Widmer Brothers’ Omission Gluten-Free Beer

As the gluten-free movement heats up in the Northwest, Widmer Brothers cools things down with the introduction of its new line of gluten-free beers, aptly named Omission to demonstrate the uniqueness of the brewing process, which involves the removal of gluten from grain. Omission is a strong contender in the beer market, introducing a crisp, nutty lager, and a refreshing pale ale.

Producing great tasting, safe, gluten-free beer is a personal endeavor at Widmer Brothers. CEO and craft beer enthusiast, Terry Michaelson, was diagnosed with celiac twelve years ago; and brewmaster Joe Casey’s wife has been a celiac since 2006. It’s only natural that these two men came together to produce a delicious, gluten-free alternative that pleases all palates, including those of average beer drinkers and craft connoisseurs. But is it really safe?

The guys from Widmer Brothers say the brewing process is a secret, but they did explain that they are careful to test every batch to ensure safety. The gluten parts per million (ppm) for the lager and the pale ale is currently 5.0—well below the international standard for safety, which is 20 ppm of gluten protein.

According to Michaelson, he and several celiac and gluten intolerant people have enjoyed Omission beers on more than one occasion, and they have given them the all clear. I am gluten intolerant. I threw a couple back. I have no complaints.

Omission beers are not produced in a dedicated gluten-free facility. That made me feel squeamish at first, but brewmaster Casey reminded me that both beers are made from barley to start. To avoid cross-contamination, they brew Omission beers in the morning after everything has been sanitized. To ensure safety, each batch is tested to meet the international standards. That is why they can label their beers gluten-free, even though they’re not made in a dedicated facility and they’re made from barley. Speaking of safety, Widmer Brothers has chosen to sell Omission beers in bottles. This eliminates server error and cross-contamination from taps.

Michaelson and Casey are not only doing their best to ensure safety, because of their relationships to celiac disease; their passions and palates drive them to produce consistently great tasting gluten-free beer. Each batch must pass the standards of a tasting panel for quality control before being bottled and sold to consumers.

Brewing gluten-free has never been easy on the consumer’s pocketbook. Gluten-free grains are typically expensive, which hikes up the price of their resulting beers. I asked Casey if gluten-removal from the barley grain was expensive, and if it would affect the retail cost of Omission beers. He said it did raise the cost, and that each six-pack would be sold at the average price of a typical craft beer. ($9.99 was the rumored price.) If you think that’s expensive, peruse the single bottle, 16 oz. gluten-free beers at your local grocer, and you’ll think Omission is a pretty good deal.

While Widmer Brothers is looking to sell Omission beers beyond the Oregon border, they are staying local for now. Expanding distribution will be a matter of defining what is gluten-free from state to state.

Considering Portland and the local food scene, the Widmer Brothers Gasthaus Pub is now offering a gluten-friendly menu by request. The kitchen staff is prepared to do everything they can to keep sensitive eaters safe. Michaelson will probably do his best to make sure the kitchen keeps its safety standards high.

If you’re interested in trying Widmer Brothers’ satisfyingly refreshing Omission beers, you can find them at these locations.

Have you tried the Omission yet? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

17 Responses to “Widmer Brothers’ Omission Gluten-Free Beer”

  1. Unfortunately, as of today (April 6), Widmer still does not have the new beer on its website and I am unable to find stores that carry it. Would love to try it, though!

  2. Had a horrible aftertaste – sweet and starchy. It’s better than other GF beers on the market, but not great. I miss beer, but I would rather drink really dry cider or wine.

  3. I’ll take this beer. And I’ll drink this beer.

  4. I’m really excited to try this new gluten-free beer. I just heard about it this week, and now that I know where to get it I’ll be sure to pick some up.

  5. Hi Nicole- Widmer actually has a special website for it’s Omission beers- go to http://omissionbeer.com/find-omission/

  6. Bought a 6er of Omission lager last night. Wow! What a find. Really great stuff.

  7. Stumbled on Widmer’s Omission (the Pale Ale) at Fred Meyer tonight and had no idea they were releasing a Gluten-free line. I’m a former craft beer lover, but had to go GF about six months ago. This is by far the best GF beer I’ve found. Definitely try it!

  8. This is the BEST GF beer I have found that is commercially bottled! It is a MUST try for any beer lover that now has to live GF!

  9. This is by far the best gluten free beer I have had (& I have tried them all.) my wife and I were so surprised that it acually tastes like real good beer (I thought the after taste was fine.)

    I would put this against regular pale ales (& I live in Bend, OR the beer Mecca.)

  10. Jonathon, I’m coming to Bend from Ca. for the weekend. Any tips where I can find Ommision in Bend ? Any ideas would be greatly appreciated !

  11. The Omission is a good beer on its own merits, never mind the special handling required to get it there. It takes basically like a stereotypical craft brewed golden or pale, and that is a good thing.

  12. a secret? they are just using proly endopeptidase to hydrolise the peptite bond involving proline. Its called clarex and anyone can buy it from novozyme and add it to their maturation tanks. Lots of other breweries are going to start do this i think.

    I don’t see why brewing these beers in the morning after “everything has been sanitized” would be any more safe (from a gluten standpoint) than brewing the beer after other batches of beer are made. Organic beers, ya, i get that. but, whatever makes you feel better.

    All that being said, i think its awesome. I can’t wait to try it and i hope they expand it to more brands.

  13. PS, here’s a good link that explains how its perfectly logical to remove gluten after the beer is made.


  14. By far the BEST GLUTEN-FREE BEER OFFERINGS I’ve ever tasted.

    I am Celiac and have an Italian restaurant. We have an extensive gluten-free menu featuring Pizza, Pasta, Beer, Sanwiches and Cakes for dessert. I have had MANY gluten-free beers in a quest to find one that is palatable. We are now serving Redbridge and New Planet. They are good, but this BLOWS THEIR DOORS OFF!….

    It’s on the menu here at Paisano’s starting IMMEDIATELY!!!!!

  15. i’m in livingston montana. any locations i can purchase this beer at??
    thank you for your response!

  16. Since this article was posted there have been some changes in how gluten-free beer is regulated.

    Many breweries start with naturally GF grains such as sorghum, but a few have taken the bolder step of starting with barley malt, and then destroying the gluten during the brewing process. I took a look into the pros and cons of using this approach. The current FDA-approved assay is not suitable for complex mixtures like beer, so an alternative is needed both to test for residual gluten, and, more importantly, the safety of the final product. The TTB, which regulates beer labeling and advertising in the US, has taken a cautious stance in its interim ruling. For more detail:

    Is “gluten-free” beer made with barley malt safe for celiacs? http://goo.gl/yqdp7

  17. I tried omissions in traverse city MI. It was wonderful but I’ve not been able to find it anywhere. I live in Northern IN. Would love to find some.