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Old 07-22-2012, 12:49 AM   #1
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Default Extra Special Grains

There's been a lot of hype about different grains this summer in the food world. I'm wondering if anyone's ever brewed with any of the following, and what kind of flavors these grains might impart. If not, looks like home brewers might have a new field to experiment with!

Bulgur Wheat - A high protein, high fiber grain made from parboiled, cracked wheat.
Farro (Emmer/Spelt) - A dried, nutty grain from some specialty wheats.
Millet - A starchy, high fiber staple grain produced mainly in India and Africa.
Sorghum - A grassy grain produced in Africa, Asia, and South and Central America.
Quinoa - A nutty, grain-like crop that is dried and processed for human consumption.
Amaranth - A nutrient rich grain indigenous to Mexico and Central America.

Additionally I wonder if it is possible to use nuts and legumes as larger components in a beer.

Anyone who has tried any of these?

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Old 07-22-2012, 01:20 AM   #2
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I know Sorghum is very common in brewing, I believe it is for gluten free beers.

Never heard of the other grains! Try em and let us know

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Old 07-22-2012, 02:09 AM   #3
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I've never brewed with any "alternative" grains (other than wheat, rye or oats), but I had a gluten free beer for the first time a few weeks ago (DFH's Tweason'ale)...I believe they use sorghum as the primary grain...it had, let's just say, an "unusual" flavor. I wasn't sure about it at first, but it kind of grew on me, and as it turns out, was kind of light, refreshing beer -- nice as a summer ale. Based on this one example, there's no way you would mistake a sorghum beer for one made with barley... I've seen a few other commercial gluten free beers on the shelves, but have never been inspired enough to pick them up to try...

There's a section in Randy Mosher's Radical Brewing on different brewing grains, but I'm not sure of any other book resources...you might want to check out the Gluten-Free Brewing forum...

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Old 07-22-2012, 01:16 PM   #4
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Randy Mosher has a lot about "alternative" grains in radical brewing. The only unusual grain I've used is triticale. I treated it like unmalted rye in a few beers.

You can get info on the protein and starch contents of various grains pretty easily - search for "nutrition facts" of whatever you're interested in. A protein rest is usually recommended for large proportions of high protein (>12%)

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Old 07-22-2012, 05:06 PM   #5
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I remember reading a thread where someone on here brewed with quinoa, but the results weren't fantastic.

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Old 07-22-2012, 07:03 PM   #6
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These are just more potential adjuncts, IMHO.

Millet beer has been brewed in Africa for a very long time. Google "fission yeast" for interesting details.

As others have said, many of these are used in gluten-free brewing.

You forgot buckwheat. Also IMHO some of the more flavorful rice varieties. I find that brown basmati works pretty well in a brown ale, and others have said that it works well in an american pilsner. It adds a nutty flavor and a popcorn-alike aroma. Black rice can be malted - haven't tried it yet. There is a whole world of rice apart from the white & flavorless varieties of varying lengths that most people are used to.

The problem with legumes and nuts in brewing is that they don't have much carbohydrate content in them. Nuts are also pretty fatty. They can add flavor and body but not much in the way of fermentables.

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Old 07-22-2012, 07:46 PM   #7
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I made a sorghum beer called "kaffir" (I think in some countries kaffir is a derogatory term, but nonetheless...) I malted the sorghum and used these ingredients:

1.5K sorghum malt
450 g pale malt
250 g millet
425 g malawi raw sugar
100ml Bio K lactobacillus
2g wild dagga leaf

Crush the millet, boil til soft, drain,
add to crushed sorghum and pale malt
mash 12hr in 4L water at 68C
sparge with 75C water to make 8L
add raw sugar
boil 1 hr with dagga leaf
cool to 26C innoculate with lacto, hold 24 hr at that temp,
pitch ale yeast, ferment two days, refrigerate

17.5 Plato so it is probably stronger than what you might find in a convenience store in Swaziland. Dagga is bitter and somewhat citrus, a bit like gesho. It can be purchased off the internet. It is definitly inebriating. Lactobacillus culture is from the local health food store.

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