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All Grain Brewing Tutorial
Gluten Free Home Brewing offers the largest variety of malted grains. Shop Our Store to buy malt for your recipe or buy a Recipe Kit.
Single Infusion and High Efficiency Step Mash for Brewing with Gluten Free Malts
by Brian Kolodzinski – Updated February 2018
Single Infusion Mash: This is the recommended method for brewers new to all-grain gluten free brewing using malts from Grouse Malting & Roasting Co and Eckert Malting & Brewing Co. It is also a very simple all-grain mashing technique that requires minimal equipment or expertise. You may buy gluten free malted grains and other ingredients from Gluten Free Home Brewing. The malts (which must be milled before using them) and rice hulls (when necessary) are mixed with hot water and enzymes to achieve a mash at a temperature of 155-165F (Grouse Malting & Brewing Co recommends a mash temperature of 163.4F) for 90-120 minutes (Grouse Malting & Brewing Co and Eckert Malting & Brewing Co recommends a mash time of 120 minutes). The recommended water-to-grain ratio is 1-1.25 quarts per pound. However, when you add grain to water the temperature of the water will decrease. Therefore the “strike water” temperature needs to be higher to compensate for the heat loss.
Tips & Tricks: Read our Blog about ‘How To Calculate The Perfect Strike Water For Your Next Mash’
In order to maintain your mash temperature you will need a mash tun. This is simple to use brewing equipment, typically a converted five or ten gallon cooler, which holds your mash at a relatively consistent temperature for a prolonged period of time. A mash tun may be purchased from a homebrew store, or you may construct a mash tun yourself. There are many easy to follow instructions online and all the parts are readily available. We also recommend wrapping the mash tun in Reflectix to maintain the target mash temperature. Finally, you will need a Hot Liquor Tank (HLT), which is in the most basic terms a container that is connected to the mash tun and holds the “sparge water”. The flow rates of both the mash tun and HLT need to match during the sparge to allow the grain bill to continue to “float” to prevent it from collapsing under its own weight. This process continues until you achieve the desired pre-boil wort volume.
High Efficiency Reverse Step Mash: This method is identical to the Single Infusion method described above except it involves allowing the malt to “rest” at two different temperatures instead of one. In order to increase the conversion of starch and have a high percentage of fermentable sugars, the malt needs to rest at two different temperatures. This would be a very simple process if you started at one temperature and raised the temperature of the mash to the second temperature. Unfortunately, you start at the higher temperature and lower the temperature of the mash to the second temperature. There is a very specific purpose for this; the SEBAmyl BAL 100 or Termamyl enzyme work at temperatures of 155-165F to convert starch into chains that the SEBAmyl L enzyme can work at temperatures of 140-150F to convert those chains into fermentable sugars. By using the enzymes separately at two different temperatures, the alpha and beta amylase enzymes work in their optimal environments. This results in a higher amount of starch conversion, and a higher amount of fermentable sugars.
This process requires two 90-120 minutes rests; one at 155-165F and the second at 140-150F. There are a couple methods for reducing the temperature of a mash regardless if it is stainless steel or a cooler mash tun. A wort chiller will reduce the temperature of a mash quickly and without adding additional liquid to the mash. The most common method is to calculate what volume and temperature of water added to the mash would result in the target mash temperature. There are numerous free calculators available online for this method.
Brewing Gluten Free Beer Using The Grainfather: This is an ongoing multi-part video blog series that is part tutorial and part tricks & tips from our experiences so far using The Grainfather to brew gluten free beer. Watch Part 1 Here and each additional episode has a link at the bottom of the page.
Minimal equipment needed for brewing beer:
- 20 qt. brew kettle
- 5-10 gal mash tun
- 5 gal liquor hot tank
- large metal stirring spoon
- measuring spoon set
- glass measuring cup
- food-grade plastic bucket or glass carboy
- thermometer (preferably digital with temperature alarm)
- additional food-grade plastic bucket or glass carboy
- wort chiller
- wort chiller pump
- metal fine mesh strainer
- brewing siphon
- digital scale
- reusable nylon mesh bag
Reading a Recipe
In order to brew beer it is important to be able to read a recipe and know some basic terminology. Typically when you read a recipe there will be an ingredient list which may include a grain bill. A grain bill is simply a list of just the grains used in a recipe. All-grain recipes solely rely on grains to produce the fermentable sugars.
Most recipes will include some of the following information:
- ABV: Alcohol By Volume.
- Boil: Total amount of time which the wort boils.
- Final Gravity (FG): The ending gravity after fermentation, used to calculate the alcohol content of the finished beer.
- IBU: International Bitterness Units are the measure of bitterness in the beer.
- Original Gravity (OG): The starting gravity prior to fermentation attributes to the potential alcohol content of the finished beer.
- Primary Ferment: Refers to the time the finished wort ferments following the brewing process.
- Secondary Ferment: Refers to the time the finished wort ferments after primary fermentation.
- SRM : Standard Reference Method for determining the color of the beer; also used to describe the color of an ingredient such as malts and grains.
- Yield: The final volume of beer collected after conclusion of the brewing and fermentation processes.
The typical recipe will list the ingredients in the order in which they will be used in the brewing process. And because timing is critical to the brewing process, the ingredient will be accompanied by the time in the process that the ingredient is used. However, when brewing beer, the time starts at the maximum boil time and counts backwards. Therefore an ingredient that is used first, or at the start of the boil, may be denoted with “60 minutes”; while subsequent ingredients will be denoted with a time less than the first ingredient.
Brewing Recommendations - Updated November 2018
Brew In A Bag (BIAB): Conventionally, the BIAB method combines the total grain bill with the strike water to produce the mash. The calculations need to be precise because when you pull the bag of grain out of the kettle, the target preboil volume is left behind. We conducted a series of BIAB test batches which we wrote about on our blog. We are working on specific recommendations, but in the mean time we recommend you read our latest blog 'BIABing with Anthony from Texas'. What we did learn from our test batches is this method creates a much dirtier wort because the grain bill cannot act as a filter as it does in a conventional mash tun. This unfiltered wort results in a lot of additional trub that needs to be included in the recipe calculations. Also, because there is no sparge, a higher amount of fermentable sugars remains left behind in the grain bill. This may require using a larger grain bill to compensate for this loss.
Enzymes: We conducted a series of test batches using different amounts of different enzymes and at this time recommend Termamyl, SEBAmyl BAL 100 and SEBAmyl L. Either the Termamyl or SEBAmyl BAL 100 must be used in conjunction with SEBAmyl L or you may not get fermentable sugars. Remember, gluten free malts have little to no natural enzyme activity; and require the addition of enzymes to the mash in order to turn starch into sugar for the yeast to convert into alcohol. No enzymes = No sugar = No alcohol! Please read our blog Diastatic Power & Enzymes in Gluten Free Malt for a more in depth look at the use of enzymes in brewing gluten free beer.
Grain Absorption Rate: We recently collaborated with an undergraduate senior chemistry student, Ben Barnes, from Southern Oregon University to ascertain the water absorption rate of each style of gluten free malt. Each sample of buckwheat, millet and “naked” rice malts included 15% rice hulls; while rice malt (the non-“naked” variety) naturally contains 37.5% rice hulls. They were each separately “mashed” for 120 minutes and then carefully measured to determine how much water was absorbed by the malt. Please read the findings on our blog: 'Assessment of Water Absorption Across Various Gluten-Free Grains'
Grain To Hull Ratio: All gluten free grains contain a hull. However, the hull of millet and buckwheat is very minimal as compared to rice. Hulls provide circulation during the mash and filtration during lautering. Millet and buckwheat require the addition of 10-15% rice hulls to the grain bill to ensure proper circulation and filtration. Rice malt on the other hand has a surplus of hulls. Rice malt contains approximately 62.5% grain to 37.5% hull. The exception to this is “naked” rice malt which has had the hull removed. You can use this ratio information to calculate how much hull you are obtaining from rice malt in your grain bill; and deduct that amount from the rice hulls you would otherwise need to add to millet and buckwheat malt.
High Gravity Brewing: Brewing a beer with a high original gravity, typically above 1.075, is considered “high gravity” brewing. This is sometimes also referred to as “big beer” and common beer styles include gluten free versions of Barley Wine, Imperial Porter and Stout, Scotch Ale or Wee Heavy, Imperial IPA, Wheat Wine Ale, Barrel Aged Beer and Belgian Style Golden Strong Ale. There are additional challenges with brewing high gravity beers including more elaborate mashing techniques, using more hops, and high alcohol tolerant yeast, just to name a few. Please read our blog High Gravity Gluten Free Brewing by fellow GFHBer Matt S. from VA who has done extensive research in brewing big beers.
Partial Mash / Partial Grain: Conventionally, partial mash brewing consists of steeping a small amount of malt in water for a short period of time before adding an extract to create your wort. We have expanded this brewing method to conducting a mini mash with the specialty (non-base) malts that allow the malts more of an opportunity to impart flavor while increasing maltiness, mouthiness and head retention. This method fully utilizes the malts giving you the most bang for your buck; and reduces the amount of sorghum syrup required since considerable fermentable sugar comes from the malts! We refer to this process as “Partial Grain” and it is a standard brewing method for all of our 3-In-1 recipe kits.
Water To Grain Ratio: We have been recommending a ratio of 1 quart water to 1 pound grain for the last several years. While conducting a series of BIAB test batches, we noticed a significant reduction in conversion. Later, fellow GFHBer Anthony from Texas confirmed our findings that excessively thin mash conditions dilute the enzymes requiring liberal amounts of enzymes to achieve the desired efficiency. Please read the findings on our blog: ‘BIABing with Anthony from Texas’ . We recently ascertained the water absorption rates of gluten free malts which findings can also be found on our blog: ‘Assessment of Water Absorption Across Various Gluten-Free Grains’ . We now recommend 1 to 1.25 quarts water, or greater, to 1 pound of grain as appropriate for the specific grain bill.
Yeast & Yeast Nutrient: First thing first, if you are brewing gluten free beer, you will need to use dry yeast. Please read our blog Yeast Must Knows For Brewing Gluten Free Beer for information about which yeast to use for which beer style, and recommendations on how to properly use your selected yeast including using yeast nutrient.
Please follow our progress on our blog and tutorials for updated brewing recommendations!
Single Infusion and High Efficiency Reverse Step Mash Brewing
Now that you have your equipment and can read the recipe, you are ready to brew an all-grain beer. The next step is to buy a kit or ingredients. You will have more brewing options when buying the ingredients yourself outside of a kit. While kits are convenient and easy to use, you will be limited as to the types of beers you can make with a kit simply due to the sheer number of recipes available and the limited numbers of kits. When you buy supplies for a beer recipe, use the recipe as a shopping list. You will most likely need to buy more supplies than the recipe calls for, and have to measure the amounts out when you get home. A digital scale is the most precise way of doing this. And don’t worry about the extra ingredients as you can always use them in future beers.
Before you start brewing it is important to first clean you work area and sanitize all the equipment. Sanitation is the most critical step in brewing as it prevents unwanted contaminants, mainly bacteria and wild yeasts, from getting into your beer and destroying it. Contaminated beer can be dangerous to consume and should always be disposed of. Sanitize equipment using a sanitizer designed specifically for brewing, and avoid using bleach. Bleach is alright in an emergency but should not be considered for use as a regular sanitizer. A good idea is to buy a spray bottle and fill it with sanitizer as well. Sometimes you may forget a piece of equipment and need to sanitize it quickly.
View our Video Tutorials on YouTube here!
- Mill your grains to release the starches within the grain. It is recommended that you use a mill gap setting of 0.65 – 0.70 mm for millet and buckwheat, and a mill gap setting of 0.90 – 0.95 mm for rice malt.
- Mix your milled grains with rice hulls, as needed, until the grain bill contains 10-15% rice hulls. The rice hulls will allow for proper circulation and filtration. Tips & Tricks: Read our Blog about 'How To Calculate Rice Hulls For Proper Circulation & Filtration'
- Calculate your mash tun water volume and strike temperature to achieve a target mash temperature of 155-165F (163.4F is recommended). Remember to account for the grain temperature and any thermal loss. Also account for any "dead space" a false bottom may create; this requires determining the volume of water that gets trapped within the false bottom and adding to the volume of strike water. Tips & Tricks: Read our Blog about ‘How To Calculate The Perfect Strike Water For Your Next Mash’
- Add strike water to the mash tun and stir in your blend of malts and rice hulls. Then add the appropriate type and amount of enzymes and stir briefly until incorporated. (DO NOT add enzymes to strike water as the high temperature will damage the enzymes rendering them less effective). If conducting a Single Infusion Mash; pitch 15-25 ml (for up to 5 gallons) Termamyl or SEBAmyl BAL 100, and 15-25 ml SEBAmyl L enzymes together. If conducting a High Efficiency Reverse Step Mash; pitch either Termamyl or SEBAmyl BAL 100 enzyme (DO NOT pitch SEBAmyl L until step 6).
- Cover mash tun and let rest for 90-120 minutes (120 minutes recommended) during which time conversion will occur. Wrapping the mash tun in Reflectix will greatly help maintain the target mash temperature.
- Single Infusion Mash; proceed to the next step. High Efficiency Reverse Step Mash; after 90-120 minutes, reduce temperature of mash to 140-150F and pitch the SEBAmyl L enzyme. Cover mash tun and let rest for an additional 90-120 minutes (120 minutes recommended) during which time the conversion will continue.
- Before mashing concludes, prepare the 168F sparge water and add to the hot liquor tank.
- Upon conclusion of mashing, open the valve on the mash tun and begin to collect wort.
- Before mashing concludes, prepare the 168F sparge water and add to the hot liquor tank.“Fly sparge” grains by gently sprinkling water from the hot liquor tank while matching flow rates of the mash tun and hot liquor tank. Allow the grain bill to continue to “float” to prevent it from collapsing under its own weight causing a “stuck” mash.
- Once all the wort has been collected, place brew kettle with wort on a heat source.
- While wort is coming to boil, prepare the remaining ingredients in premeasured amounts so they may be added at the appropriate times.
- Allow the wort to come to a rolling boil. This is the stage that you are waiting for a hot break, and may occur for 5 minutes. This is also the first stage that your wort may boil over. A boil over is when the hot break billows over the side of the brew kettle. Reduce the temperature of the wort to control.
- After the hot break has been achieved and you have allowed the wort to boil for up to five minutes, you are ready for the first addition of your hops or other ingredient. When you add your first addition of hops, start by only adding a small amount. The alpha acids in the hops may cause a boil over. You may notice the head of the wort temporarily build up again. Once the head has subsided it is safe to add the rest of the hops addition. Add all ingredients as instructed per the recipe.
- Before the boil time has expired, you will want to prepare you ice bath or wort chiller. An ice bath is a way to cool the wort without any additional equipment. It is exactly what it sounds like, a sink of ice cold water that you place the brew kettle. You never want to allow any water or other contaminates in your wort. With an ice bath, you bring down the temperature of the wort by using cold water to draw the heat out of the wort. This uses a lot of water and a lot of ice, and does take some time to complete. Another option is to use a wort chiller to pump ice cold water through the wort and draw out the heat. A wort chill conducts temperature more efficiently, and with a constant supply of cold water it reduces the temperature of the wort very quickly.
- Once the boil time has expired, immediately cover the wort and begin to bring down the temperature of the wort. This is the stage that the wort is most vulnerable to contaminants such as bacteria and wild yeast. Make sure anything the wort comes into contact with is sanitized.
- Before the temperature of the wort has reached the range which you will pitch your yeast, you first must prepare the yeast. Some yeast may be dry pitched, meaning the contents may be poured directly into the wort. While other yeasts need to be prepared or started. Follow the instructions on the yeast package.
- Once the wort has reached the temperature range which the yeast me be pitched, it can be transferred to the primary fermentation vessel. You can rack the wort using a siphon, or pour the wort using a metal fine mesh strainer. Either way, you want to leave as much sediment behind while collecting as much wort as possible.
- Now that the wort has been transferred to the primary fermentation vessel, it needs to be prepared for the yeast. Using a medal spoon or whisk, stir the wort vigorously for 4-5 minutes. This aerates the wort and should produce a frothy head.
- Pitch the yeast.
- Cover the primary fermentation vessel and insert the airlock.
- Allow the wort to sit undisturbed in a dark area at 68-70 degrees for at least one week. This will also be the most active period of fermenting.
- After one week you may rack the wort to a secondary fermenting container.
- After another week the wort can be racked to a bottling bucket and bottled with priming sugar where it will continue to age.
Congratulations, you have just brewed your first all-grain brew!
Sample All-Grain Single Infusion Mash Using A 5 Gallon Mash Tun
You can brew a great beer that is up to 5% ABV using only 10 lbs of grains and a 5 gallon mash tun. If you are looking for more flexibility, greater range of beer styles, and an ABV that is more consistent with the specific beer style, you may want to use a 10 gallon mash tun. But you can still make some great beer with a 5 gallon mash tun!
Here is an example of an all-grain single infusion mash using a 5 gallon mash tun:
- 10 lbs blend of gluten free grains, milled, blended with 2 lbs (20%) rice hulls
- 3 gallons (12 quarts) strike water at 183.1F (water-to-grain ratio of 1 quart per pound); or 3.8 gallons (15 quarts) strike water at 178.7F (water-to-grain ratio of 1.25 quarts per pound)
- Add strike water to 5 gallon mash tun and stir in the 12 lbs of milled gluten free grains, rice hulls and enzymes (this will fill your mash tun near the very top but will not exceed the capacity of the mash tun)
- Allow mashing to occur for 90-120 minutes (longer if using malted rice), collect wort and sparge grains.
- Now you are ready to start your boil and brew some great beer!
Sample All-Grain Single Infusion Mash Using A 10 Gallon Mash Tun
To reach full potential of any style beer it is recommended to use 16-18 lbs of grains and a 10 gallon mash tun.
Here is an example of an all-grain single infusion mash using a 10 gallon mash tun:
- 16 lbs blend of gluten free grains, milled, blended with 3.25 lbs (20%) rice hulls
- 4.8 gallons (19.3 quarts) strike water at 183.1F (water-to-grain ratio of 1 quart per pound); or 6 gallons (24 quarts) strike water at 179.1F (water-to-grain ratio of 1.25 quarts per pound)
- Add strike water to 10 gallon mash tun and stir in the 19.25 lbs of milled gluten free grains, rice hulls and enzymes
- Allow mashing to occur for 90-120 minutes (longer if using malted rice), collect wort and sparge grains.
- Now you are ready to start your boil and brew some great beer!