"There's a Hole in the Buckwheat Ale"
In my obsessive quest for a good-tasting gluten-free beer, this recipe is the best so far. It ends up tasting a little like Coors Light, which is at least slightly better than no beer at all. (Really!) This beer is still in the experimental stages, so feel free to play with the amount of hops, etc., or to add other gluten-free ingredients such as molasses or malted millet. Make sure you check with your doctor before consuming any of these ingredients.
Also note that if you’re newer to brewing, Quality Wine and Ale Supply has a gluten-free beer ingredient kit.
- 3 pounds malted buckwheat (malting instructions below)
- 1 cup corn sugar
- 1 ounce Saaz hops
- 2 ounces Hallertauer hops
- 6 pounds rice syrup
- 1 package Danstar ale yeast
These instructions are for a 5-gallon batch.
Put crushed, malted buckwheat into a strainer bag and add to 1.5 gallons of water in the brew pot. Keep buckwheat in the brew pot, stirring until water starts boiling. Remove buckwheat and add rice syrup, corn sugar and 0.5 ounce each of the Saaz and Hallertauer hops. Boil for 30 minutes and add 0.25 ounce each of the Saaz and Hallertauer hops. Boil for 15 minutes and add another 0.25 ounce of each type of hops. Boil for another 15 minutes to make a total boiling time of 1 hour, then let the remaining 1 ounce of Hallertauer hops steep in the wort for 2 minutes. Strain into your fermenter and pitch yeast when cooled.
This beer will ferment for about 10 days – longer than most ales. Add 3/4 cup of corn sugar for bottling and let the beer age for at least 1 week before drinking.
Instructions for Malting Buckwheat
Since malted buckwheat or millet can be hard to find at your local home brew supply store, as a gluten-free brewer you may have to malt your own. Luckily, this is a pretty simple process.
First, obtain raw (uncooked and untoasted) buckwheat from a health food store or co-op. Rinse about 1 pound and let it sit for 30-48 hrs completely submerged in water, rinsing it off every 8 hours or so. The buckwheat will expand as it soaks up some of the water and also produce a sticky oily substance that should be rinsed off.
Now put the buckwheat into a strainer or fine-mesh colander and let it sit in the open air in a cool, dark place, rinsing off every 8 hours to prevent mold. After 1 day you will see rootlets forming. Let the buckwheat sit in the open air for about 2 days, or until some of the rootlets are about twice as long as the grain bodies.
Spread the buckwheat out in a thin layer on several cookie sheets and bake in a 200-250 degree oven until the buckwheat becomes hard and crunchy (and tastes remarkably like Grape-Nuts). At this point you may increase the temperature and make dark-roasted buckwheat for darker-colored beers.
Use a rolling pin or a glass jar to crush the buckwheat.