Brew Blog: Omission Ultimate Light Golden Ale

Hunger makes the best sauce?
Hunger makes the best sauce? Photo by Nicholas L. Hall

My wife and I have been on the Keto diet. It's been a while. I don't want to talk about it.

OK, so I definitely want to talk about it. It's kind of all I talk about. It's like I just got really into CrossFit. I don't have much of a sweet tooth, so it's been mostly easy for me. I don't really miss the chocolate cake, and there's plenty of bacon. I do, however, have a bit of a beer belly. Or at least I used to. You know what I mean.

Anyway, beer is definitely one of the things I've been missing. I missed it during the height of the summer, when a nice, refreshing lawnmower beer helps to cut through the sweat and stink of July swelter. Now I'm missing it as the mercury dips, inviting me to pour something dark and malty in my glass. No stout for you. Come back. One year.

There are a few resources out there that help you gauge the nutritional values in various beers, but the information is nebulous at best. The big boys have that stuff screwed down much tighter, especially on the lighter end of the spectrum. But I'm not really into the whole "counting" thing anyway. I'd just as soon avoid the things that tend toward the danger zone than research net carbs and keep a clicker in my pocket. Which mostly means no beer. Which is fine.

Then, about a week ago, my wife asked for some. "Get something light, low in carbs," she said. I stood in the beer aisle, googling. The lists weren't a ton of help, offering mostly best guesses and highly adjuncted major labels. I didn't really feel like spending 20 minutes cross-checking carb counts, and I really didn't feel like drinking Michelob Ultra.

Let's get this out of the way now. I know Omission is Widmer Brothers. I know they're Craft Brew Alliance. I know CBA is, like, at least in the top ten in terms of size, and I know that Ab-InBev has a pretty sizable stake. So I get that this isn't exactly craft beer. But it's at least slightly craft marketed, and maybe kinda sorta craft-minded. Also, any port in a storm. So when I noticed Omission on the shelf, proudly advertising its low carbs, I decided to roll the dice.

Before we dive in, a disclaimer: This beer is not gluten free. It is "crafted to remove gluten." The stuff is made with barley, which contains gluten. While (apparently) tests have shown significantly reduced gluten content, it simply isn't gluten free. For most everyone, this won't matter. For those who actually, honestly, legitimately have Celiac disease — an honest-to-God autoimmune disorder — it actually, honestly will. While everyone's experience with disease is different, my understanding is that no gluten content is considered fully safe for those who suffer from Celiac disease. I have a friend who once kissed her boyfriend after he'd had a beer, and spent the next day or so fully out of commission. There's a lot of bunk-o pseudo-science around gluten, but Celiac is far from bunk-o. If you have Celiac, you probably shouldn't drink this beer.

Right. So. What's it like? It's like this.

Golden is right. The beer pours clear into the glass, a dark, burnished yellow. A craggy, fluffy head recedes to a slight ring, dissipating quickly. Spritely carbonation gives the beer an appealing twinkle.

The aroma is quite clean and offers cracker and biscuit malts, a pleasant grassy hop note, and some very mild citrus.

The taste is extremely light on the front end, which I would expect. Midway through a sip, clean and very pleasant flavors of light malt come through, the cracker notes manifesting very clearly as saltines. It lacks the typical adjunct notes of most light beers, that kind of syrupy grain quality. Instead, it’s very clean and refreshing, seeming fuller-bodied than it is by virtue of its cleanness. What flavors are there aren’t bogged down, which amplifies them in an interesting way. Still, it’s not really satisfying *as a beer.* It’s satisfying. And it’s *like* a beer. But it isn’t beer.

Halfway through the glass, it hit me: this is the LaCroix of beers. Or it's beer-flavored LaCroix. Which may be a plus or a minus depending on how you feel about LaCroix. To borrow the LaCroix-dragging parlance of our times, this is like if you bottled some water across the street from a brewery with the windows open. I'm joking. Mostly. It’s not unpleasant. It is actually kind of actively pleasant, it's just not even remotely what one would consider a "serious" beer. But I don't think it's really meant to be. It's a stop-gap, a make-do. And in that, it's not bad.

Some of my appreciation may be due to the fact that I haven’t really had a beer since June, but then again, I’m pretty sure that’s the target market. In that way, I’d count this as a success. Would I drink it if weren’t self-restricting my carbs? Probably not. Would I rather drink this than Mich Ultra? You better your sweet ketogenic butt I would.
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Nicholas L. Hall is a husband and father who earns his keep playing a video game that controls the U.S. power grid. He also writes for the Houston Press about food, booze and music, in an attempt to keep the demons at bay. When he's not busy keeping your lights on, he can usually be found making various messes in the kitchen, with apologies to his wife.
Contact: Nicholas L. Hall