Omission's Gluten Free Brewing Process

Last month, I attended the launch for Widmer Brothers' new gluten-free Omission beer. At that time, the Widmer crew did not provide any details behind the Omission brewing process. When asked, they responded with, "That's proprietary."  Given they spent several years experimenting and refining the process, that's understandable. If I figured out how to make a great gluten-free beer, I'd keep the secret to myself.

So I was surprised to receive a press release (shown below) that provides more details on Omission's proprietary brewing process. When asked why they decided to release the details, Ted Lane (Widmer PR rep) told me, "We are releasing it to be transparent and to educate the beer drinker."

The gluten-free category is growing rapidly and Omission, quite frankly, stands out because it actually tastes good (quite an accomplishment in the gluten-free beer world). This leaves us wondering how Widmer accomplished this feat. The absence of information has led to to some interesting discussion. I'm glad to see Widmer Brothers has quickly rectified the situation. While I expect they've held many of brewing details close to the vest, this information will help to alleviate legitimate concerns and contribute to the growth of the gluten-free category.

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Consumer Education Remains Top Priority for Gluten-Free Beer Brand

PORTLAND, Ore. – May 2, 2012 – Omission Beer, introduced by Craft Brew Alliance (CBA) in March, is sharing additional details about the brewing program that allows Omission Lager and Omission Pale Ale to be brewed using traditional ingredients, like malted barley, but without the gluten-levels associated with other malted barley-based beers. Every batch of gluten-free Omission beer, which is only available in Oregon, is brewed following the multi-stage program developed by the brewery, and every batch is tested by an independent lab to ensure that it contains gluten levels well below the international gluten-free standard of 20ppm or less.  This standard is defined by the United Nations Food & Agricultural Organization and the World Health Organization.

Brewed by Widmer Brothers Brewing in Portland, Ore., Omission beers have turned heads in the craft beer industry, celiac community and beyond. Committed to educating consumers about the beers brewed under the Omission brand, CBA is offering greater insight into the proprietary brewing process behind the beers that everyone of legal drinking age can enjoy.

“We’ve had a great response to our new line of Omission beers and, naturally, a lot of questions about our approach,” said Terry Michaelson, CEO of CBA. “After a significant investment in research, testing and development over the past two years, we’ve established an entire brewing program focused on managing gluten in the brewing process from start to finish.”

The Omission brewing program includes additional steps and requires additional care, beyond standard brewing practices and protocols, to ensure that beer brewed with malted barley meets strict gluten standards set forth by the brewery:

  • Ingredient and style selection: Omission beers are brewed with low-protein barley. Style choices are based, in part, on ability to reliably reduce gluten-levels to well below strict standards.
  • Sanitization: All brewing equipment downstream from fermentation is freshly cleaned and sanitized for every batch of Omission beer. Unlike the process used in brewing other beers, where hot water rinse may be sufficient, equipment is cleaned and sanitized before Omission beers are brewed to avoid risk of cross contamination.
  • Brewers Clarex™: Brewers Clarex™, an enzyme developed by DSM Food Specialties and traditionally used to prevent chill-haze in beers, is added during the brewing process. The enzyme, which has been used by craft brewers around the world as a clarifying agent since it was introduced more than five years ago, works to break down proteins, including gluten, in the beer.
  • Testing: Every batch of Omission beer is tested for gluten by two independent labs using the R5 Competitive ELISA. Omission beer’s primary lab partner isEurofins Scientific, the world leader in food and pharmaceutical products testing. Every batch of Omission beer is also tested by the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program (FARRP) at the University of Nebraska. Tests are also conducted internally by the brewery at various stages in the brewing and packaging processes; within a month, Omission beers will be tested internally at the brewery using the R5 Competitive ELISA as well. No bottles of Omission are released to consumers until all results are reviewed and verified to contain gluten levels well below the international gluten-free standard of 20ppm or less.
  • Packaging: To further protect the integrity of the beers, Omission beers are only sold in bottles and never available on draught, where risk of cross contamination from tap lines or server error could threaten consumer safety.
  • Consumer Education:  CBA  is committed to sharing information about the beers, brewing processes and testing so consumers can make a confident choice when purchasing and drinking Omission beer. Consumers are encouraged to visit, where they can enter the date code stamped on their bottle and view their beer’s R5 competitive ELISA test results.

 “Developing a brewing program that would allow us to brew great tasting craft beer brewed with malted barley, but happens to be gluten-free, has been a personal mission of mine for the last several years,” said Joe Casey, brewmaster at Widmer Brothers Brewing.  “With the Omission program, we’re able to consistently brew beer with gluten levels well below the international gluten-free standard.”

1 comment:

  1. I am glad that Omission doesn't use corn. For some people, corn is even worse than gluten.


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