The Craft Brew Alliance, which includes the Widmer, Red Hook, and Kona brands, is launching a new line of gluten-free beers called Omission Beer. The press release is calling it "the first craft beer brand in the United States focused exclusively on brewing great-tasting craft beers with traditional beer ingredients, including malted barley, that are specially crafted to be gluten-free."
Created by Widmer Brothers Brewmaster Joe Casey, whose wife has Celiac disease, Omission is a standalone series of beers not branded by Widmer. The products will be launched exclusively in the Oregon market next week.
Unlike many other gluten-free beers currently available, Omission beers are not brewed with sorghum, rice, tapioca, buckwheat, or quinoa; they are brewed using traditional beer ingredients: malted barley, hops, water ,and yeast.
I have had a few decent gluten-free beers from Deschutes, Red Bridge, and Green's, but I've yet to have one I actively enjoyed. Perhaps the Widmer Brothers are destined to change that by brewing with hops and barley using a proprietary process that reduces the gluten levels to well below the widely accepted international gluten-free standard of 20 parts per million (ppm) for food and beverages. This is not entirely without precedent, as the Spanish brewery Estrella has been marketing a beer called Damm Daura that is also made with barley but filters out the gluten to a sufficient amount to be called gluten-free.
The gluten-free beer market is growing rapidly, as is the competition. Just recently in Oregon the New Planet brand has become available, and the recently opened Portland gluten-free brewery Harvester has expanded options further. Even Deschutes has been toying with gluten-free brewing for a while. It looks like Widmer Brothers is aiming to become the largest player in the market, with multiple styles of gluten-free beers made with barley. The question is whether the more hardcore anti-gluten crowd will reject the fact that the beer does in fact have a small amount of gluten (though supposedly well under the required 20 parts per million) and is processed in a facility that makes non-gluten-free beers, all things that Harvester Brewing proudly proclaims not to do.
“Developing great-tasting, authentic craft beers that happen to be gluten-free was a personal mission for our brewmaster and me, and it’s a mission that our team really got behind. The launch of Omission Beer is a game changer for celiacs and the craft beer community,” said Terry Michaelson, CEO of Craft Brew Alliance.
“As a 12-year celiac and longtime craft beer enthusiast, I’m thrilled to introduce two delicious craft beers that can be enjoyed equally by those who are affected by gluten sensitivities and those who are not.”
“Omission Beer has been a work in progress for the last six years,” said Joe Casey, brewmaster at Widmer Brothers Brewing. “My wife was diagnosed as a celiac in 2006, and since then, we’ve made it our mission to brew a great-tasting craft beer using traditional beer ingredients that everyone of legal drinking age could enjoy. After years of hard work, mission accomplished.”
Omission Lager and Omission Pale are to be released this coming Monday April 2nd. More facts from the press release:
Gluten-Free Guarantee, Every Batch Tested:
Each batch of Omission Beer is tested by an independent lab to ensure that all Omission beers contain well below 20 ppm of gluten. Gluten levels in Omission beers are tested using the R5 competitive ELISA test. Beer will not be released to consumers until test results are received and after an extended quality assurance hold.
About Omission Beer
Omission Beer is a new brand of gluten-free craft beers, available only in Oregon. Brewed by Widmer Brothers Brewing in Portland, Ore., Omission is the first craft beer brand in the United States focused exclusively on brewing great-tasting craft beers with traditional beer ingredients, including malted barley, that are specially crafted to be gluten-free. Each batch of Omission Beer is tested using the R5 competitive ELISA test to ensure that it contains gluten levels that are well below the international standard for gluten-free of 20 ppm. Drinking is believing.
About Craft Brew Alliance
Craft Brew Alliance was formed with the merger of leading Pacific Northwest craft brewers Widmer Brothers Brewing and Redhook Ale Brewery in 2008. With an eye toward preserving and growing one-of-a-kind craft beers and brands, CBA was joined by Kona Brewing Company in 2010. For more information about CBA, visit craftbrew.com.