Omission Beer Press Release

A few weeks ago, I posted about a mysterious invitation I got to a beer tasting event. The event was delayed until next week, but today I got a press release from them. Here it is in its entirety. It mentions that the beer is brewed using barley, which is a source of gluten. I’ll be curious to hear what they’re doing to remove the gluten from the beer. The press release also mentions that the CEO is celiac, and so is the wife of the brewmaster.

Check it out.

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 two 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.

I’ll be attending the event next week, and bringing along our official gluten free beer correspondant so that we can get an educated taster to give the beer a try. We’ll post our results after the event!

Gluten Free Controversy on Dr. Oz

We were notified that Dr. Oz was doing a segment on gluten free diets on his TV show today. Naturally, we had to tune in. Here’s the executive summary: If you’re sensitive to gluten, then you should probably stop eating it. 99% of the people who are gluten intolerant still don’t know it. However, the gluten-free diet isn’t necessarily healthy, and is not a good way to lose weight.

For the curious, you can watch the episode online here on the Dr. Oz website.

I wasn’t actually aware that anybody was touting the gluten-free diet as being great for weight loss. So that was news to me. On the show they did some product comparisons, and the basic gist of the matter was that gluten free versions of many popular foods are more caloric and contain less fiber. Of course, we ARE talking about a TV show here, so they might have just picked out the most egregious offenders, because that makes for good TV. At the same time, we’ve spent some words on this blog talking about gluten free products and health. Mostly it’s been me complaining about how most all gluten free breads are made of starch and rice flour.

I’ve said it before, and I’m sure that I’ll say it again. If I could eat wheat, I would. First off, there are some items that you can’t get gluten free. Like a good brioche, a divine sourdough, or good bagels. Second, there is a reason wheat has been cultivated and eaten by mankind for all time: It’s good for you. Whole wheat is high in protein, fiber, minerals and vitamins. It’s an aid to digestion, and has countless culinary uses.

The segment on Dr. Oz struck me as having a dual personality. On one hand, Dr. Oz kept talking about how gluten does cause inflammatory problems in people who are sensitive to it. He even went so far as to recommend that people who have inflammatory symptoms try a two week elimination diet to see if they might have a sensitivity. But then he kept bashing the diet as being unhealthy and fattening.

It was interesting to hear the list of health problems associated with gluten sensitivity. Among the items I heard mentioned were fatigue, inflammation, depression, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, and even heart disease and cancer. Also, they mentioned that the inflammation caused by gluten can increase the insulin in your body, which can lead to weight problems, among other things.

Also interesting, there is a one week diet plan on the Dr. Oz website, here. Also, he has a couple of pages on celiac disease and gluten, here.

In the end, I did appreciate the show, although I thought that it sensationalized the subject matter in a way that may not have been very productive. It is a bit of a double-edged sword. I wouldn’t recommend a gluten-free diet to anybody who doesn’t need to be on it. BUT, for those of us who do, it’s truly life-changing. AND, just because something is gluten free, it doesn’t mean that it’s not junk food.

Questions From Our Readers and Updates

In the past couple of days, we’ve received a handful of questions from our readers. I’m posting them here with the hopes that someone else will have some helpful information. We also have some updates on past reviews.

Our first question comes from Jack, who will be visiting Portland soon and will be staying near downtown on SW Morrison. His 5 year old son is celiac and Jack wants to know if there is somewhere nearby to get gluten-free hamburgers or hot dogs. The only place we know about is Deschutes. Does anybody else have any options?

Next, we were contacted by a reader who was looking for a place in Portland to get gluten-free cosmetics, toothpaste, and over-the-counter drugs. To me it sounds like a job for the Triumph Dining Grocery Guide. Does anybody know of a place in or around Portland to get these sorts of items?

Last, we received a request for somewhere to get a slice of good gluten-free pie. We definitely want an answer to that!

Next up, I don’t know if anybody checks up on past reviews we’ve done, but every once in a while new information becomes available and we make changes to our reviews. We recently changed our reviews of the above-mentioned Deschutes Brewery, and of Picazzo’s Pizza in Sellwood. We have news about Sweetpea Bakery.

Look for some exciting news about bread and buns coming this Wednesday!

Site News: New Gluten-Free Restaurant Classification System

Over the past two months we’ve been doing a lot of thinking and soul-searching about how we look at restaurants and how gluten-free restaurants can be. For instance, we reviewed a certain restaurant in Portland, and someone who went there later reported that their server told them that the fries weren’t safe. When we called the restaurant about the fries, we were told that the fries were safe. Whether or not they were safe hinged on whether or not the fryer was dedicated gluten-free only AND all the employees followed that.

So here’s the deal: We know that some of our audience needs to stay away from all gluten at all times, and we know that others are eating gluten-free for health reasons and are going to be OK with some here and there. We also know that depending on how they’re set up, and how vigilant their staff is, different restaurants have varying degrees of control over how gluten-free their food is.

Sooooo… we have decided to create a classification system for restaurants based on our experiences with them and things we know about them. This shouldn’t replace vigilance on the part of our readers, but I think it will ease our minds a bit. We don’t really want people to walk into the restaurants we review and assume that they don’t have to worry. Here’s what we’ve come up with:

Gluten-Free Mostly Safe – We will use this to designate the few places that have dedicated facilities or who (like the Whole Bowl – except for their cookies) are gluten-free by nature.

Gluten-Free Friendly But Ask Questions – We will use this to designate places at which most gluten-free people should be able to enjoy a meal after they ask a question or two and make sure their waiter or waitress is on board. Usually this will mean that we have asked questions about cross-contamination.

Gluten-Free Friendly But Be Warned – A place we might put in this category would be a bakery that cooks wheat goods and gluten-free goods in the same facility and that was unable to convince us that they are safe (Sweet Pea Bakery, we are looking straight at you) and some of the pizza places around town who offer both gluten-free pizza and pizza on wheat dough. While someone who is gluten-free for health reasons would probably be OK eating here, we would not recommend the establishment to people who are very sensitive to gluten.

Obviously what you choose to do with the information is up to you. We’re not doctors, and if you find yourself wondering how much you should worry about cross-contamination, that’s a question for your doctor.

We plan to go through our restaurant listings to categorize everything, but this is definitely going to be a work in progress. If you have any information about various restaurants in town, drop us a line or send us an email. We can’t tell you how much we appreciate it!

Gluten Free Food Fair Wrap-up

We got to the 2009 Portland Oregon Gluten Free Food Fair a little late. They were already doing the lottery drawings. We walked around and sampled a lot of food, took some photos, and talked to people at the booths.

Sift Gluten Free Bakery

Sift Bakery – They are a gluten-free and vegan bakery. A lot of cafes in Portland carry their cookies, which I think are pretty good. In my opinion they make the best packaged gluten-free cookie. They also had some cooking sauces there. They had a couple different kinds of Thai curry paste, a hot chili oil, a Thai hot sauce, and also a Thai peanut sauce. Their peanut sauce was good but I make better. ;) They also had falafel crackers that were really good.

Mississippi Pizza Pub

Mississippi Pizza Pub (See our review of the Mississippi Pizza Pub) – They were handing out squares of pizza. While we were walking around the tables, a couple of times I overheard someone tell a friend “There’s more pizza out. Let’s go!” The pizza was good. Sienna asked the guy there about how to get a crust more crispy and he said that olive oil is good for that. Now we’ll have to experiment!

muruku-dscn4067

Muruku Snacks – SCL Marketing – One of the more interesting items at the fair. These are basically like fried chow mein noodles, and are delicious. I love fried chow mein noodles!

Gloria's Delicious Gluten Free Desserts

Gloria’s Delicious Gluten Free Desserts – This person was selling dessert cookbooks. We tried her samples and they were really good.

New Cascadia Traditional Bakery

New Cascadia Traditional Bakery (See our reviews of New Cascadia Traditional Bakery) – We’re big fans of New Cascadia. They had a bunch of their gluten free products to sample. I tried a piece of their coffee cake and Sienna tried their cranberry raisin walnut bread.

Ener-G Foods

Ener-G Foods – Ener-G Foods had a booth, which I was really excited about. Mostly because they seem kind of hit-or-miss to me and it’s nice to sample a bunch of things without having to buy them. I liked their pretzels but wasn’t excited about their cookies, bread or bars.

Angeline's Gluten Free Bakery

Angeline’s Bakery – Angeline’s Bakery had a bunch of bread and cookie samples out. Their bread is very sort of white-bready, but good white-bready.

Some of the booths we stopped by but didn’t take photos of:

Papa G’s – They make different tofu meat substitutes which we both love, and also have a vegan organic deli with some gluten free items.

Wendy Cohan – Author of the Gluten Free Resource Guide, who also has classes on gluten free cooking. We talked to her for a while about making gluten free pizza crusts and she had a lot of tips for us.

New Traditions Bakery – I’ve looked these folks up on the internet and can’t find anything. They had a bunch of different kind of cheesecakes. The cheesecakes are free of gluten, nuts, eggs, and dairy, which brings up the question: What the heck are they made of? Whatever it is, there was a sign that they did contain soy. I thought they were good, although they really had more the texture of a frozen ice cream cake.

Lingonberries Market – The gluten free, wheat free, allergy-friendly foods grocery store in Vancouver Washington, which we’ve been to once, but keep meaning to get back to so we can take some pictures and do a review.

There were a lot more booths than I’ve included here. There were some booths selling baking mixes, one booth with exercise “power bars” that pretty much tasted like all the rest of the ones you’ve ever tasted, and even a cosmetics booth. After we left, we were waiting for the light to turn so we could cross the street, and a couple of people drove up in a van, rolled down a window, and asked us if it was worth going to the fair. We told them definitely yes. It’s always good to check out new things and find out what is good (or not) without having to buy so much stuff. We’re looking forward to next year’s food fair.

Restaurant Review: Hugo’s Restaurant – Los Angeles

Welcome to our first gluten free travel installment since our vacation last week. As mentioned in our last news item, Sienna and I traveled from Portland, Oregon down to Los Angeles. We were in the audience at the Jimmy Kimmel show, and stayed at the Roosevelt on Hollywood Boulevard (we didn’t really like the hotel much, unfortunately). Of course we would be remiss if we didn’t find some gluten free places to review. Luckily we found Hugo’s Restaurant.

Besides being gluten-free-friendly, Hugo’s has a diverse menu, is dedicated to sustainability, and is vegan and vegetarian friendly. Although the online menus don’t seem to have this feature, the menus at the restaurant have everything marked for whether it is vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, or if it can be modified to be that way. Among other things, they have gluten-free pancakes and gluten-free fish and chips. When I was looking at the menu I actually got kind of overwhelmed by the amount of choices, which is really awesome.

Hugo's West Hollywood Restaurant Interior

We visited Hugo’s West Hollywood location for lunch, and when we arrived there was no wait for a table, but the restaurant was busy. The place is clean and kind of stylish. With huge booths and wood tables and chairs, it has the feel of a cross between an upscale restaurant and a diner. Hugo’s also has a Studio City location and it looks like they have two more separate places to get tacos. One in Atwater Village, and the other also in Studio City. They are also opening a location in Agoura Hills in late fall of 2009. It also looks from their website that they sell very expensive teas.

Hugo's gluten free fish and chips

I got the gluten-free fish and chips, which is actually more like fish and sweet potato fries. The sweet potato fries were good but not awesome. I’m used to sweet potato fries being more like a “steak cut” fry with lots of salt. Hugo’s were thinly cut – more like fast food fries. Although I found myself wishing for some applesauce for dipping, I didn’t have any trouble finishing them. The fish was really good too. Although I’m still looking for a really awesome battered gluten-free fish, I liked these better than the fare at the Hawthorne Fish House. The reason I like them better is that they have a lot of flavor. I would be really interested to see how Hugo’s fish and chips would be with some gluten-free malt vinegar. Our waiter was awesome. The wait for our food was reasonable. Neither of my items were excessively greasy. My lunch was delicious and the rest of our party was happy with their food too.

Gluten Free Fried Fish: Click here for our breaded fish recipe.

We want to know: Have you eaten at Hugo’s? If so, how are the pancakes? We’re still looking for awesome gluten free fish and chips in Portland Oregon. Let us know!

Times we have visited: 1 (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same

Hugo’s Restaurant
http://hugosrestaurant.com/
multiple locations in Los Angeles

Book Review: Living Gluten-Free Answer Book

Living Gluten-Free Answer Book by Suzanne BowlandToday I’m reviewing the Living Gluten-Free Answer Book by Suzanne Bowland. This book promises “Practical Answers to 275 of Your Most Pressing Questions.” It was published by SourceBooks, Inc in 2008. Examples of questions it answers are:

“What should you do if you think you are gluten-intolerant?”

“What causes gluten-intolerance and celiac disease?”

“What are some strategies for eating gluten-free at restaurants?”

“How can you decypher food labels and medications?”

“If a food package says ‘wheat-free,’ is it gluten-free?” (No.)

“Could her lipstick be making you sick?” (Yes.)

The first four chapters of the book deal mostly with the basics, such as defining gluten intolerance and celiac disease, the symptoms of celiac disease, ways your life is going to change, what gluten is and how you can avoid it, and the possible consequences of not avoiding gluten if you have celiac disease.

Chapters five through nine build on the basics. Chapter five is about how to make your kitchen gluten-free. Six talks about different kinds of food you might find in a kitchen, like mixes, grains, pastas, frozen dinners, snack foods, or breads. Chapter seven reviews the grains, flours, and starches in more detail. So amaranth, buckwheat, Indian ricegrass, Job’s tears, millet, quinoa, ragi, sorghum, teff, the different kinds of rice flour, tapioca flour, potato flour, xanthan gum, and guar gum. It also has information about the differences between some of the flours and starches. Chapter eight is about shopping for gluten-free items. Among the topics of this chapter are where to buy flours, pricing of gluten-free items, and how to get a store to carry your gluten-free items. Chapter nine is about some non-food items you wouldn’t think about, like medicines, toothpaste, lip gloss, and other bathroom items.

I don’t want to keep going chapter by chapter, but the rest of the book includes such topics as tips for traveling, dining out, cooking, children, social events, health and nutrition, and developing coping strategies to deal with cravings or disappointments.

Finally, there are two appendices. Appendix A has tips and substitution solutions for gluten-free cooking and baking. Appendix B is an extensive directory of gluten-free businesses.

That’s a lot of ground to cover. Suzanne Bowland’s writing is pleasing and easy to read. It is the sort of reference book you might find yourself reading just for entertainment. I’ll very often pick it up to get an answer to a specific question and then find myself reading the next section. But at its heart it really is a reference book. At the end of the book is a whopping twenty-six page index, so if an answer to your question is in the book, you should be able to find it without a problem.

My one complaint with the book is that sometimes the author spends too much time answering a question that to me seems simple. For example, a question like, “Is something that is wheat free also automatically gluten-free?” seems pretty straight-forward to me, but Bowland takes a page to answer it, and she also seems to complicate the matter by talking about oat contamination. This bothered me until I realized that the book is written so that each question is answered as fully as possible in its own section. That way, a person who wants to know about one thing can look it up and get a complete answer without having to read the whole book.

While I still think it may be that this book goes into too much detail about some questions, it is very thorough, and as I said, it is an interesting read. Bowland’s writing is easy to understand and compelling. There’s something for everyone, and all the information is organized and indexed in a fashion that makes it very easy to find an answer to any question you may have. I think it would make a great addition to anyone’s gluten-free library.

We want to know: Do you have a favorite book for the gluten-free diet? How about a favorite cookbook? Let us know!

Overall rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same price! But it’s a book so… Yeah.

The Living Gluten-Free Answer Book – Suzanne Bowland – 2008
ISBN-10: 1402210590 – See this book on Amazon

Gluten-Free Basics: Beware Foods You Might Not Expect to Have Gluten

I’m at home sick today and was doing some reading on gluten-free living and ran across an excellent list of foods and food ingredients that are not gluten-free. While reading through the list I was checking off items on my mental list of what is safe and what is not. I didn’t actually get too far down the list before I hit “blue cheese” – blue cheese!?!!? It turns out that blue cheese is made with bread.

On further investigation, it happens that REAL blue cheese is made with bread. Manufacturers who make blue cheese the traditional way still start with bread to get their mold and then introduce the mold to milk curds. So how likely is it that the bleu cheese you’re looking at in the store has gluten? It looks like it’s less likely than you might expect. Here’s a site with further information on blue cheese.

While we’re on the subject of foods you would never suspect, I’ve put together a quick list of less obvious gluten-containing items. It’s sort of like a “I remembered that you’re vegetarian so I made you a chicken salad” list. (This is not an exhaustive list of gluten-containing foods by any means.)

It may be organic, but it isn't gluten-free.

It may be organic, but it isn't gluten-free.

Beer – I was gluten-free for a while before I gave any thought to our little fermented friends. Beer is just plain not gluten-free. Also, any alcoholic beverage that is made with wheat and not distilled is suspect.

Bouillon – This is one where a person would probably catch it by checking the ingredients, but might not think to. It’s supposed to be dried chicken broth and spices and salt and salt and salt, right? Wrong!

Bulgar – I always forget this one for some reason. It is another name for wheat that has been processed.

Chewing Gum – Manufacturers coat some chewing gums with wheat flour to keep them fresh. So you have to check the labels. I grew up in the 70s so I believed (or at least liked to believe) the urban legend that chewing gum was made with spiders eggs. Little did I know.

Couscous – You can call it what you like but it’s really pasta. I get it confused with polenta, which is corn, and risotto, which is rice.

Graham Crackers and Graham Flour – Our pal wheat by another name.

Malt, Malt Extract, Malt Syrup, Malt Flavoring, Malt Vinegar – Wave bye-bye to a startlingly long list of breakfast cereals.

Semolina – Fancy name for wheat they make pasta out of.

Tabbouleh – Made with bulgar, which appears above. Yes, I have thoughtlessly eaten tabbouleh at our favorite Lebanese Restaurant.

Udon – Although I love Japanese food, I never really liked these Japanese noodles anyhow. I do mourn for my loss of ramen, though. *sigh*

This deserves its own paragraph: Any Broth, Sauce or Gravy – These are all suspect and should be checked before you eat them. You would never expect it, but the roux in gumbo has a ton of flour in it. Apparently, chefs love to put some roux in their jambalaya. Ouch! And I love a good jambalaya.

OK well that’s enough depressing news for one day. I hope everybody will chime in with comments on food items that you were surprised to find contained wheat or gluten.

Gluten-Free News Bites

Hi everybody I’m blogging on my lunch break because I have a couple of quick news items and two reminders:

Reminder #1: We’re in Blog for Food for the Oregon Food Bank week 2. Please take a moment to donate to the Oregon Food Bank.  To be part of the official Blog For Food tally, please enter “Blog For Food” in the tribute section on the OFB donation page. Nancy Rommelmann has decided to take the campaign up a notch and is stripping for donations.

Reminder #2: If you were planning to reserve a Valentines Day Cake for your sweetie from New Cascadia Traditional Bakery, the cut-off is today.

US News has an article about the gluten-free diet and celiac disease and how some are calling eating gluten-free a fad.

This is a little old, but Allergic Girl posted a link to a New York Times article that tries to shed some light on the accuracy of allergy tests.

Last, Celiac Chicks posted some links to information on which drugs are gluten-free. I remember early on when I was switching over to being gluten-free I found that one of the vitamins I was taking daily contained wheat.

That’s it. Happy Wednesday!

New Seasons Gluten-Free Store Tour Info

Scheduled Gluten-Free Store Tours

New Seasons Markets have scheduled gluten-free tours of their stores to introduce people to what products they have available. Here are times and dates at local stores:

Wed, March 4 – 7:00-8:30
Concordia
5320 NE 33rd Ave, Portland, Oregon 97211

Sat, March 7 – 10:00-11:30
Orenco Station
1453 NE 61st Ave, Hillsboro, Oregon 97124

Thurs, March 19 – 10:00-11:30
Happy Valley
15861 SE Happy Valley Town Cntr. Dr, Happy Valley, Oregon 97086

If you are not able to make one of their scheduled tours, we’ve been told that you can assemble a group of not more than 8 people and schedule a private tour. Just call the nutritionist at a store near you to arrange.

The upcoming calendar for Apr-June will be available and on their website approximately mid-March.

From their website:

Gluten-Free Store Tour

Recently discover that gluten does not agree with you? Join us for a tour of the gluten-free products in the store, and we’ll help you find some new treats to go with your old favorites. We will provide information on gluten-free diets and our gluten-free shopping list.

Gluten Sensitivity – Signs & Symptoms

It seems everywhere you look these day, people are talking about gluten sensitivity, gluten allergy, Celiac disease, and wheat allergy. What does it all mean? What’s the difference between them all? And why is it showing up so much now? You may have considered gluten sensitivity if you have digestive problems, but did you know that it could also cause chronic pain, insomnia, fatigue and depression? Come find out what signs and symptoms might point to gluten sensitivity and what you can do about it.