Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Gluten Free Buckwheat Ale

The Goal:  A gluten free all grain beer

The Challenge Encountered:  Getting the sugars high enough

The Outcome: Yet to be determined

The Process: Modern Medieval Ale-wifery

5 gallons of wort extracted and ready to ferment

Buckwheat Ale Ingredients:
4 lbs Sprouted/Roasted/Milled Organic Buckwheat

9 lbs Cooked/Mashed Sweet Potatoes

25 Organic Dried Black Mission Figs

8 Organic Apples Cored/Peeled/ and made in to Applesauce

5 lbs Clover HoneyYield: 5 gallons

6 Gallons Purified Water 

1.5 oz Hallertau Hops

1.0 oz Irish Moss

This gluten-free all-grain beer has been in the works since we first started brewing 3 years ago. Our first batch fell victim to our inexperience. We discarded the mash because it became a thick porridge-product. It might have mashed but more likely it would have clogged up the mash-tun and/or made a wort full of grain particles. Therefore making a beer with sediment and more susceptible to contamination. 

Since those early days of brewing, we have improved our skills, knowledge, and most of all experience and equipment. We went all-in to brewing and vinting. Gerald and I  home-brewed beers, ales and mead, increasing equipment inventory and our experience with each brew. Gerald has since worked two seasons in a winery. I volunteered at many beer and wine events to learn about tasting, styles, and products. There is always more to learn and with every batch we think of ways to improve the process. 

The process and ingredients of this gluten-free beer made me feel like a medieval ale-wife.We did not follow a recipe; rather, we took samples, measurements and even tasted the wort until we got it to where we wanted it. We were creative and used what we had in stock to make adjustments. We were monitoring the boil under the stars. I could not help but whisper words of prayer and love into the brew. 

So on to the steps of making this Buckwheat Beer!

Part 1: Preparing the Buckwheat

Sprouted Buckwheat, Milled Buckwheat
Rice Hulls, The Mash they made.
Gerald sprouted, roasted and milled the organic buckwheat.  

Continuous Improvement: 
Rice Hulls: Gerald added Rice Hulls to the milled buckwheat to give it structure in the mash. The rice hulls did indeed help. We had less clogs in the mash-tun with the rice hulls added. 

Part 2: Gathering the Equipment

Propane Burner Stand and  10 gallon Brew Pot
We bought a propane burner and stand, a propane tank and propane. We also bought a 10 gallon stainless steel pot, a 10gallon mash-tun, and a stainless steel mash-tun paddle.

Continuous Improvement:
Propane Burner: Temperature is a big deal in brewing. The kitchen stove either took too long or could not reach the temps  we needed. The propane burner worked wonderfully!
Stainless Steel Paddle:  A previous batch was ruined by contamination from a wooden paddle. I sanitized in an iodine solution but the porous wood could not be properly sanitized. The stainless steel paddle can be thoroughly sanitized and is great to use. 
10 gl Pot/Mash-TunA 10 gallon pot and mash-tun makes a big difference when brewing and sparging grains. There was plenty of room for the mash and water. The mash-tun insulated excellently and kept the 160 degree strike-water temperature up to release enzymes from the grains to make the mash.

Part 3: Gathering Brewing Specific Ingredients

Yeast with Go-Ferm Added
A trip to the brew store for hops, Go-Ferm,  Ph-Stabilizer, and yeast. A trip to the water store for purified water.

Continuous Improvement:
Go-Ferm: In the past we had a problem with stuck fermentation or yeast that failed to start. Using Go-Ferm helped to rehydrate the yeast, or wake them up.  Go-ferm also protects the yeast from ethanol toxicity.
Ph-Stabilizer: Getting ph right matters. Two previous beers went acidic.While sour beers are growing in popularity I want my beer to come out as planned. So we added a ph-stabilizer. 
Yeast Nutrient: In the past we have bought yeast nutrient. Now, we add just a little wort to the yeast. So the go-ferm wakes it up and the added wort feeds the yeast. Gerald developed this method working at the winery. 

Part 4: BREW DAY 

Aside from the hours it takes to get everything out and sanitized. It takes many more hours to prepare as you can see and then many more hours to brew. Then there is clean-up. We usually plan a brew about a month out then brew on a weekend. We brewed on Martin Luther King Day (After Donating clothes and food to charity in honor of MLK). So maybe we will call this a Social Justice Ale or Have Faith Ale or The First Step Ale or Step One Buckwheat Ale...So many options.

The Brewing Process- Abbreviated:

Mash #1
Mashed Buckwheat, Rice Hulls, and  5 lbs  Sweet Potatoes. 
Specific gravity was 1.005
Mash #2
Boiled some wort with another 5 lbs of sweet potatoes, the home made applesauce, and figs then put through the mash-tun on top of the buckwheat/Rice hulls,and sweet potato mash. 
Specific gravity was 1.024
The Boil
Added 5 lbs Honey, Hallertau Hops, and Irish Moss. 
Specific gravity was 1.070

Cooled the wort. 
Racked into a glass 5 gallon carboy
Topped off the wort with purified water.
Pitched the yeast.

Attached a blow off valve and put into the insulated  fermentation box.

Now we monitor and wait. This beer may come out and it may not. I will keep ya posted. 

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