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Brewing beer is an ancient pastime that’s been around for at least 6000 years, with significant evidence being found from ancient civilisations. Despite its long established history, the premise behind producing beer has remained similar throughout time and in different cultures. Gluten free beer is brewed in a very similar way to conventional beer, but with some subtle and interesting differences.
It’s likely that beer was brewed in ancient civilisations by ‘spontaneous fermentation’. This involves mixing grains with water, then yeasts in the air turned the mixture into alcohol – this is likely how the first beers were discovered. Although wheat and barley have always been commonly used for brewing beer, some cultures have historically used different ingredients: in Africa millet, maize and cassava were used, North Americans used Persimmon, Japanese people used rice and some Asian cultures used sorghum. Over the years, the use of hops and the invention of devices such as the thermometer has given brewers more and more control over the process and the resultant taste of the beer.
Conventionally beer is brewed by using the following ingredients: grains (conventionally barley), hops (a small cone like flower) and yeast. First malting occurs by heating up the grains so they are dry and crack open. Then during the process of mashing, hot water is added to help release the sugar from the grains. After the water has been drained off, the liquid (called wort) is boiled at the same time as the hops and spices are combined to balance out the flavour. Yeast is then added before the mixture is left to ferment and turn into alcohol. Beer is the by-product of the yeast using up the sugar in the wort. All beers are brewed following a similar process.
The process of brewing gluten free beer is fundamentally the same as any other beer just with special attention to the use of grains because wheat and barley contain gluten. There are two different types of gluten free beer: beers using grains without gluten and beers using wheat and barley but with an added enzyme to remove the gluten. In Australia and the US, a beer is considered gluten free only if it is made from grains that don’t contain gluten. This includes cereals such as sorghum, millet and buckwheat. These are ancient grains so these beers offer an interesting insight into what beers from the past might have tasted like.
In Europe, a beer can be considered gluten-free if it contains less than 20ppm of gluten, so the process of deglutination (removing the gluten from the beer with an added enzyme at the end of production) is also a valid way of making gluten free beer. Both types of beer are widely available with a wide variety of flavour and offer a unique taste experience.
To find out more about our full range of gluten-free beers, visit Green’s online shop.