What can you put in a Gluten Free Beer?

No wheat, no rye, no barley – but almost anything else can go in a gluten free beer. Many commercially available gluten free beers are based on sorghum (the usual substitute for the traditional barley) – and many also have other gluten-free grains, such as rice and corn. But there’s no reason to stop there.

The GFBeerGirl has been reading up on the possibilities, and there are tons of recipes out there for home brewers interested in adding a little more zing to their gluten free brews. Just the other day, we came across the Brooklyn Brew Shop’s Beer-making Book: 52 Seasonal Recipes for Small Batches. In addition to being an entertaining read that makes the brewing process very accessible, the book includes one gluten-free beer recipe for each of the seasons.

The recipes are adapted versions of some of their traditional beer recipes, and all feature seasonal fruits and other interesting ingredients. Spring is a Gluten-Free Carrot Pils; Summer features a very Russian-sounding Beet-Buckwheat Ale; for Fall, the ubiquitous pumpkin is the star of a Pumpkin Dubbel recipe; and the choice for winter is a Gingerbread Ale with plenty of spice to it.

The authors are careful to explain the differences in brewing a gluten free beer versus a traditional one. They choose not to base the recipes on sorghum, which, they claim, is “thin, watery and sour,” but rely instead on grains like quinoa, basmati rice and buckwheat. They take the time to explain the malting process for the different grains, which is especially important in gluten-free brewing due to the lack of availability of malted gluten-free grains.

It’s clear that the folks at the Brooklyn Brew Shop understand what ‘gluten-free’ really means. They add a tip, for example, advising gluten-free brewers to stay away from liquid yeasts, which are cultivated from beer and may contain gluten.

The recipes are nicely scaled for the home brewer, with each designed to make a single gallon of beer, rather than the usual five gallons. This gives you only about 10 bottles – enough to get started with, but not so many that one batch will take up your entire kitchen.

Though the book doesn’t fill in for a gluten-free brewing manual, there is enough of interest to the gluten-free brewer to make it worth taking a look at. All in all, the GFBeerGirl is looking forward to trying out these seasonal recipes. Check back to see us get started on the GF Gingerbread Ale this winter!

What are some of your favorite gluten free beer recipes? Have you ever tried using more exotic ingredients? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section!


  1. Brian says:

    You can get a Bard’s gluten-free clone kit at http://www.midwestsupplies.com. This kit is the only place you can get malted sorghum in extract form to use in homebrewing a gluten-free beer. It’s a little hard to find but click on Brewing Ingredients and then American Lagers. There must be some good reasons that Bard’s and traditional craft beers use 100% malted grains – flavor, aroma and color.

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