Gluten Free Home Brewing Blog

Steps To Designing A Gluten Free Beer Recipe

By GFHB  -  December 4th, 2016

  1. Beer Style – Designing a beer recipe starts by identifying the style of beer you want to create. The Beer Judge Certificate Program (BJCP) provides style guidelines which include aroma, appearance, flavor, mouthfeel, overall impression, comments, ingredients and vital statistics. While the BJCP style guidelines list ingredients, this information includes base ingredients that are generally used in that style of beer. This is not to be confused for a recipe.
  2. Equipment & Constants – When deciding what style of beer recipe you want to design it is imperative to consider your brewing equipment and brewing constraints. Your brewing equipment will set limits to the batch size and mash technique. But other constants that need to be considered include temperatures, timing and water profile.
  3. Batch Size – There are several variables to consider when deciding how much beer to brew. First determine your target beer volume that you want filling your bottles or kegs, and then work backwards. The batch size needs to account for losses due to boil off, grain and hop absorption, trub, and dead space in the brew kettle, fermentor, bottles or kegs.
  4. Grain Bill – The grain bill is the most challenging step in designing a gluten free beer recipe. There are far more varieties of conventional malts than there are gluten free malts. Therefore a single gluten free malt may be used to substitute multiple conventional malts. Additionally, the profile of gluten free malts will vary as compared to the malt it is being substituted for. By accounting for the target OG, pre-boil volume and mash efficiency you will derive at a total grain bill. Now you can calculate the total amount of grain to reach the target OG.
  5. Hops Bill – Hops can be used at four times during the brewing process to achieve different effects. The addition of hops at the beginning of the boil attributes to bitterness, the middle of the boil attributes to flavor, and the end of boil attributes to aroma. Dry hopping is done during fermentation which attributes to flavor and aroma while not influencing bitterness.
  6. Herbs & Spices – Herbs and spices are also influenced by when during the boil they are added. The earlier herbs and spices are added to the boil the fewer flavors they impart onto the beer. For this reason herbs and spices are generally added within the last fifteen minutes of the boil.
  7. Yeast Strain – Dry yeasts are gluten free and safe to use in brewing gluten free beers. The flavors produced by the yeast strain must match the beer style.
  8. Mash Technique – Gluten free malts require a higher mash temperature and the use of amylase enzymes to convert the starches into fermentable sugars. A mash temperature of 163.4F conducted in a single infusion mash is recommended by our malters. The target mash temperature is achieved by calculating the ambient grain temperature with the any heat loss from equipment to derive at the strike water temperature. Compensating for the all these variables is crucial when using a cooler mash tun because once the strike water and grain are combined, there is no way to adjust the mash temperature. It is a good idea to rinse out a cooler mash tun with hot water before adding the strike water. This will increase the temperature of the cooler itself, which in return, will draw less heat from the strike water and ultimately the target mash temperature. Even with this practice, you may still find it is necessary to increase the strike temperature by a few degrees on subsequent brew days until you dial in the strike temperature.
  9. The Tasting – Despite your best efforts it is unlikely your first attempt at a recipe will be perfect. Evaluate your beer using the BJCP style guidelines and review your brew day journal. Two main points of emphasis while tasting your beer are how close you were to your target, and achieving your target and realizing it did not achieve the desired effect. After collecting your tasting notes, reviewing your brew day journal, and making any adjustments…start the whole process over again!

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