For those who have kept up with my erratic posting schedule, you may or may not have heard. It appears that Jess may have a bit of a gluten intolerance. While not as extreme as some could be, it does keep her from enjoying the beers that we have enjoyed for so long now. This does present me with an interesting opportunity.
Since she can’t have the gluten anymore, I had to find a way to help her with this horrible problem. The first thing I did was to dig up some gluten free beers. I am not talking about Redbridge here, which tastes little better than watered down Bud Light. I am talking some of the real stuff. Omission, from the Widmer Bros. Brewing Co. is one of those brews. They currently have three offerings that are very low gluten, and Jess has enjoyed each of them, while also suffering no ill effects. We have also tasted some other interesting brews, such as ciders, perrys, and some other interesting things from the B. Nektar Meadery.
Well, I am a little crazy, with a mind set for beer. I had remembered reading an article in Zymurgy magazine done by C. Papazian that discussed an enzyme that can be put in beer at the beginning of fermentation that is meant to help with chill haze. This enzyme has an interesting side effect: it greatly reduces the amount of gluten in the beer, down to an amount that is acceptable to most gluten-free persons.
Thus, I decided to try my hand at a gluten free brew. The problem remained as to whether or not the brew would taste proper, so of course I had to do a double batch, with one brew having the enzyme added. The brew I decided on was a Wheat Beer infused with Dates and Figs. The recipe follows for a two and a half gallon batch. I brewed these beers on two different days, but followed the same procedure for both. You will also notice something a little different on this brew: this is an all grain brew, with no malt extract being used. As a side note, I decided on a wheat beer for one reason: if Jess is able to drink this brew without a problem, then my all barley brews will be no problem for her.
Date With A Wit
3 lbs. 2-row Malt
5 lbs. Flaked Unmalted Wheat
4 oz. 60° Crystal Malt
1 lb. 6 oz. Dried Dates
3.75 oz. Dried Figs
.5 oz. Citra Hops – 12.5% a.a. – 60 minutes
.25 oz. Citra Hops – 12.5% a.a. – 15 minutes
.25 oz. Citra Hops – 12.5% a.a. – 5 minutes
Yeast: Wyeast 1010 American Wheat Ale Yeast
I did a single step mash for this brew. All of the grains were put in the pot, with boiling water added to bring the mash temperature to about 148° F. I let it sit for an hour, then removed the grains and sparging them in a separate pot. As I have mentioned, I live in an apartment, and am unable to do this entirely properly. (My removal and sparging of the grains involves a hand held strainer and a separate pot of hot water and pasta drain pan. It is a bit of extra work, I know, but 1) good beer is worth it, and 2) Jess is worth it.) On with the recipe: I then boiled the beer, adding the hops in as marked in the hop bill. After the boil, chill the wort, add it to the fermenter and pitch the yeast.
After pitching, I added in the dates and figs. However, to bring out the flavors of the dates and figs, I cooked them up a bit in some water, and allowed it to cool. I add the whole thing to the fermenter and let it go. Give it a week or so until the fermentation is complete, bottle, condition, and enjoy.
For the gluten free batch, I added the enzyme Clarity-Ferm when I pitched the yeast, allowing the enzyme to do what it does during the fermentation.
And now for the fun part! I tasted both of the brews at one time, of course pouring off a bit of the gluten free batch to prevent cross contamination between the beer glasses. The remainder of the gluten free version was for Jess, so she could enjoy the beer with me.
Date With A Wit
Aroma: Citrusy hoppy aroma off the top. A good wheatiness sits under the hops.
Appearance: Deep amber in color, with a gentle carbonation. It shows a reddish color in front of a light. It raised a small head of light bubbles. The beer itself is rather hazy.
Flavor: Date and Fig flavors dance with a heavy wheatiness. The tropical flavors in the hops combine well with the fruit and wheat flavors.
Mouthfeel: Heavy on the tongue, with a dose of carbonation leaving the palate refreshed. A hint of sourness from the fruit blends well.
Overall: A tasty brew, with only minor flaws that will easily be corrected for the next batch.
Date With A Wit: Gluten Free Version
Aroma: A light fruitiness and citrus notes sit over the wheaty maltiness.
Appearance: Pale gold in color, with a strong carbonation. Not much haze for a wheat beer. It rose a strong head of pale bubbles, dropping to a skim of bubbles over the top.
Flavor: Light fruity flavor, with a low hit of citrusy hops and wheaty goodness.
Mouthfeel: Very light on the palate, with a refreshing bit of carbonation.
Overall: A very tasty brew, perhaps better than the version with gluten. We ran out of fig for this batch, so that might be the determining factor. Jess really likes this one: she has a big smile on her face.
Final Note: As I said, Jess enjoyed drinking this brew. The next day, she still had not had any gluten issues, so I am going to call this one a success. I shall be brewing up some other beers that she would enjoy that others may not be working on in the commercial world. Look forward to gluten free scotch ales, belgian tripels, and other malty delights.