An independent analytical lab has tested the gluten content of Prairie Path Golden Ale. The new FDA standards state that any product that contains barley, but can be proven to contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten, can state that the product has been "Crafted to Remove Gluten". Prairie Path Golden Ale is proven to contain less than 5 ppm, well below the currently proposed standard, as you can see from the lab report done in conjunction with one of the top brewing schools and service providers in the US.
We understand that there are lots of questions about this. So we will attempt to answer them here. If we missed something, let us know.
Did you change the recipe? NO. Prairie Path was one of the first beers we ever brewed 15 years ago and the recipe has been the same the whole time.
What is the grain bill like? Prairie Path is still brewed with a 100% malted barley grain bill.
I thought barley contained gluten? It does. However, an enzyme we use in the brewing process, also denatures the gluten molecule.
What is an enzyme? Simply put, an enzyme is a protein that catalyses reactions.
What do you mean by catalyses reactions? The enzyme forces the reaction that breaks down the gluten molecule.
Where do enzymes come from? They are found in all living (organic) things.
Did you try to make this happen? No. We did not set out to make a gluten free beer, partly because 15 years ago when we brewed Prairie Path for the first time the problem some people have metabolizing gluten was not very well known.
What made you start using this enzyme? We have been focusing on chill haze in the finished product for a while now. Chill haze is when the beer gets cloudy at cold temperatures and clears up as the beer warms up. It occurs when certain protein molecules bond together in cold conditions and release from each other as conditions warm up. We have tried a few different products, called "fining agents", to try prevent the formation of chill haze. One very popular product is an electrically charged, inert, plastic. It tends to work very well. However, using a product like plastic in our beer, even if it is fully filtered out before packaging, does not fit with our business philosophy. Also, there are some animal derived products but again we do not want to use them and are proud to brew vegan friendly beers. So, we have been trying other, natural, plant derived products to get the job done. We found one that we liked best that denatures the specific protein molecule to the point where the protein can no longer bond together in cold conditions.
How did you find out what else the enzyme was doing in the beer? We liked the small scale testing results we were getting with the enzyme. However, because the product is fairly new and not widely used (yet), we wanted to know as much as we could about. In our discussions with a couple labs about the enzyme and its usage, they mentioned it also was denaturing gluten in there research. So, we had Prairie Path tested for gluten and were excited about the results.
When did you learn about this? We have known for many months now. We have had multiple gluten tests done with the same results. We also asked a few of our gluten intolerant friends to "take one for the team" and drink a few beers for us. We have been very cautious about publishing this because we wanted all the information first. Our gluten intolerant friends had no negative reaction and said things like "this is life changing" and "I can finally drink a beer that tastes like beer".
What else is this enzyme doing? Because enzymes target very specific proteins and catalyse very specific reactions, we are confident that the enzyme we are using is doing nothing else.
Is there anything else we should consider? While we do not know of any reactions to the gluten to date, everyone is different so some people are much more intolerant than others. If you know you are extremely intolerant, it may be prudent to try a very small quantity to begin with, just to be safe. Also, since many bars rotate the beers they have available on tap, another thing we suggest is to consider that draft lines pouring Prairie Path Golden Ale could contain a gluten build-up from those previous beers. Prairie Path Golden Ale in bottles will not run that risk.