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Old 01-01-2013, 05:25 PM   #1
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Default Newbie with a thirst for pale ale on limited resources

Hi!

This is my first post in this forum, and even though I've read up on heaps of great information here, I apologise if I'm asking questions to which the answers are already easily available in one of the threads below.

I've just been brewing a few months, but have learned a lot along the way. I've no problem with gluten myself, but my sister has celiac disease and I would really like for her to be able to drink some of my beers. (Especially since the commercial alternatives are few, expensive and quite nasty.)

The problem is that I've not been able to find much of any of the ingredients that appear to be used most by GF home brewers. I'm Swedish, and the extracts (sorghum and rice) seem unheard of here. I've managed to find small jars of rice syrup in health shops, that might work as a (quite expensive, but still) base for a small test batch, but since ingredients seem so hard to get hold of here I'd like to ask you with more experience for some advice before plunging head first into a sticky mess of rice goo.

I've also read quite a bit of the thread here about malting gluten free grains and find the idea interesting, but would prefer to begin in the easier end of the quite tricky GF beer spectrum.

So - what I can get hold of is rice syrup and grains of all sorts. What I like brewing best is a clean American pale ale/American India pale ale with plenty of hops. Now, since this isn't a very malt driven style, I'm guessing it wouldn't be all that difficult, but I wouldn't want to just ferment sugar water boiled with hops either.

To my first questions, then:

1. Could rice syrup do the trick for me? Should/could I combine it with some other kind of sugar, like molasses, candy sugar, inverted sugar...?

2. What grains should I use for steeping in order to add a bit more character to the quite clean finish that the syrups will give me? Would they need malting at all when they're not my primary source of fermentable sugars? Should they be soaked, roasted, gelatinised...?

3. Should I use my ordinary US-05 for this, or will the result be so thin that it would benefit from a yeast strain with more esters? Should I even aim for a Belgian triple yeast and still hop the heck out of it, to make up for my meagre malt substitutes?

Thanks a lot in advance!

And I'm sure the answers are already somewhere in this forum, so feel free to just point me in that direction if you like.

Happy new year!

/kalle.

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Old 01-01-2013, 07:36 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum, Kalle!

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Originally Posted by Foodhead View Post
Hi!
1. Could rice syrup do the trick for me? Should/could I combine it with some other kind of sugar, like molasses, candy sugar, inverted sugar...?
Yep! Rice syrup is just fine. You can also add a bit of amber candi syrup and some raw honey (preferably buckwheat, or any dark full-flavored variety...not chestnut honey, though, that's bad business). Stay away from molasses unless it's light, blackstrap gives a very metallic minerally taste, even in low doses. Brown sugar is okay, turbinado or jaggery are better. Just don't over-do it with the sugars, keep the rice syrup the main fermentable. Maltodextrin is also a must; it helps with body and head retention. I usually use about 2 oz per gallon of wort, but you could maybe even go higher without problems.

Quote:
2. What grains should I use for steeping in order to add a bit more character to the quite clean finish that the syrups will give me? Would they need malting at all when they're not my primary source of fermentable sugars? Should they be soaked, roasted, gelatinised...?
You can steep unmalted GF grains if you want to impart some grainy toastiness, but there is a limit to what you can achieve in this way. Grains should generally be soaked, rinsed, drained, and toasted, even if it's just lightly. If you can come by gluten-free oats, they can do a very nice job of adding some grainy flavor and mouthfeel. Steep them like you would any other specialty grain, do NOT boil them! You don't want to gelatinize them, you want to keep the starch out of your beer (unless you want it hazy and, well, starchy-tasting). If you can't come by oats, then millet, buckwheat, quinoa, and the more exotic rices (like black or red rice) are all viable. Pecans, hazelnuts, or walnuts, provided they are coarsely crushed, roasted, and pressed (to drain their head-killing oils) also seem to be good additions, at the rate of around 1.5 to 2 oz per gallon of wort.

Quote:
3. Should I use my ordinary US-05 for this, or will the result be so thin that it would benefit from a yeast strain with more esters? Should I even aim for a Belgian triple yeast and still hop the heck out of it, to make up for my meagre malt substitutes?
US-05 isn't bad, I use it in some of my IPAs, but S-04 or S-33 generally seem to give better results. I've had mixed results with T-58...it seems to get very phenolic when stressed, and has given me two dumpers and one excellent beer. I'm about to try a wit using WB-06, really curious about that. For now I'd recommend sticking with S-04, it's reliable.
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Old 01-02-2013, 01:48 AM   #3
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Welcome to the board. Fortunately, there are no experts here so you don't get a lot of yelling about repeating posts. Igliashon will never point you wrong. Keeping it simple does seen to be the key for me in the GF brewing process. I think that the rice syrup with some toasted oats, buckwheat honey, maltodextrin and plenty of hops should get you a pretty darn good beer. Stick to old reliable, S04, too.

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Old 01-02-2013, 12:14 PM   #4
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Thank you!

I'll go with oats and perhaps some buckwheat this first time, as I already have some in my kitchen cupboard. So, should oat flakes be soaked before roasting as well? I'm asking since they'd be pretty...well, soaked. :P

As for the buckwheat honey, it might be hard to find and/or ridiculously expensive, but I'll try. Otherwise, I might just try some other kind of unfiltered honey.

The sugars you mention aren't anything I've heard of before, and I'm guessing they'd go by other names here if they're even available. But I figure raw and unrefined is the way to go, regardless of what I'll be able to find out there.

And the yeast... I haven't actually used S-04 before, as I'm more into American ale than British. Is the reason you prefer that Yeats that it seems to go better with the gluten free ingredients, or that you prefer the yeast's character in general?

As for hops, I've got a huge load of Nelson in the freezer just waiting to be used. I've made single hopped pale ales with it before that have turned out just lovely, and would be delighted if I'd manage something similar glutton free.

Thanks again!

/kalle.

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Old 01-02-2013, 12:15 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foodhead
Thank you!

I'll go with oats and perhaps some buckwheat this first time, as I already have some in my kitchen cupboard. So, should oat flakes be soaked before roasting as well? I'm asking since they'd be pretty...well, soaked. :P

As for the buckwheat honey, it might be hard to find and/or ridiculously expensive, but I'll try. Otherwise, I might just try some other kind of unfiltered honey.

The sugars you mention aren't anything I've heard of before, and I'm guessing they'd go by other names here if they're even available. But I figure raw and unrefined is the way to go, regardless of what I'll be able to find out there.

And the yeast... I haven't actually used S-04 before, as I'm more into American ale than British. Is the reason you prefer that Yeats that it seems to go better with the gluten free ingredients, or that you prefer the yeast's character in general?

As for hops, I've got a huge load of Nelson in the freezer just waiting to be used. I've made single hopped pale ales with it before that have turned out just lovely, and would be delighted if I'd manage something similar glutton free.

Thanks again!

/kalle.
"Yeast" and "gluten", even.
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Old 01-02-2013, 04:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foodhead View Post
Thank you!
I'll go with oats and perhaps some buckwheat this first time, as I already have some in my kitchen cupboard. So, should oat flakes be soaked before roasting as well? I'm asking since they'd be pretty...well, soaked. :P
Yes, they should. In just enough water for them to absorb it all. It makes a difference, trust me.

Quote:
As for the buckwheat honey, it might be hard to find and/or ridiculously expensive, but I'll try. Otherwise, I might just try some other kind of unfiltered honey.
What honey varieties are plentiful in your area?

Quote:
The sugars you mention aren't anything I've heard of before, and I'm guessing they'd go by other names here if they're even available. But I figure raw and unrefined is the way to go, regardless of what I'll be able to find out there.
Jaggery is an Indian variety, it's hard to find unless you live somewhere with a decent-sized Indian population. You might be able to find palm sugar at a health food store (also known as coconut sugar). Date sugar is another good one...but these sorts of sugars should only be used in strict moderation.

Quote:
And the yeast... I haven't actually used S-04 before, as I'm more into American ale than British. Is the reason you prefer that Yeats that it seems to go better with the gluten free ingredients, or that you prefer the yeast's character in general?
S-04 really isn't super-British. I haven't done any side-by-side comparisons based on the same wort, but I think the S-04 and the S-33 both help give a depth to the beer that the US-05 doesn't. I've done a very hoppy pale with S-04 and rice syrup and it was very good, not very British at all.

Quote:
As for hops, I've got a huge load of Nelson in the freezer just waiting to be used. I've made single hopped pale ales with it before that have turned out just lovely, and would be delighted if I'd manage something similar glutton free.
I think you will be satisfied. Mind you, the end results might not be comparable to a barley-based beer, but they will be miles away from anything you can get at the store.
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:28 PM   #7
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Thanks again!

I'll soak the oats, then.

As for honey, I'm not really sure what's to find. There's acacia honey in all the grocery stores, and often some kind of wildflower honey. The "usual" honey here is actually distributed by the Swedish beekeeper organisation, so I'd guess that's pretty unprocessed as well. There are of course cheaper generic kinds as well, which ill steer clear of, and probably more exclusive kinds in the health food stores. I'll se what I can find there, as ill be raiding them for rice syrup anyway.

I'll also check out Indian and Caribbean food stores for other kinds of sugar, to see what's available. But I'll probably keep it easy to begin with, as you both suggest.

By the way, agave syrup has become quite usual in the grocery stores as of lately. Would that be of any use?

And I'll get some S-04. I see what you mean.

Thanks again!

/kalle.

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Old 01-16-2013, 11:27 AM   #8
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Hi again!

I've gotten a wee bit further in planning and reading up on GF brewing since last time, and have finally managed to order a few litres of dark rice extract from Pakistan, of all places.

While waiting for that to arrive, I've a few thoughts I'd like to sort out, about malting vs enzymes.

What are the differences in the resulting wort from malted grains vs unmalted with added enzymes? I mean, the malting would probably AT&T something to the taste as well, besides making conversion easier, right?

Reading your latest (and quite brilliant) blog entry, Igliashon, I notice you use sprouted quinoa. Sprouted and then dried, to make crushing easier? What are the benefits from sprouting?

Also, what makes promalt special? The only enzymes I seem to be able to order in Sweden are Brewferm's Alfa-Beta. That should do the trick, right?

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Old 01-16-2013, 06:10 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foodhead View Post
Hi again!
What are the differences in the resulting wort from malted grains vs unmalted with added enzymes? I mean, the malting would probably AT&T something to the taste as well, besides making conversion easier, right?
I don't think anyone knows for sure about that. I mean, malting is a complex process, phytochemically-speaking, and it is probably difficult to replicate the effect with exogenous enzymes. However, a proper mash with a proper enzyme formula should produce the full complement of proteins and carbohydrates that a malt mash will produce, so it's hard to even make an educated guess about what you'd get out of malting that you couldn't get with enzymes.

However, with malted grains you can make crystal malt; that is much more difficult to do with unmalted grains. I've been doing some experiments with flaked rice and enzymes, but the best I've been able to do is get some caramel-flavored cookies. If you want to brew with crystal malt--which is probably the best hope of getting good malt flavor in a GF brew--then learning to malt your own grain is probably necessary.

Quote:
Reading your latest (and quite brilliant) blog entry, Igliashon, I notice you use sprouted quinoa. Sprouted and then dried, to make crushing easier? What are the benefits from sprouting?
I buy it pre-sprouted from Whole Foods (a health food grocery chain), as I find that the sprouted quinoa has a different flavor and aroma to unsprouted. The sprouted stuff smells and tastes sweet and earthy, while the unsprouted stuff is kind of sour and a little bitter (and also very earthy).

Quote:
Also, what makes promalt special? The only enzymes I seem to be able to order in Sweden are Brewferm's Alfa-Beta. That should do the trick, right?
Promalt is not available on the homebrew market, but I've been wondering if we might be able to get a homebrew store to carry it. It's special because it contains more than just alpha and beta amylase; it also contains proteases and beta-glucanases, which are absolutely essential to brew with unmalted oats and flaked grains. Without the glucanases and proteases, you get a thick, gummy wort that tends to stress the yeast and ferment poorly, and very low efficiency (around 40%, vs 75%+ with the Promalt). I tried using just alpha and beta amylase a few times, and it was a disaster. I wasted lots of time and lots of grain. While you can definitely get some conversion on grains like rice and corn with just amylase (provided you crush finely, do a long cereal mash to thoroughly gelatinize the starch, and do a very thin mash that you stir frequently), you don't get a lot of flavor or body that way--it's not really worth the trouble.
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Old 02-21-2013, 11:14 PM   #10
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Hi again!

It's finally time to come up with a recipe. I managed to order some brown rice extract from a factory in Pakistan (!), which took months to get here, but now it's finally standing here right inside my front door.

I also noticed that one of the two Swedish online home brew stores have decided to keep Briess' Sorghum syrup in stock! Now, I've been fiddling about a bit with recipes in Beersmith, but since the gluten free arena is new to me, I'd like to try it out on you guys before actually brewing it.

(Keep in mind that this is a rough conversion from metrics.)

So, for a 2.5 gallon batch of American pale ale:

Extract:

3,3 lbs of brown rice extract
3.5 oz of roasted oats (flaked, soaked, roasted to amber brown, to be steeped)
1 lbs of sorghum extract (10 minutes from flameout)
3.5 oz of maltodextrin (5 minutes from flameout)

Hops, Nelson Sauvin, whole cones, 11.5 %:
0.25 oz @ 60 min
0.28 oz @ 10 min
0.35 oz @ 5 min
0.53 oz @ 0 min (steep for 10 min)
0.35 oz for dry hopping

Yeast: Safale S-05

Does this look feasible to you?

Cheers,

/kalle.

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