Sunday, December 21, 2008

Coming up: Gluten-free Brew Number Two

So, I generally don't blog about beers before I actually brew them, but after today I'm really excited about our next brew, a gluten-free stout. Here's the back story:

So a good buddy of mine was diagnosed with celiac disease sometime after college. Last year, for his 30th birthday, I decided to brew him a gluten-free beer. That beer ended up being our White Riot Gluten-Free Belgian Wit, and it was very well received.

Fast-forward to this summer. I brewed a Belgian Dark Ale for this year's Beerfly Alleyfight, and in the process I discovered the wonder that is D2 extra-dark Belgian candi syrup. I was really happy with the dark stone fruit and chocolatey flavors it added to the beer, and I figured it might be useful for making a stout without malted barley or wheat (both no-nos for celiacs and other gluten-intolerant folks). I filed it away in the memory bank for when I would decide to try a gluten-free brew again.

Well, it's almost Christmas Eve, marking the one-year anniversary of our first gluten-free brew day. While ordering some stuff from Northern Brewer the other week, I decided to order some sorghum syrup and D2 candi syrup. I happened to visit my gluten-intolerant buddy yesterday and he was all excited about my new idea, so I blocked off Wednesday morning to brew.

In anticipation for Wednesday, I decided to plug some numbers into Beersmith today. However, much to my horror, I discovered that 80% sorghum syrup and 20% candi syrup would only get me to around 15 SRM, way below the 25 SRM minimum for a stout. I panicked. What the hell should I do? I can't use chocolate malt or chocolate wheat malt or roasted barley or anything like that. I tried toasting some brown rice and running it through a coffeemaker to see what would happen, but it tasted and smelled like burnt popcorn, and it still wasn't contributing much color at all.

Well, I did a little googling and discovered my answer: this page on home grain roasting. I took a tablespoon of wild rice, roasted it in the oven at 400° F for one hour, and--voila!--I had "chocolate" wild rice. I did a small two-cup test batch with the rice and got a color leading me to estimate a 350 lovibond rating for the rice. After adding the candi syrup, I ended up with a nice, black wort that I would've estimated at 35 SRM, though Beersmith calculates closer to 25 SRM. Whatever it is, it's definitely dark enough to qualify as a stout, and it gives a nice nutty, roasty flavor that should lend my beer some complexity. To compliment it further, I'll also be aging it on espresso beans for a few days to give it more roastiness.

So here's my grain bill for now:

6.50 lb Sorghum Syrup
0.50 lb "Chocolate" Wild Rice
1.75 lb Belgian Candi Syrup D2
8 oz Malto-Dextrine (Boil 5 min)

So that's why I'm excited about this next brew. There's just something invigorating about thinking outside the box. And since I'm partial to German beers, I guess I'm not forced to go that far outside the box very often. Anyway, stay tuned to hear how the brew day goes.

In the meantime, a couple updates... I kicked my Helles up to 60 and then 65° F on Wednesday and Friday, respectively, to give it a diacetyl rest. I'm planning on starting to bring the temp down tomorrow. I also carbonated and tapped the Christmas Ale, our vanilla Doppelsticke, and it is quite vanilla indeed. Personally, I like it that way, but others may find it a bit overpowering (Pete Crowley, the brewmaster at Rock Bottom in downtown Chicago, asked "Why would anybody put that much vanilla in a beer?" before he found out it was mine. It made me laugh...).

Well, I'm off to bed for now, but I really want to be brewing my gluten-free monstrosity. Oh well, just one more thing to look forward to come the holidays. Cheers!


Blogger Ivan said...

Just curious if you ground the chocolate rice in a blender or something to increase the surface area before you put it in the grain bag. Also, what temperature did you steep at? I'm very interested in this and I think it could be a great contributor to gluten-free stouts and porters! Thanks for the post!

10:15 AM, September 30, 2009  

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