Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Free the Glutens!

Image from Papazian's article
Glutens are nasty little creatures which hide in wheat (and wheat related) grains and attack an unsuspecting tribe of people know as the Celiacs. The Glutens perform bio-attacks on the Celiacs causing auto-immune reactions which are very unpleasant. Glutens are evil!

Actually, personally, I have nothing against glutens. I probably can't even begin to list the things that I enjoy eating and drinking that have lots of gluten in them. I doubt there is a day that goes by in which I don't consume multiple glutens. They are yummy. I'm glad I don't have to avoid foods that contain gluten.

One of my favorite sources of gluten is beer. Barley is full of gluten. So is wheat and rye. There are gluten-free beers out there, but they are sort of hard to find. I am told they don't really taste all that good either.

I don't know if you caught this in my post 2011 #GABF Final? Thoughts, but I know someone whose body doesn't handle gluten all that well. Last time my wife and I saw her, we brought her and her husband beer as a thank-you for taking care of our kids for the GABF weekend. She drank one of the beers while we were there, so apparently it is not as bad as lots of Celiacs, but still, I feel bad for her. She did ask if I had ever made a gluten free beer. The answer was "no".

I decided to do a bit of research, though to see what I could do. I re-listened to the May 5, 2011 episode of Basic Brewing Radio - Gluten Free Brewing . I read the attached pdf: Desiree's Gluten Free Recipes. I re-read Charlie Papazian's article on, "Gluten free beer? Reduced gluten beer offers real beer taste for Celiac impaired". And I asked at my Local Home-brew shops to see what ingredients were immediately available. Then, this past weekend, I brewed a little (Mr. Beer-sized) batch of "Free the Glutens! APA". It does turn out that my options for gluten-free beer ingredients is extremely limited at the Local Home-Brew Shops. The grain bill of the recipe consists of Brown Rice Syrup and some light caramel malted oats. I used some Centennial hops and some harvested yeast. I brewed it up on our stove top and it is now sitting in the fermenter.

I have no idea how this is going to turn out. We are taking their boys in a few weeks and I guess we will find out then how well my gluten-free beer turned out. Based on how she likes it, I may brew some more in the future.

Lots of Glutens trapped in this beer.
Another option that the guy at the Brew Hut told me about is White Labs' "Clarity-Ferm". Clarity Ferm's purpose is to act as a beer clarifying agent. Apparently one of its side-effects is that it breaks down the gluten protein in your beer. If my Celiac friend doesn't like my first attempt, perhaps I should try brewing up something she likes and use the Clarity Ferm product. It is worth a try.

I'll let you know how it turns out.


EDIT: One of my virtual friends mentioned a couple things I knew but should have pointed out.

First, to be truly gluten-free, you need to make sure your oats are certified gluten-free (mine were not). You should also not crush those (or any of the grains you use) in the same grain mill you use to crush other malts (I used a roller pin).

Second, my recipe uses harvested yeast from another batch. This is a big no-no for gluten - free beer. If you use liquid yeast, you want to make sure it is certified gluten - free. Based on what I've read, dry yeast should be fine.

Finally, I will mention that if you are a seriously sensitive Celiac or brewing for a one, make sure you do more research than just this blog and my recipe. As I said, I have never really had to worry about those nasty little glutens and the person who inspired me to try this is not even sensitive enough to have completely given up regular gluten-full beers.

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