Home » Prost! Brewing Gluten-Free Beer

Prost! Brewing Gluten-Free Beer

It has been a mighty emotional week. I almost feel lighter not having my secret be secret any more.

Next time I tell someone I am recharging, the won’t think that I am laying in a bubble bath with a glass of wine or getting a massage. (Man, I would be so spoiled if that’s what “recharging” meant for me). And my coworkers all know that I am a cyborg. So at least that is sorted.

I feel a little bit freer.

I might have struggled a bit keeping my pain secret, but I don’t know why I was scared to tell the people I work with. Because these people are downright awesome. (And we are hiring an awesome person to join our team).

They have been eager test subjects for baked goods. Repeatedly. They were disappointed the day that the doughnuts were not for them.

They make sure that there is gluten-free celibratory beverages on the days we have those. They asked lots of questions when we had an office ice cream social to make sure I could participate. And someone else brought gluten-free tortillas and tortilla chips when we had taco day.

The most inclusive thing they have done for me? We brewed gluten-free beer in the office. And I am the only person who needs to be gluten-free.

It was one of the developer’s ideas. Let’s have an office brew crew. All the cool creative companies are doing it these days. And we are a cool creative company. Besides, a chance to make something yourself that you normally buy in the store? I was sold.

My only condition for joining? That at some point we brew gluten-free. And they said sure.

We had some nifty dudes come to the office on a Saturday in May and teach us about sanitization and tools and how it is really cool to brew beer.

I asked them lots of questions. They only had some answers. Like taking gluten out of beer with an enzyme (like the Estrella Damm Draura, Two Brother’s Prairie Path and other gluten-removed beers) in home brewing. But they said you should really know what you are doing if you are adding the enzyme to a brew to make a gluten-free beer, rather than the lack of gluten being an interesting bonus of a reaction you create to keep the beer from getting cloudy.

They also said that sorghum beers tend to taste one dimensional, but the worst thing to do would be to just add random things to it.

gluten free pale ale | gluten free beer

So,  last month we gathered in a coworker’s kitchen and brewed some gluten-free pale ale using sorghum syrup. (This is called extract brewing – someone has already gotten all the flavor and sugar out of the grains). Using the syrup allowed us to be certain that the grains hadn’t gotten contaminated.

We boiled it with water and hops for quite some time. Then we added more hops and boiled for 5 minutes. Cooled it, added some yeast and sealed it up. Three weeks later, we transferred fermenting buckets, added more hops and resealed the beer.

A week ago, we added honey to wake up the yeast, divided the beer up into bottles and put a #2 on the caps (for Orbit Brew #2), so I would know that those were the ones safe for me. Oh yeah, and we tasted a little bit. It was warm and flat, but I already knew I was going to like it.

Tuesday, at 4:30pm, we opened a couple bottles and split them. It was bliss. Beer with the dudes in the office. That we made. It is what I would call awesome sauce.

Now, this isn’t the best beer I have ever had, but it is better than a fair few of the gluten-free beers that you can buy.

And it is special because my friends and I made it together, so here’s to them! Prost!

[box type=”note”]I realize that brewing beer requires some special equipment, so it is an investment to get started, but it is also a lot of fun to do. If you are using tools and tubing from someone who brews gluten-full beer, be extra, super, crazy obsessive about the cleaning and sanitizing before you use it. [/box]

Orbit Brew #2 : Sorghum Pale Ale
#ratingval# from #reviews# reviews
Recipe Type: Beer
Author: Mary Fran Wiley
Cook time: 40 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Serves: 32
This recipe is adapted from Brewing with Briess, and is incredibly easy. If you have never brewed before, I recommend going to a class at a local brewing store or watching some internet videos so you understand the process.
  • For the initial brew
  • 7.5 lbs Sorghum Syrup
  • 1 oz Cascade Hops
  • 0.5 oz Cascade Hops
  • 1 oz Cascade Hops
  • 2 pkgs Nottingham dry ale yeast or Wyeast 1272GF gluten free yeast
  • For the second fermentation
  • 1 oz Cascade Hops
  • For bottling
  • 1 cup Honey
  1. Mix syrup and water and bring to boil. Add bittering hops (the first ounce). Boil 40 minutes. Add .5 ounce hops.
  2. When the 40 minutes are up, add the last ounce of hops for this stage.
  3. Quickly chill wort (that is the mixture in your pot) by putting the pot in a sink of ice or using a wort chiller.
  4. Ferment for 1.5 weeks at 65-70º F.
  5. Transfer the beer to a fresh container and add an ounce of hops (this is called a dry hop). Let it sit ferment for another week.
To bottle
  1. Add the honey to your beer and transfer to dark brown or green bottles. Let sit for at least one more week to carbonate. And then throw a barbecue or party and enjoy some home made brew.



  1. amanda says:

    Your office peeps sound totally awesome! and that gf beer looks might good (I just stick with vino – why mess with a good thing when it comes to beer is how I look at the gf stuff).

  2. Dia says:

    My son-in law is in HEAVEN now that one of the fellows in our GIG has begun brewing – & is making darker GF beers!! My X as well – they both say this is the first GF beer that really tasted like what they’d been used to, & are eager to get more!
    & JP, the brewmeister, commented that he finds making GF beer much, much easier than making the gluten laden beer in the past (‘before’) was!!
    When we first found we’re intolerant, my son-in law (who has a gene for Celiac w/ one for intolerance!) would have a ‘leaded’ beer when out with a friend, tho he didn’t have other gluten …. & would feel punky for a few days after. He realized fairly quickly that wasn’t worth it, so shifted to totally GF with his wife & kids (& me) ….
    What a GREAT bunch of folks you work with!

  3. Beth R. says:

    How awesome… your coworkers sound amazing! I also applaud you for sharing your “secret” and am cheering you from the side. I spent a solid year suffering from systematic tingling (it felt like when it first starts to spit rain, and the drops hit you) all over my body that I called “prickles”.. that about drove me out of my mind. No one could figure out the cause and test after test came back negative to the point I think my entire extended family thought I was making it up. On top of that I had tingling around my lips/mouth, numbness in my face, and tightness in my throat after eating ..stomach issues, chronic cancer sores, migraines, etc and was on the brink of giving up eating all together. Then, after my Celiac test came back negative, I went gluten free. Within 6 months, it all cleared up, on top of countless other issues I was having. I’m 100% certain I was one of those “false negatives”, as my food allergy tests come back negative and I have solid allergic reactions to the foods I’m allergic to, but I wasn’t willing to go back on gluten for 4 weeks for the biopsy because when I get “glutened” by mistake, I get so miserably sick. My family (not my own little family).. my extended family.. thinks it’s a crock, and doesn’t understand why I am do diligent about what I will and will not eat.

    • maryfran says:

      I am so glad that you are feeling better! But it breaks my heart that your family is not supportive. Somehow I just got lucky with work and family. My family has always been there for me, and now my coworkers are being incredibly awesome people – I won the lottery in the people department, and I know it.

      I hope your family comes around soon!

  4. Shane K Richardson says:

    I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own blog and was wondering what all is needed to get setup? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I’m not very internet smart so I’m not 100% sure. Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.

  5. Noel kiernan says:

    Can you tell us if golden hops is gluten free as we have just bought a case and found that ingredient on it

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