If you are of legal drinking age, sometimes you’re craving a crisp beer, a refreshing cold brew to quench your thirst. Omission beer fits the bill, including having a gluten free logo on the bottle! But before you order with the bartender or head out to pick up a six-pack, you should first find out is Omission really gluten free?
What Is Omission Beer?
Omission beer is a popular Portland-based beer created by Widmer Brothers Brewing in Portland, Oregon. The Omission lineup is relatively simple (for now), but they do have a nice variety of beer available. They make a golden pale ale, an IPA, a traditional lager-style beer, and reduced-calorie versions.
They also offer both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options, but that’s not the most remarkable feature of their line of beers: they’re gluten-reduced. You can buy Omission Brewing Company beer at any grocery store, convenience store, or liquor store (where states allow it to be sold.)
This beer is made with traditional beer ingredients, which include barley. According to Omission’s website, all of their beers are brewed following standard brewing procedures. Then gluten proteins are broken down by an added enzyme called Brewer’s Clarex. This Brewer Clarex breaks down both gluten and other proteins in the beer.
Breaking down and removing gluten are two different things, and you really need to be careful if you are sensitive to gluten. They are not the same thing. Breaking down the gluten means breaking the protein into tiny bits in hopes the body will not react to it. Removing it means removing the gluten protein completely.
Answer: Is Omission Beer Gluten Free?
Unfortunately, by definition, Omission can’t be gluten free because of the way it is brewed. Omission is brewed with gluten-containing ingredients like almost any other beer.
Omission is brewed as any gluten beer would be, with barley. The brand acknowledges they use low-protein barley, but it is still barley that contains gluten.
After the brewing process, Omission removes the gluten in a proprietary process. They claim gluten proteins are broken down by an added enzyme called Brewer’s Clarex. Brewer Clarex is what brewers have traditionally used to remove the chill haze left from the fermentation process. This Brewer Clarex breaks down both gluten fragments and other proteins in the beer.
(Note that breaking down and removing gluten are two different things and you really need to be careful if you are sensitive.)
Once the brewing process is done, all batches are tested on-site and by an independent third-party lab using R5 Competitive ELISA, a tool for testing food and beverages for the presence of gluten…but independent lab ELISA testing isn’t the most reliable method of testing for gluten contaminants. You can read more about that in this post I wrote on testing and Corona Beer.
The R5 Competitive ELISA Is Unreliable
In trying to get gluten-removed beer labeled as "gluten free," the Craft Brew Alliance applied to the FDA to change the definition of gluten free. The FDA rejected Craft Brew Alliance’s filing, and FDA rejected the use of a new test to back the claim that Omission beer is gluten-free, stating that the method, known as the R5 competitive ELISA, is not “scientifically valid” for analyzing the gluten content of fermented foods to determine compliance with the rule.
The Gluten Intolerance Group did a formal study to see if people with celiac disease had an antibody response to conventional and gluten-removed beer. You can read the study for more information, but results show some of those with celiac did react to the barley in gluten-removed beer.
This, combined with the fact that many who have celiac react to gluten-removed beer, including me, leads me to say that this type of beer is unsafe for those with celiac. I got sick both times I tried this beer, and I know many of my readers have also experienced this from Omission. It makes me wonder how this beer got its certification from the Celiac Sprue Association.
This beer still contains trace amounts of gluten, so if you have celiac disease or severe gluten intolerance, you should probably avoid Omission beers in favor of actual gluten free beer. Otherwise, the possibility of illness is a big risk.
However, if you’re mildly sensitive to gluten, consume it at your own risk. Omission includes in-depth batch testing reports for gluten available on their website so you can check the contents of a particular batch of Omission Beer.
This may be helpful if you have a good idea of your personal threshold of how much gluten you can handle. Please note that even with the bottle's test results, which may or may not be accurate, there can be adverse effects for those who can't eat gluten.
Gluten Free Beer Options:
There are so many great gluten free beers on the market. These beers are made with gluten-free grains like sorghum. Many brands, like Ground Breaker, make great-tasting craft beers. For those with celiac disease, these are the best option to stay safe.
- Duck Foot Brewing Company
- Holidaily Brewing Company
- Ground Breaker Brewing
- Ghostfish Brewing Company
- New Planet
- Lakefront Brewery
Otherwise, try a gluten free cocktail, seltzer, or other alcoholic beverage. Check out my alcohol section to get info on other liquors and beers.
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