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Quinoa is a native South American plant grown for its seeds and leaves. Unlike true grains, quinoa is not a cereal plant; however, its seeds are used in a grain-like manner by native South American cultures.

Quinoa was not traditionally used in brewing, other than as an added ingredient in some forms of chicha. However, because it contains no gluten, quinoa is now being considered as an alternative to wheat and barley in brewing gluten-free beer.

Quinoa in the wild has an extremely bitter flavor due to a protective coating covering the seeds. Most processed quinoa available in stores has been processed to remove this unpalatable and potentially toxic coating; for this reason, home cultivation of quinoa is not common.

Quinoa's complete balanced proteins also make it well-regarded within the vegetarian community.