Posts Tagged ‘yeast’

GF beer: visit to the homebrew store

May 8, 2009

Now begins my quest to brew delicious gluten-free beer for TGW. I live around Boston, MA, around which I will be searching for adequate ingredients. See the “Gluten-free brewing” section of this post, specifically the paragraph about malt extract brewing, to get an idea of what I need.

My first real stop was to the Modern Homebrew Emporium in North Cambridge (near Davis Square), and I obtained two definitely useful pieces of information.

The first was which yeasts were gluten-free. (It turns out that in the yeast-growing labs that supply us, some processes use gluten-containing grain.) Some of the dry yeast packets are flat-out gluten-free. Among the two liquid yeast vial makers, White Labs makes very-low-gluten products. They told me 12ppm in each vial, which dilutes to around 2ppm in the beer; is this a tolerable gluten level? On the other hand, most Wyeast products are gluteny; they told me the vials probably contain 119ppm. However, after emailing with them, I noticed that their catalog does list some products specifically as gluten-free, so they might be of some use after all.

The other was on what grains they carry. The great news is that they have tapioca malt extract. Since at this point my capabilities are limited to extract brewing, and not mashing, this means I can even begin gluten-free brewing in the first place. Although they themselves do not carry any other gluten-free sugar sources, once I have the tapioca extract I can begin looking for these other grains anywhere, such as at a grocery store or a website. And so it is that my quest continues searching thusly for secondary grain sources…

(By the way, the people at the homebrew store seem rather convinced of the idea that oats are gluten-free. They are so convinced that they will soon be carrying malted oats, and furthermore installing an oats-only grain mill, with the idea that separating the oats from the barley/etc. will keep the results uncontaminated. From what I’ve read, the gluten-freeness of oats is quite debated, and until TGW and I have had time to talk to more professionals about it we’re staying away. But if you’re looking for simply a barley alternative, and being careful about gluten isn’t your issue, you might want to check out their new offering.)

And now for something completely different, but still on the topic of beer: TGW found this link today, describing a couple of gluten-free commercial beers. Apparently, they are based off the West African traditional beers called Shakparo and Mbege, which are primarily made from millet and sorghum. (The latter also includes some banana. I often forget that bananas are much starchier than your average fruit.) I would love to get my hands on these, as well as the original African concoctions, or at least hear reports from anyone else who has tried them! Generally, I welcome more suggestions types of beer from non-European cultures, because it’s good to have some age-tested experience on my side, now that I’m out of my barley-based comfort zone.

On second thought, tasting these will only be so useful to me so long as I am confined to extract brewing. Perhaps tapioca-based styles will be useful, but non-tapioca-based styles will not help too much if I can’t make a mash to draw upon them faithfully. Am I wrong on this point?

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