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Gluten impacts a lot of people, myself included. My food allergies got so bad a few years ago that I actually visited a food allergist and was diagnosed with “leaky gut syndrome.” Sounds gross, right!? Not gonna lie, it kind of is. When I eat things they literally leak out of my gut into my bloodstream before being digested. When my immune system see this it launches a full scale attack. Symptoms include fatigue, headaches, inflammation, rashes, etc.
Some things bother me more than others and gluten is one of them. I'm not alone either. A lot of people have issues with gluten. According to the Cleveland Clinic, about 6% of the US population is gluten intolerant, meaning that they have a sensitivity to gluten. And about 1% of the US population has Celiac disease, which means that they experience a severe reaction to gluten caused by an auto-immune response.
The doctor I saw wanted to put me on a 4 day rotating food diet to avoid the foods i was most allergic to. That meant that if I ate pizza on Monday, I wouldn’t be able to eat it again until Friday! The same went for beer. Instead of giving up the things I love most in life, I went searching for alternatives. Because I’m an avid home brewer and have the luxury of making beer at home that suits my own personal tastes and needs, my first priority was finding a top notch gluten free beer recipe.
After conducting some research, what I discovered is that people with gluten sensitivities or gluten intolerance actually have a lot of options, especially if they’re willing to make their own beer. As I see it, the two best options for making gluten-free beer are to:
- Brew a traditional beer and use an additive that breaks down the gluten to create something that is nearly "gluten-free" beer but still may a tiny bit of gluten, so must be labeled "gluten reduced" beer.
- Brew beer using 100% gluten-free using alternative malts like millet, rice, and buckwheat to create a zero tolerance gluten-free beer.
What is Gluten-Free Beer?
Before we get to the actual gluten-free beer recipes, it’s worth noting that the different methods of producing gluten-free beer describe above result in different outcomes. Although it's a bit confusing, the products produced by these methods are,
It is possible to brew beer just like normal and (mostly) eliminate the gluten. The gluten reduction process is achieved using enzymes that break it down to less than 20ppm and products made using this method can the U.S. FDA historically defined "gluten-free" as food or beverages that contain less than 20 ppm gluten. However, after several studies indicated that individuals with severe gluten allergies were actually reacting to these low levels of gluten, the FDA changed it's ruling. Updated rulings require "gluten-removed" beverages to be labled "gluten reduced."
Some sources claim that people with mild gluten sensitivities can tolerate foods with very small amounts of gluten. If you're one of these people, our easy "gluten-reduced" beer recipe is just what you're looking for. However you're wary of this claim and need something with absolutely no gluten in it, read on.
Although most people might be fine consuming products containing very little gluten, some unfortunately will not. For folks who are highly sensitive to gluten, we suggest taking a cautious route. In these cases it’s best to brew a "zero tolerance" gluten free beer recipe. This type of recipe would utilize grains such as sorghum, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, and rice which contain no gluten and are also processed in a facility that is also gluten free.
Beer that is truly gluten free is more difficult to find ingredients for, it's more difficult to make, and it might taste a bit different, but it won't contain any gluten and should be completely harmless for individuals with any level of gluten sensitivity. Also, gluten free beer is delicious in its own way and is something that can still be very enjoyable.
Easy Gluten-Reduced Beer Recipe
The easiest and best way to brew gluten free beer (if trace amounts of gluten are acceptable) is to brew an all-grain beer with normal beer ingredients and add an enzyme that breaks down the gluten which creates a "gluten-removed" or "gluten reduced" recipe. Following these instructions will create a beer that contains less than 20ppm gluten.
The most efficient way to make beer with significantly reduced gluten levels is by using a product like Clarity Ferm.
We love Clarity Ferm for two reasons. First, it allows us to make “regular” beer with the same methods we're used to while using the same ingredients we know and love. This means that the process will be straightforward and won't require anything out of the ordinary. And because we're using typical beer ingredients, it shouldn't taste any different than we’re used to. Second, Clarity Ferm is extremely easy to use. Just pitch it in the fermenter alongside the yeast and you’re done. Here’s our number one choice for a gluten-reduced beer recipe.
According to White labs, Clarity Ferm “chops up the gluten proteins so that people with gluten sensitivities do not react adversely.” If used properly, beer treated with Clarity Ferm should test below 20 ppm of gluten. Again, please note that this still may not be adequate for those who are gluten intolerant or who have Celia disease depending on the severity of their condition.
- 7.4 gallons (28 liters)
- 10 lbs (4.53 kg) Pale (barley) malt
- 1 lb (.453 kg) Biscuit (barley) malt
- 4 oz. Crystal 60 malt
- 2 oz. Amarillo hops (56.7 grams)
- 0.5 oz. Citra hops (14.2 grams)
- 1 Whirlfloc tablet
- 1 package White Labs WLP-060 American Ale yeast
- Clarity Ferm
- Add water - Add 7.5 gallons (28 liters) of water to a brewing kettle.
- Heat water - Increase brewing water temperature to 152 degrees F (66.7° C) using a stovetop or an electric brewing system controller.
- Mill grain - Crush grain in a grain mill. Set mill gap to .03", which is roughly the thickness of a credit card.
- Mash in - Stir all grain into the water making sure to break up any dough balls that form.
- Mash - Allow the grains to steep in the 152F water for 60 minutes so the enzymes in the malted grain have ample time to convert starch into sugar.
- Remove grain - After the mash is complete, elevate the grain basket above the kettle using kettle clips and allow to drain for 10 minutes.
- Heat wort to a boil - While wort is draining from the grains, heat to a boil using the brewing system controller, or stovetop.
- Set a timer - Once a boil has been achieved set a timer for 60 minutes.
- Add bittering hops - As soon as the timer has been set, add 0.5 ounces (14.2 grams) of Citra hops.
- Add aroma hops - With 15 minutes left in the boil, add .5 ounces (14.2 grams) of Amarillo hops with 15 minutes left in the boil. Add Whirlfloc - With 15 minutes remaining in the boil, add 1 Whirlfloc tablet.
- Add Whirlfloc - With 15 minutes remaining in the boil, add 1 Whirlfloc tablet.
- Turn off heat - At the end of the boil, turn off heat.
- Add whirlpool aroma hops - After turning off heat, add 1.5 ounces (42.52 grams) of Amarillo and leave them steep for 20 minutes.
- Chill wort - After the whirlpool hop steep is complete, cool wort to 70 degrees Fahrenheit using a plate chiller or counter flow chiller.
- Transfer to fermenter - After chilling to room temperature, transfer wort to a clean and sanitized food grade plastic fermenter or a stainless steel fermenter.
- Aerate - Aerate wort by shaking the fermenter for 120 seconds.
- Add yeast - Add 1 package of White Labs American Ale WLP 060.
- Add gluten enzyme - Add 1 vial (10ml) of White Labs Clarity Ferm to remove gluten.
- Ferment - Allow to ferment at room temperature for 10 days in a dark location.
- Package and carbonate - transfer the beer to bottles or a keg. Carbonate with either carbonation tablets or a CO2 tank.
- Chill and enjoy - Chill to 40 degrees Fahrenheit and serve to friends.
Gluten Free Beer Recipe
If you're looking for a "zero tolerance" gluten free beer recipe with absolutely no gluten in it, this is it.
But be aware, the zero tolerance gluten free beer route is going to be a bit more difficult to pull off simply because finding these ingredients is going to be next to impossible. That is, unless you have a reliable source. Thankfully Gluten Free Home Brewing supply store carries a full line of gluten free beer ingredients that are also processed in a gluten free facility. We called around to our local homebrew shops and couldn't find any gluten free beer ingredients aside from pre-packages "extract" kits. Despite the fact that we have two very nice homebrew shops in our town, nobody carried gluten free beer grain.
We cannot stress how awesome their store is. It's not easy to find specialty gluten free ingredients for all-grain brewing, and these folks have it all. They've got a full line-up of gluten free grains that have been kilned to achieve different roasts. Wow!
They also carry products like gluten free yeast (yes, that’s important too) and all-grain zero tolerance gluten free beer kits. Here’s the recipe for their IPA 1758 kit:
- 5 lb Pale millet malt
- 5 lb Biscuit rice malt
- 2 lb American roasted millet malt
- 2 lb Goldfinch millet malt
- 2 lb Roasted buckwheat malt
- 0.5 lb Rice hulls
- 2 oz Citra hops
- 2 oz Amarillo hops
- 1 Whirlfloc tablet
- 1 pkg Mangrove Jack's US West Cost M44 yeast
- Heat 8 gallons of water to 158F
- While water is heating, grind all grain in a tight mill
- Once water is heated, stir in grain
- Add 15-25ml of SEBAmyl BAL 100 enzymes
- Add 15-25ml of SEBAmyl L enzymes
- Mash for 90 minutes while recirculating mash water
- Reduce temperature to 145F
- Mash for another 90 minutes while recirculating mash water.
- Heat to 170F and hold for 20 minutes
- Remove grain basket and allow to drain over kettle for 10 minutes while heating to a boil
- Once boil has achieved add 0.75 oz Citra hops and set a timer for 60 minutes.
- Add 0.75 oz Amarillo hops with 15 minutes to go
- Add 1 Whirlfloc tablet with 10 minutes to go
- Add 2.5 tsp Yeast Nutrient with 10 minutes to go
- Once timer expires turn off heat
- Add 0.75 oz Amarillo hops and 0.25 oz Citra hops
- Allow to sit for 10 minutes
- Chill to 70F
- Transfer to a fermenter
- Aerate by shaking for 120 seconds
- Add 1 package Mangrove Jack’s M44 U.S. West Coast Yeast
- Install lid and airlock
- 2 days after fermentation begins, add 0.5 oz Amarillo hops and 1 oz Citra hops
- After fermentation is finished (10 days) transfer to keg, chill, carbonate, and enjoy