Gluten Free Home Brewing Blog
Gluten Free Brewing Not So Different After All
There are many reasons why people are drinking gluten free beer ranging from personal health choices to significant medical conditions such as Celiac disease. Gluten Free Home Brewing was started as a Facebook page in 2010 in an effort to help centralize information about brewing gluten free beer. Part of the issue at that time was there was not the availability of ingredients as there is today. If we wanted malt it meant we had to malt our own grains. There are the same limited extracts today as there was in 2010. That means extract and partial mash brewers face some of the same challenges achieving the wide range of beers styles. However, there are now numerous buckwheat, corn, millet and rice malts that are all naturally gluten free. These malts allow the all-grain brewer the opportunity to brew beer which is very comparable to conventional beers. And it provides the partial mash brewer with malts to diversify the flavor profile while increasing body and head retention.
There are a few important differences to know about gluten free malts before you brew your first batch of beer. First, Eckert Malting & Brewing Co and Grouse Malting & Roasting Co have extensively tested their malts and recommend the use of Amylase enzymes to ensure conversion of the starches into fermentable sugars for the brewing process. Second, the target mash temperature is 163.4 F, which is higher than conventional brewing. Finally, and this is optional, a single infusion mash for 90 to 120 minutes is recommended. While other more involved mash processes also produce a high conversion, the single infusion mash is an effective mash process. At the very least, if you are new to all-grain brewing, you may want to start with this method until you develop some confidence if the brewing process.
Once the wort is collected, simply follow the boil instructions of the beer recipe. Some brewers may want to use a gluten free variety of maltodextrin towards the end of the boil or prior to bottling to improve body and mouthiness. However, this more so applies to extract and partial mash recipes that do not benefit from the all-grain brewing process. Another notable difference is selection of the yeast. Liquid yeast is not gluten free, which limits options to dry yeast. However, there are now more dry yeast options available including a very wide selection from companies such as Mangrove Jack’s.
Another consideration for people who have food allergies, intolerances, or other food related health issues is the priming sugar. We have received many emails from brewers over the years because dextrose (corn sugar) is commonly used to carbonate beer when bottling. Virtually any sugar may be used to carbonate beer including regular cane sugar, brown sugar, brown rice syrup, and honey, just to name a few. Brewers are encouraged to use alternative sources of priming sugar if they cannot use dextrose.
One of the largest challenges to brewing gluten free beer which we have not yet discussed is sourcing ingredients. The average LHBS does not have the gluten free customer base to justify the investment to stock gluten free malts while ensuring the malt does not become cross-contaminated. Both Eckert Malting & Brewing Co and Grouse Malting & Roasting Co are certified gluten free products produced in dedicated gluten free facilities. They both place a high importance on ensuring their malts are not contaminated before they reach the home brewer. Gluten Free Home Brewing is the only homebrew store dedicated to brewing gluten free beer. We simply do not sell any products that are not gluten free.
So whether you are gluten free or are brewing beer for a friend or family member that is gluten free, you will find that there are more similarities than differences as compared to conventional brewing.