My wife has coeliac disease. The Bosk gluten-free beer kit disappeared from the market just after I got interested in making her some but before I bought the gear.
So I started doing wine instead. I also made ersatz beer from Duncan Incapable's recipes, and they're very good, but, not, you know, really beer.
You can't google round the subject of gluten-free beer for long without discovering that in Africa beer has been made from millet for millennia.
Takes a bit more effort to find actual recipes. And what's it going to taste like anyway? It's not barley. The Africans don't use hops.
We were in our favourite Asian C&C stocking up on chili flavoured snackfood when I spotted a bag of millet...
From various online recipes for normal beer I guestimated 2oz of millet to make a pint, which seemed good as a feasibility study.
First of course I had to malt it: didn't even know if it would, which is partly why I started with such a small amount. Standard sprouting procedure beloved of healthfood nuts. I let it go for a couple of days. I've since learned I shouild have let it have 4.5 for maximum starch conversion.
I dried it gently in a very low oven and then gave half of it a very gentle roast - too gentle, I now believe.
I then ground it in a pestle&mortar, not too finely. From what I've since read about cracking I suspect I ground it too fine. On the other hand, some academic papers I've seen use millet flour in their experiments, so maybe it was OK. Scope for a lot of further experiment there.
To give it the best chance I tried to do the full stepped infusion mash with rests for beta-glucanase, protease, beta- and alpha-amylase.
But in the small pan I was using, on a standard hob, accurate temperature control was near impossible.
The temperatures for the rests may not be the same for millet and barley anyway - more diving into the academic papers required here.
I chucked in a bit of shop-bought amylase as well, just in case.
I strained it, didn't bother sparging, added some isomerised hop extract, and gave it a boil for an hour.
It needed some extra water to leave me with the desired pint at the end of this.
I also added some sugar as the OG was only [email protected]
, to get it to 1037
I split it between a couple of small PETS and pitched a little bit of Munton's Gold.
I let it ferment (room temp, 22ish daytime) 9 days, though it was nicely cleared after 8. Had to release some gas fairly frequently and when doing this sometimes gave it a bit of agitation as I suspected the stuff on the bottom was fermentable solids rather than just trub.
When it came to bottling, I couldn't get it all out without stirring up the trub (tried using a turkey baster to pipette it out) so I only ended up with 330ml in the end.
Fitted nicely into an old ginger beer bottle, anyway. Added a little priming sugar.
The sneak taste at this point: very thin, lacking in flavour, but definitely beer-like.
One week in the bottle turned it into a rather pleasant drink, despite the rough&ready method and various mistakes I've glossed over a bit here.
It is just a little thin, and a little lacking in flavour, but definitely beer-like.
In fact, definitely beer. Not entirely unlike the blander continental lagers, but with a slightly creamy finish.
My wife was quite enthusiastic about the idea of further experiments.