June 25, 2011

In which science happens, and I either poison my wife or make her week

So, we may have made a breakthrough today on the gluten-free front.

I say "we." We're just piggybacking off of a lot of talk going around the homebrew community right now about Clarity-Ferm, a clarifier made by White Labs that apparently functions by breaking down the gluten in beer. Reportedly, this has had a side effect of knocking gluten levels low enough that they aren't a concern to most gluten-sensitive folks.

Naturally, I was curious.
So I ordered some and a couple of home gluten tests and dumped a vial in my latest black IPA batch.

Today, we bottled and tested.

And it was a boy! I mean, this means no gluten.
"No gluten" is technically incorrect, and it's important to note the jury's still out on Clarity-Ferm's effects. The test above (which yes, functioned like a pregnancy test for beer) showed that according to the way it measures gluten levels, my beer has less than 20 ppm, probably the most common benchmark these days for this stuff. A followup test claimed it couldn't detect any of the protein at 5 ppm.

So what does this mean? Well, much like everyone else who I've seen write about this so far, I can only report my results. This is in no way a blanket endorsement of using this enzyme this way.

In this case and assuming we did everything right, it seems this beer will be safe for Mrs. Wife to imbibe -- her first in a year and a half! Clarity-Ferm's not formally marketed for this purpose, and there still seems to be a lot of debate over whether it just masks gluten -- still contributing to long-term health problems -- or truly makes a beverage safe to drink.

In the short term, at least, it seems people are having success with it. Mrs. Wife's a good sport and is game to try a bottle once it's ready (she had a few sips today, so we'll see how that goes). I'll be sure to post what happens.

And, we got to commit science!

The test kit! 
Mrs. Wife figuring out how the heck all that works.

Mrs. Wife putting her new knowledge to work.

There was a lot of shaking for some reason. We tried to make it exciting.

Vials and things! That means this was serious.

Loading up the test strip.

Enjoying the results!