go ahead and type in the date and style of beer into their "test results" web page to see what the batch was tested at. "We try to be as transparent as possible," Walen stated, "what we do can raise some skepticism."

I cracked the Lager first, and was seriously impressed with the smooth flavor and mouth feel. Crisp and clean, this is slightly hoppy, citrusy, and very easy to drink. If you like a good lager, and have been waiting for your magical gluten-free moment, this beer will not disappoint. Though I tried it sitting by the hot wood stove in my apartment, I imagined it would be a great choice for me in the summer after a day outside in the garden.

The Pale Ale was also excellent, and even more suited to my taste in beer. I gave some to my roommate without telling him it was gluten-free (he gets a little weirded out by all the strange foods I bring home), and he was none the wiser. A balanced mix of hoppy and malty, I paired this beer up with some steak and pasta (quinoa pasta - yum) with red sauce and lost none of its well-rounded flavor. I found hints of vanilla on the nose and in the finish. 

Excited to try it? If you are gluten-free you should be. This beer is accessible and excellent. You can check out the website to find a supplier near you!


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