Beyond the beer: The story of the development, production, and stewardship of malted barley based beers made with gluten specific protease

Joe Casey (1); (1) Craft Brew Alliance,

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

Because most beers contain gluten from the use of malted cereals, such as barley or wheat, they have long been excluded from the diets of those medically sensitive to gluten as well as those who wish to avoid or minimize gluten for reasons of personal choice. Today, science and food technology allows brewers to make barley malt based beers that can sometimes be labeled as gluten-free or, more commonly, labeled with other qualified phrases indicating a reduced level of gluten because these beers have gluten contents below 20 ppm. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) current proposal is that foods and beverages making gluten-free claims must, amongst other things, measure below 20 ppm gluten. However, the issue is outstanding and a final decision has not been made despite the topic being on FDA’s agenda since 2007. The U.S. federal agency that regulates malt beverages, the Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), is currently relying on the FDA to finalize the definition of "gluten-free" before deciding how it wants to regulate gluten content label claims despite its power to regulate gluten claims separately from the FDA. Since 2012 Omission beers, brewed with 100% barley malt as the only fermentable ingredient, have been sold in the U.S.A. and other parts of the world. The production of Omission entails manufacturing and QA complications beyond those normally encountered in a brewery. Omission also birthed a mandate to aggressively and proactively engage with the FDA and the TTB, members of the U.S. Congress, regulatory bodies located outside of the United States, attorneys, lobbyists, the press, customers, and consumer and industry trade groups.

Joe Casey is the director of brewing of Craft Brew Alliance and brewmaster and co-founder of Omission Beer. Joe’s interest in fermentation science began in college while studying biology. Joe began his brewing industry career when he joined Widmer Brothers Brewing Company in 1995 and took employment as a keg washer. He shortly thereafter transitioned into the brewing department as well as graduated from Portland State University with a B.S. degree in biology. Joe later earned his Diploma of Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling. Joe has worn many hats at Widmer Brothers and CBA over the past 20 years, and he continues to do so today. Joe is the president of the District Northwest Master Brewers Association of the Americas, is a Diploma member of the IBD, serves as CBA’s Technical and Board representative to the American Malting Barley Association and also to the Hop Research Council, and also represents CBA in various cider trade associations. Joe’s wife Sara is a celiac, as is the previous CEO of CBA, and they both were the motivation behind the development of Omission; a pioneering barley malt based beer brand that is the U.S. industry leader in the gluten-free beer category.