Late last week I began my plot to create a gluten-free recipe for what I hoped would resemble an ale. I had some malted oats that have the near diastatic power of 2-row and can allegedly be used as a base malt.
Well, when trying to brew gluten-free your options are very limited when it comes to conventional brewing grains. You’ve got the relatively new malted oat, flaked oats, flaked corn, flaked rice, and then your standard flavor additions. But that really isn’t much to work with — and honestly, going into this I knew that I’d be quite lucky to end up with anything that remotely resembles and tastes like beer.
It’s going to take a lot of luck. I’d say a miracle, but I think the Creator would say, “eh, that’s your mess, not mine. Good luck with that.”
In general, the brewing process went smooth — the mash was relatively on par, hovering between 50 and 58°F on average. But to call this an average brew, well, that’d be a stretch. Nothing about this seemed like I was brewing beer, but rather an odd milky, oaty, mildly sweet concoction. I wouldn’t be surprised if this stuff comes out looking like fermented oatmeal milk — it was just plain odd.
And that wasn’t the only thing that struck me as odd. Both brewing apps that I used had pretty much everything wrong save for the IBU’s and the water volume that I’d need for sparge and strike water. BrewPal nailed the water dead on and the IBU’s are probably spot on as well. The color? FAIL! Both applications took my addition of dark candied sugar and treated it like was an intensely dark grain, throwing it up into the 25-31° lovibond range, which would liken it as a dark stout. But they couldn’t have been more wrong.
The wort had this really odd milky color and consistency until I added the hops and other additions, and at that point started to look like this hazy buttery pea green color about it. The aroma didn’t remotely resemble other brews that I’ve done and didn’t feel too badly about throwing the vent on high to vent out the steam and its aromatics.
What also threw me off was my pre-boil gravity. Both apps had me between 1.050 and 1.070, when I really came in around 1.040, a lot lower than I was banking on. I wanted something with a bit more punch to it and not some light session beer, so I poured in a pound of honey that I was intending on using for something else (long story — I had it originally in my gluten-free recipe, pulled it out because I thought it may be too much to start out with, but well, I put it back in).
So adding the honey kicked it up to 1.057 for my pre-boil. Not bad and certainly within the range I was looking for.
Well, when all was said and done, the beer came out like nothing I had anticipated — it was light and creamy in color, the aroma just odd and certainly not beer-like, and the flavor…well, let’s just say that I will have no qualms about letting that one age in a bottle to see what happens a year from now. With an original gravity reading of 1.098 (25.4 brix), if this thing ferments to its potential, we’re looking at a 10% ABV “beer” and God only knows what the flavor will be like.
I’ll likely chalk up this brew session as pure experimentation and nothing more. You couldn’t pay me to give out bottles of this stuff — no one would want to drink my beer after an experience like this. You may ask, well why don’t you just throw it out? This is junk science here, and I’m just curious as to how this is all going to evolve and play out in the end. It did have a very pleasant hop aroma, but the consistency reminds me of oatmeal milk…and nothing about that makes me think of beer.
I transfer this over to the secondary in two weeks or so after active fermentation passes and then will likely let this sit in a glass carboy for a few months to condition and see what comes of it. If there is remotely any potential in the flavor and I’ve measured out a good gravity reading at the transfer, then I’ll probably bottle ‘em up, throw in some sugar tablets, and let them bottle condition for a very, very long time.
I am disappointed in what came of the brew day — and it taught me to not put too much faith or stock into what an app may say or predict. The color was WAY off, gravity readings way off, and even the consistency wasn’t quite what I expected it to be. But hey, on the bright side the yeast has already taken to the wort and a kroisen has already started to build up; and it’s only been a few hours. That’s something, right?
Alright, onto the recipe and brew day notes.
Brew session notes
Gluten-free oatmeal “ale” — test batch 1.0
Yield: 1 gallon
Pre-boil: 1.070-1.050, OG: 1.116-1.069, FG: 1.029-10.16
Predicted ABV: between 7-11.7%
IBU’s: 43 – 55
Boil volume: 1.25-1.39
Strike water: 5 quarts (168°F), Sparge water: 4 quarts (170°F)
3 lbs Oat (malted)
.75 lbs corn (flaked)
.75 lbs oats (flaked)
.25 lbs rice (flaked)
.2 lbs dark candied sugar (this is where the software went wrong in color interpretation)
1 lbs honey
.3 oz Williamette (60 min)
.3 oz Williamette (15 min)
.3 oz Williamette (10 min)
.3 oz Williamette (5 min)
.6 oz Williamette (1 min)
Yeast: Safale US-05 dry yeast
(you shouldn’t use the liquid yeast because it uses regular liquid malt and can be harmful to those with gluten tolerance issues)
Comparison of software predictions
|Boil size||1.25 gal||1.39 gal|
|Mash: strike vol||5.31 qt||5 qt|
|Mash: sparge vol||2.63 qt||4 qt|
Please note that these readings and predictions were without the one pound of honey added to the beginning of the boil. The honey was added as a spur of the moment addition.