Have you always wondered about brewing beer at home? It’s a very simple process. And it teaches you patience as you wait for the sugars to ferment to alcohol. But it’s worth the wait!! As a Celiac, the first thing I missed was my weekly beer!! I started a hunt for excellent gluten free beer. The best on-the-market beer I’ve found is AB’s Redbridge. But, I’m a bit biased as two of my uncles work at AB in St. Louis.
According to this press release from the Celiac Awareness Foundation and the makers of Budweiser, a Gluten Free Sorghum Beer is being manufactured for National Distribution:
ST. LOUIS (Dec. 20, 2006) – Adults who experience wheat allergies or who choose a wheat-free or gluten-free diet, now have a beer that fits their lifestyle. Redbridge is the first nationally available sorghum beer. Beginning today, Redbridge will be sold in stores carrying organic products and restaurants.
Redbridge is a hearty, full-bodied lager brewed using imported Hallertau and domestic Cascade hops. It is brewed with sorghum and has a well-balanced, moderately hopped taste.
“We set out to create a fine, hand-crafted specialty beer made without wheat or barley,” said Angie Minges, product manager, Anheuser-Busch, Inc. “We’ve made Redbridge nationally available to make sure adults who experience wheat allergies or who choose a gluten-free or wheat-free diet can enjoy the kind of beer that fits their lifestyle.”
Redbridge contains 4.8 percent alcohol per 12-ounce serving. It will be available in 12 ounce, six-pack bottles. Redbridge is brewed at the Anheuser-Busch Merrimack, N.H., brewery.
“Brewing a beer made with sorghum was an exciting process,” says Kristin Zantop, brewmaster, Anheuser-Busch, Inc. “We use only the highest quality ingredients to brew Redbridge as is the case with all our beers. Sorghum is the primary ingredient. We then use the lager brewing process using imported Hallertau and domestic Cascade hops without adding wheat or barley to give Redbridge its rich, hearty taste.”
Read more at the National Celiac Awareness Foundation website here:
While Redbridge is great, I was missing the variety of different beers. After a few months, my husband and I decided to try some home brewing and see how it turned out. While the initial cost of supplies was expensive, it was worth it. You may be able to get supplies at-cost or cheaper through someplace like Amazon or eBay. However, we wanted to get “clean” supplies so there was absolutely NO possibility of contamination.
To start, there are online stores (or local stores, if you live in a large city) that offer starter kits. We got ours from the Home Brewer’s Outpost. The kits usually contain the following items:
- 6.5 Gallon Fermenting Bucket with Lid
- 6.5 Gallon Bottling Bucket with Spigot
- 5 Gallon brew pot (stainless steel)
- 3 Piece Airlock
- One-Step No-rinse Sanitizer
- Siphoning Package (Racking Cane, 4 ft. Hose & Springless Bottle Filler)
- Liquid Crystal Thermometer
- Triple Scale Hydrometer
- Bucket Clip
- Quality Bottle Capper
- Bottle Brush
- 21″ Stainless Steel Spoon
- Fermtech Auto-Siphon
- Step-by-step instructions
You’ll also need to purchase at least 48 bottles (hold about 5 gallons, which is a typical batch). Most bottles come with lids. Have fun with the bottles and labels. Instead of paper labels, which would have to be printed, glued on, and washed off between each batch, we opted for a more creative, although initially more time consuming, idea. We etched each of our bottles with our brewing name: “Maple Tree Brewing Co.” It also has our logo of a maple leaf (appropriate, right?!). That way, when we give away our beer to friends, they know the bottle is ours. We keep the types separate by colored dots on the lids. Since you can’t reuse lids (similar to canning lids), there is little waste.
The Home Brewer’s Outpost does offers gluten free kits that provide the sorghum syrup, priming sugars, hops, and yeast. I recommend using the kit the first time. It will help you get a “feel” for home brewing.
Our first batch was brewed in June 2011. We made 24 bottles of an orange-honey ale and another 24 of orange-ginger ale. The overwhelming majority loved the orange-honey ale. The orange-ginger was a little bitter and had a bit of a “soapy” after taste. It got better with age.
Our next batch – Pumpkin Spice Ale – is coming up this Saturday – just in time for the holidays! We are both very excited to be starting our second batch. Jacob is the brew master and I’m the assistant … although it’s a lot of team work. I’ll get into all of the details of brewing – how to clean your equipment, how to brew, the order and timing, and all the “technical” stuff. Once I find my brew book from the last batch, I’ll post the recipes on here, too. I’ll also be sure to take plenty of pictures to share. Be sure to visit my site on Sunday or Monday.