One morning a couple weeks ago, I received an excited text from city editor Karen Petersen, who had beaten me to the office that day. It read:
“You have received beer in the mail. Seriously. Get here soon so we can try it!”
I was on my way in when the text arrived, so it was only a few minutes later that we were cracking open the package, which contained:
Bottled under the label Omission, it was a bottle of gluten-free lager, left, and gluten-free pale ale.
“Gluten-free beer?” Karen said. “I’m a lot less excited about it now.”
Karen knows a lot more about food and ingredients than I do, and she was pessimistic that anyone could make a decent beer without gluten, a protein — and allergen to many — found in wheat and some other grains.
I, however, was willing to give it a try, especially since it was free, so that night or maybe the next, I popped open the lager.
Within a swallow or two, I realized Karen’s fears were valid.
I am not, like, a beer snob — I enjoy the micros alot, but I also drink Budweiser and Coors with some regularity, even blending in the occasional Pabst Blue Ribbon and Hamm’s — but that gluten-free lager was just not real good. The best description I can provide is that it sort of tasted like a Fresca that had gone flat. I finished it, but more or less joylessly.
Kind of scared off by the lager, I waited a few days to try the ale. Somewhat to my surprise, I suppose, it was actually quite good. To me it was kind of similar to the Deschutes Brewery’s Mirror Pond pale ale, only maybe a little lighter and a slightly more bitter. I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy Omission pale ale, but only because I am not gluten intolerant and have lots of pale ales I like already, but if someone handed me one, I would definitely drink it and enjoy it.
Here, in case you are interested, is the press release that came with the freebies:
OMISSION BEER: BREWED WITH BARLEY, SPECIALLY CRAFTED TO BE GLUTEN-FREE
Coming Soon to Oregon
“Drinking is Believing”
PORTLAND, Ore. – March 26, 2012 – This spring, Craft Brew Alliance will launch Omission Beer, 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. Omission beers are brewed by Widmer Brothers Brewing in Portland, Ore., which uses a proprietary brewing process to reduce the gluten levels to well below the widely accepted international gluten-free standard of 20 parts per million (ppm) for food and beverages. (The international gluten-free standard was set forth by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, which was created in 1963 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization.) Omission Beer is expected to release the first beers in its portfolio, which will be available only in Oregon, on April 2.
“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 delicious craft beers that can be enjoyed equally by those who are affected by gluten sensitivities and those who are not.”
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.
“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.”
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.