Monday, June 11, 2007

Brew your own Gluten-Free Beer

Gluten-Free Beer : Brew Your Own at Home

I'm not sure how many readers of the Gluten Free Blog are home-brewing aficionados (especially given how most beer-brewing would require glutenous ingredients like Barley Malt, Wheat, and the like), but in case any of you Celiac Disease sufferers are beer brewers of past, you may be interested in knowing you can purchase gluten-free beer brewing supplies now.

Gluten-Free Beer Ingredients and Brewing Supplies / Equipment

A friend of mine, who happens to make some really great homemade beers (a lager he produced years back prior to my gluten-free days was a favorite of mine), pointed me to some information about gluten-free sorghum syrup and related brewing supplies that he recently encountered in a brewers newsletter (at the time of this writing, Williams Brewing is selling the GF sorghum syrup). And, from the information (currently) at their link, I found all sorts of detail about the product(s), including the following which I have quoted here:
From Briess Malting - Gluten-Free Brewing Supplies, this gluten free malt extract substitute syrup is made from white sorghum, and is ideal when formulating gluten free or low gluten beers. It has the same fermentability as malt extract, which means if you use 6 pounds in 5 gallons, you will typically get a starting gravity of 1.040 and a finishing gravity of 1.018 to 1.012 depending on yeast used and other factors.

It has a lighter body and drier flavor than malt extract, and makes a thin and crisp beer on its own. Or add sugar or honey to enhance the character to your liking. Keep in mind that liquid yeast is grown on malt extract, so dry yeast (grown on molasses) is your best choice for a very low gluten or gluten free beer. See this manufacturers pdf  for more information. This is Briesweet White Sorghum 45 DE High Maltose Syrup.
All this talk of specific-gravity and such... It sounds rather like a chemistry experiment! But, I'm sure it could be an experiment worth giving a try if you have the talent, equipment, or desire to try to be the next great gluten-free beer producer!

I presume this it the same type of Sorghum syrup Anheuser Busch (AB) uses in their "RedBridge" beer (which, is actually quite good for gluten-free beer). And, that's what most GF beers like Bard's Tale, New Grist, and others probably use as well. Thus, it seems quite possible that producing a wonderful home brewed gluten free beer is within reach now.

Now if I am really lucky, maybe I can coax my friend into giving it a try. He definitely has the skill to produce a great artisan specialty brew using normal (gluten-containing ingredients), and I'll bet he could do the same with gluten free ingredients as well. At worst case, I'm sure I could get his help/advice on how to do it myself if needed. Actually, the true "worst case" scenario is that I simply go to the nearest store that carries AB RedBridge and pick up a 6-pack.

Gluten-Free Beer Topics

Some related links to other Gluten-Free beer discussions here on the Gluten-Free Blog:

Happy GF brewing to anyone that chooses to gives it a try!


GlutenFreeMappyB said...

Thank you SO MUCH for posting this. My man (gluten lover) just bought all the supplies to start brewing his own homebrew and I was asking him about GF brewing and cider brewing and we were going to look in to it. It was as if you were reading my mind! :)

Gluten Free MappyB

Mike Eberhart said...

I'm not psychic, but I'm glad the timing worked out well MappyB!

celticjig said...

I have been a home brewer for years and just brewed my first experimental GF batches two weeks ago. It is not as easy as home brewing regular beer, that is for certain. I also make hard cider. I am posting on my brewing experience with photos today or tomorrow actually! I haven't tasted it yet - but will before I post. I made an IPA and a porter - hopefully they turn out to style. I contacted Dark Hills Brewery's brewers as they are building the first all gluten free brewery (and still looking for a few investors) and they were really helpful with some GF beer tips. I have a bunch of brewing links on my website - which has changed I think since I last commented.

Mike Eberhart said...

Celticjig -- Sounds like you have been having fun! I checked out Dark Hils website too (thanks for the heads-up):

I found this quote interesting: "The three competitors include Lakefront Brewery, WI; Bard's Tale Beer, NY; and Ramapo Valley Brewery, NY." Seems they have omitted the number one potential competitor (in my opinion): A-B (RedBridge)

I like their plan to have a dedicated GF facility. And, maybe they can consider other grains with more flavor too, like: teff, amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat. And, even things like pumpkin and berries could be neat specialty-flavors (I've had those in "regular" beer ages ago and liked them). Either way, it's neat that there will be other new players in the market.

My home-brewing friend sent me an Email a while ago and said he'd try making a batch of gluten-free beer sometime. Needless to say, I'm excited and can't wait!

Sheltie Girl said...

Fascinating...Thanks for posting the link. I'm glad that celticjig piped in with their experiments with GF beer.

My husband and I have toyed with the idea of home brewing, especially when you can't find any GF beers. They get snapped up at our local Whole Foods.

Sheltie Girl

Mike Eberhart said...

Sheltie - nice to see you here. Good luck with home-brewing if you try it. Sorry to hear that all the Gluten Free beer gets snapped up before you can get it. I haven't had that problem, but perhaps there is just less demand in the Cleveland, OH area.

With all you people talking about trying the home-brewing, I may just have to get some supplies and try it myself. If my friend makes a batch and it's good, I think I'll be sold on doing it myself next.

Anonymous said...

I am a home brewer, my girlfriend was told she had celiacs about a year ago. So I made my first batch of Sorghum based GF beer. I just bottled it yesterday.

I didn't want a boring beer, so I added a few extra's to try to reproduce a traditional beer the best I could, while still making a drinkable beer to work off of for the next batches. I plan on steeping some GF grains in future batches.

I used some honey, maltodextrin, beet sugar and sorghum. Dry ale yeast... Remember liquid yeast are raised on barley malts. And are not safe. If anyone would like to know more about my batch, email me at I would love help anyone who is not able to enjoy traditional beers.

Rick Kaser said...

The link seems to have expired - - I am looking for places to buy Breiss Sorghum Malt and Millet Malt - - any suggestions???

rick Kaser

Mike Eberhart said...

I went to the Williams Brewing website, and I see that the link to the sorghum syrup I originally gave is now returning something like no-inventory-found. So, I went searching their site, and it seems they currently do not have it in stock.

(I just did a search).

Now, I do not know where the next-best place to get the ingredient is. I would suggest calling them to see if they are just out of stock, or permanently not selling the gluten-free brewing ingredients for homemade beer any longer.

Also, I am sure you can get sorghum syrup elsewhere, though it may take some hunting around (espec. to ensure "gluten-free" certified perhaps). I buy sorghum syrup in 2# bottles in Amish-country (here in Ohio) dirt cheap, but I have no idea if anyone sells online. IF you find a good supplier, please post the "solution" here... I am sure others would appreciate it. Thanks, and sorry I do not know an immediate answer to where to get a bulk supply online.

Ivan said...

I am in Canada but I assume a similar trick might work in the US. I used the Briess website to find a distributor (only one in Canada) and then found the distribution list from that distributor and hence found buyers of Briess products in my area. I contacted one of these buyers and they agreed to order me 60L of sorghum malt extract.

Northern Brewer also has it for sale in 6 lb jugs, but it's been unavailable since December.

NomisQC said...

Hey IVAN !

I also live in you still have that distributors list so I can find one for myself ?

If not...can you tell me how you obtained it...did you contact Briess or Scott Labs Canada directly ?

Thanks !

Ivan said...

Hi NomisQC,
I assume you're from Quebec... good news for you!

You'll find that several of Scott's customers are based in Quebec. Try calling your local Mosti Mondiale or Vinotheque to see if they'll order a bucket from Scott for you. They only sell 5 Gallon pails so plan to make a lot of beer! Store it in a cool location after you open it.

Riddei said... has an excellent gluten free brewing board. I make sorghum beer for my wife, and they have all come out tasty. :mug: