Friday, July 27, 2012

Gluten Free Beer – Raving Success or Costly Failure?

Personally I was never a beer lover. I remember beginning college and having many older students assure me that by my sophomore year I’d become a fan. They were wrong. I’d like to think that I didn’t like it because I intuitively knew that I was gluten intolerant, but that doesn’t quite add up when I look at my love for pasta, brownies and croissants!

While beer isn’t for everyone, I definitely have witnessed a lot of sad faces when I diagnosed patients as gluten intolerant and they realized that beer was no longer allowed. When gluten-free beers first hit the market several years ago, they were met with initial excitement but disappointment quickly followed when it became clear that the taste didn’t quite live up to expectations. The sorghum base (a grain in the corn family) vs. traditional barley, didn’t meet the taste standards of true beer lovers.

Enter a newly released product from Widmer Brothers Brewing out of Oregon – ‘Omission Gluten Free Lager’ and ‘Omission Gluten Free Pale Ale’. Widmer has managed to produce an authentic tasting beer while still maintaining well under the 20 parts per million (ppm) standard set by the World Health Organization for a product to be considered gluten-free.

It sounds perfect. Beer lovers should be happy. Not so fast… A government agency, the Treasury Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is causing a bit of an uproar about the gluten-free beer, citing that it violates the standards of a gluten-free product and therefore should not be allowed to be sold with a gluten-free label.

Why? Widmer uses barley, a gluten-containing grain, to manufacture their beer. This is the reason it taste authentic, they utilize the same major grain as all beer. How does it ‘magically’ become gluten-free? They use enzymes to digest the gluten and this process results in the finished product meeting gluten-free standards. In fact, the beer has a mere 5-6 ppm of gluten, satisfying even those who believe that 5 or 10 ppm would be a safer level than 20 ppm.

The TTB is stating that since the product is ‘made’ from a gluten containing ingredient, Widmer cannot use the term gluten-free on their label.

What do you think? Is it about the amount of gluten in the finished product or the ingredients that are used? Is there a difference between a product that is contaminated with gluten, causing it to exceed the 20 ppm law, and a product that actually contains gluten containing ingredients and therefore exceeds 20 ppm?
Is the bottom line that a product is legitimately gluten-free based on gluten ppm or should the ingredients play a major role as well?

Would you drink a beer made from barley that was certified gluten-free based on a standardized measurement?

I’d like to hear from you on this…

The battle is still ensuing so we’ll have to wait to find out who prevails.
For you clever readers that have read between the lines and started to wonder about using enzymes personally to ‘pre-digest’ gluten for you, there is no such enzyme present to be used successfully at this time. Remember that with gluten it is a qualitative factor vs. a quantitative one. Meaning that ‘any’ gluten is enough to cause an immune system reaction and therefore ill health. This beer product is technically gluten-free upon ingestion. That is very different from eating gluten and throwing an enzyme in at the same time. Good thinking though!

I hope you found this informative. If you are struggling with your health and would like to get to the root cause of why you have the symptoms you have, please consider calling us for a free health analysis. We are here to help!

Visit us at If you have questions or need any help, I’m here for you! C
all 408-733-0400.

I look forward to hearing from you.

To your good health,
Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN, CFMP

IFM Certified Practitioner

Founder of Root Cause Medical Clinic
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”

Author of the eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You!”


Mad Dr said...

I tried Estrella Damm Daura because a restaurant insisted it was GF... I got terribly sick. I avoid Omission and beers made in that fashion like the plague.

Pelinor said...

I drink Tsingtao a Chinese beer made from water, malt, rice, & hops.

Aileen said...

I love Omission and have never felt the aftermath that I do from regular beer. I say it's a go

Lisa Roper said...

I have tried Omission pale-ale & lager and it did not give me any more digestive upset than any of the other gluten free beers. I also enjoyed the flavor much more than some of the others. My system tends to get a little out of wack anytime I consume alcohol and many of my GF friends have rye same problem. But I can say with certainty that this beer along with the Daura did not affect me any differently than say a Greens, Bards, New Grist, Brunehaut, New Planet, Red Bridge or any of the many ciders out there.