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Old 06-19-2012, 12:05 AM   #1
May 2012
Charlottesville, Virginia
Posts: 1

I've been following the gluten-free homebrewing forum for some time and thought that I'd take the plunge and attempt some recipes with self-malted GF grains. I have no experience with malting and limited all-grain brewing experience so pardon my ignorance. I started with 1 lb each of hulled buckwheat and millet and I experienced different problems with each. Any suggestions or thoughts on where I might have gone wrong?

I soaked / rinsed the grains for about 36 hour until the sprouts were about twice as long as the groats themselves. I then dried them in the oven set to warm (~160 deg). After crushing them (with a rolling pin), I mashed them at different constant temperature intervals of 120, 140, and 155 deg. I then attempted to sparge the grains in a mesh strainer with 170 deg water but the buckwheat had turned into a thick, gelatinous, oatmeal-like blob. The sparge water couldn't penetrate the grains so I just vigorously mixed the water and the grains and then filtered (a rudimentary batch sparging). The resulting wort (if I can call it that) was a white, milky, starchy liquid. I'm assuming that this is not normal. Any idea where I went wrong? Would rice hulls help with the sticky mash?

After nearly 4 days of soaking/rinsing, only 20% or so of the grains showed any sign of sprouting. Fearing mold, I dried them out in the oven. The mash went well but I was not expecting much in terms of fermentables given the poor malting. Anyone have success malting millet? I rather like the smell of the dried/toasted millet and would like to add malted millet to a sorghum extract-based recipe.

Any help is much appreciated! Thanks!
"Beer , if drank with moderation, softens the tempter, cheers the spirit, and promotes good health. Thomas Jefferson

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Old 06-19-2012, 04:50 AM   #2
Feb 2012
Oakland, CA
Posts: 936
Liked 75 Times on 45 Posts

I've had similarly poor results using unmalted grains with enzyme formula. Rice hulls do help, though; ironically, techniques for all-wheat brewing apply quite well for gluten-free brewing, since wheat lacks hulls as well (though it's generally easier to malt, and can convert itself more readily).

I honestly don't know what the trick is to all-grain gluten-free brewing, and I've yet to hear of any real success stories. I wonder if anyone at Green's would volunteer some information? They are the only gluten-free brewing company I know of, other than Bard's, that brews from grain rather than extract, and they use a lot of different grains and get great results.

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Old 06-19-2012, 01:48 PM   #3
Oct 2011
Posts: 19
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O'Briens in Australia brews with grain (as far as I know). I've never had any of their beers here in the US but the brewer, Andrew Lavery, posted two excellent guides quite a few years ago. I believe I actually got the link from one of the threads in this forum but it doesn't seem to get much discussion. One details malting and the other brewing. He does it 100% with the enzymes in the grain, which requires a full decoction mash (or is it a decantation mash, since the liquid is removed and not the grain?). He highlights the importance of not only the saccharification rest for fermentables but also the protein and beta-glucan rests to develop the proper body, foam stability and mouthfeel. The beta-glucan rest at 100F is supposed to be very important for reducing gumminess in the mash.

He has lots of pictures in both documents, and according to him his brews have done well in contests. The reviews of O'Briens beers on the usual review sites are not very kind, but that is to be expected; Green's gets similarly bad reviews. I posted the two guides under techniques on the wiki you set up so that people don't have to sign up for the Australian brewing forum he posted them to originally.

I emphasize that I have not yet done any of this myself, not having the room or resources to try malting. I bought some millet from CMC when they started selling to homebrewers but as I don't quite have a milling setup yet I haven't had the chance to try this method with their grains. From Andrew's documents, though, the tricks to GF all-grain would be:

1) careful malting conditions to prevent mold and bad bacteria growth and to try to maximize enzyme activity
2) controlling water chemistry (pH and salts) to allow proper enzyme activity. He acidifies the water for both mashing and sparging; I'm guessing that's because the mash doesn't reduce the pH as much as a barley mash would.
3) beta-glucan rest to reduce gumminess to allow proper sparging.
4) protein rest to create the right mix of proteins for head retention, body and yeast health. I think without the protein rest you end up with lots of heavier proteins that settle out and create tons of goop in your fermenter.
5) removing the liquid (with suspended enzymes) to preserve enzymes, and adding it back once the remaining grains have been boiled to fully gelatinize and then cooled. Mixing in the cooled enzyme liquid drops the mash to normal saccharification temperatures.
6) lautering/sparging with rice hulls after transferring the mash to a sparge tank. You probably want to mash in a kettle to make the temperature adjustments easier.

Andrew also explains how to make different kinds of malt (Vienna, Munich, chocolate) as well as a pseudo crystal malt with millet. That might be possible with the pale malted grains from CMC.

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Old 06-19-2012, 05:49 PM   #4
Aug 2008
Posts: 1,410
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Originally Posted by HomeBrewHoo View Post
The resulting wort (if I can call it that) was a white, milky, starchy liquid. I'm assuming that this is not normal. Any idea where I went wrong? Would rice hulls help with the sticky mash?
Every attempt I've made has gone into the fermenter as a white, milky liquid. It has always settled.

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