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-   -   Gluten-low brewing (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f164/gluten-low-brewing-310502/)

mccann51 03-05-2012 09:51 PM

Gluten-low brewing
Hi, all. I'm interested in brewing gluten-low beer, and wanted to throw some ideas out to get feedback. I have a gluten-intolerance, so not Celiac's, and I'm finally getting serious about cutting it out completely to see if I can get some realised health benefits.

Before I get into the questions about brewing, I wanted to ask generally about gluten in beer. About a year ago, I completely cut gluten out for about 4 months. During that period, something as little as soy sauce with wheat would upset my stomach, but I still had no issue with beer. This led me to the conclusion that the malting (modified grains) and/or mashing (protein rest) plus clarification meant no gluten. Reading on here, I'm led to think otherwise. Could somebody help me understand this?

In regards to brewing, even though beer has not caused a noticeable issue, I still would like to start brewing beers with as little gluten as possible. My two thoughts are that a protein rest during mashing and using low-gluten grains would work towards this. So, firstly, does a protein rest significantly lower gluten levels, and if so, is this going to seriously thin out the beer? And, what grains are low-gluten? I know oats are gluten-free except for potential cross-contamination - and I plan to try out oat malt in the near future - but I've read that rye is also lower in gluten than wheat or barley. I haven't found a source I trust saying this about rye, though, just random websites.

Thanks for any info!

KellyK 03-05-2012 10:29 PM

It's not a true "gluten low / free" beer in the sense that it's brewed just like a regular beer but there is a ton of evidence that adding brewers' clarex manufactured by White Labs bursts the gluten protein and renders it unrecognizable to the systems of all except people with severe gluten intolerance - ie true Celiac disease.

I have a friend who is a borderline Celiac. She played the guinea pig for two brews where we added clarex, a saison and a kolsch. She drank at least 3 bottles of each beer in two different sittings and saw no effect. Typically if she drinks 1 regular beer (even our "normal" homebrew) she has a terrible stomach ache within an hour or two and things go downhill from there.

Because of FDA issues White Labs isn't allowed to market it as a gluten buster - but Charlie P did an excellent article on its use in a Zymurgy article a year or two ago and got good results. Clarex is commercially available to homebrewers now (it wasn't when Charlie wrote his article) so maybe give it a try.

To answer your question, I think the only true gluten free brewing involves rice and sorghum. Rye has less gluten, but it does still have some - plus I think a 100% rye beer would stick the hell out of your system. The normal mashing / brewing process does not remove the gluten. You must have been lucky with no ill effects from your gluten containing brews - though everyone's body reacts differently.

Flatspin 03-05-2012 11:58 PM

+1 to the brewer's clarex. You can actually find a decent amount of information on this site if you search for 'clarity ferm', which is the name the product is marketed under.

Not that I need to tell anyone in this section of the forum, but there are a wide variety of sensitivities and reactions to gluten and gluten-type compounds. Many here have Celiac, while I have become familiar with GF because my wife has a more traditional allergy where she will get rashes and other issues after consuming any gluten.

There is a lot of discussion around this stuff, but really it boils down to this: Can you risk a gluten-reduced (ie. not necessarily gluten free) product. If you can, give it a shot. Your beers will be about $2.75 per 5 gallons more expensive, but it really opens up your options.

mccann51 03-06-2012 04:43 PM

I've read about Clarex, but being that I don't typically use clarifiers, I wanted to try some other options before going that route.

So are my protein rest and low-gluten grain ideas not sound, then? Again, I'm not trying to brew a gluten-free beer, just want to try out techniques to lower the gluten content. If I notice ill-effects, I will definitely try out Clarex.

Flatspin 03-07-2012 12:07 AM

I've heard that the lighter beers test lower in gluten (no personal experience here to verify, though), so if you are going to brew a low gluten beer as an experiment, I'd suggest trying a lighter beer. Also, if you do have a reaction, you don't want to have to pour out 4.9 gallons of beer, so unless you have someone else to drink it I would suggest brewing a smaller batch. For experiments, I've begun making a few batches in one gallon size. That will make about 6-8 beers depending on amount of trub, so it is a good low-risk experiment.

Not to assume you'd be interested in trying the one gallon thing, but what I have done in the past for one gallon IPAs (extract with specialty grains) is buy some distilled water and Burton brewing salts. Boiling one gallon of water will leave about the right amount of headspace in the water jug. You can drill a hole in the cap and put a cheap aquarium tube hose in as a blowoff tube, just twist a few rubber bands around each side of the cap and it will work just fine.

mccann51 06-14-2012 01:27 AM

Found an interesting article arguing for the normally low gluten content of beer. Doesn't really address the specific questions I put forth in the OP, but figured I'd post it up here nonetheless. Unfortunately the article doesn't address the actual question of the gluten content in most beers, but is just hypothetical reasons when beer should be low in gluten. Either way, still interesting to read the justifications.

Flatspin, I usually do 2.5 gal batches, and luckily have plenty of thirsty friends, so I probably won't do 1 gal batches (though I did do one recently for a fairly experimental batch I wanted to try). Thanks for the advice, though.

Still haven't had a chance to try Clarex/Clarity-Ferm, but next time I get to the LBHS, I'll see about picking some up. I've been brewing a lot of rye beers, and it can be a bit of a hassle to deal with, so a shortcut now and then would be nice.

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