Producing a gluten-reduced beer using silica gel treatment

Kenneth Berg (1); (1) PQ Corporation,

IBD Symposium
Tuesday, August 16  •  8:15–11:30 a.m.
Tower Building, Second Level, Grand Ballroom

The chemistry of gluten has been previously shown to be the same as the chemistry of beer chill haze protein: very high in proline and acidic amino acids. It seemed reasonable to explore whether the absorptive method of colloidal stabilization by removing chill haze protein removes gluten at the same time. To prove this, first untreated beer was treated with a range of silica gel doses, and analyzed for gluten. Second, commercial beers known to be treated with silica gel were analyzed for gluten as well. In both cases silica gel clearly removed gluten, in some cases to below the detection limit of 5 ppm. The doses used to colloidally stabilize beer were similar to those needed to reach “gluten-free” status, but not identical in all beers. Silica gel treatment, therefore, appears to be an effective and inexpensive route to a full-flavor GF beer that leaves no residue behind.

Ken received a B.A. in biology (biochemistry concentration) from Cornell University in 1976, and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Brandeis University in 1981. After a post-doctoral appointment at North Carolina State University, Ken designed protein purifications for Lee Scientific in St. Louis. For the last 30 years he has aided PQ Corporation by supporting its silica gel plants, their food industry customers globally, and by inventing and developing new markets and products. His support techniques include biochemistry, microbiology, optical microscopy, powder mechanics, particle agglomeration, and the chemistry of foods and silica. Ken lives near Philadelphia with his Music Teacher wife Shelley.