Gluten free and high adjunct brewing

by Shopify API

From Boulder to Bangalore, just about every country has a hometown favorite adjunct lager and they are often cheaper than expensive bottled water.

Let’s talk about how to get the most from your hefeweizen, dinkel beer, roggenbier, or Hazy IPA too.

Why do we use adjuncts in brewing?

Cost is often a driving force in all decisions, however there are many other reasons to consider adjuncts in your recipe. Ingredients rich in proteins can build mouthfeel for balance, while simple starch structures can reduce body, providing extended drinkability. Rye can offer a stand-out spiciness that is hard to replicate. Millet, sorghum, and buckwheat offer something truly unique in proper gluten-free alternatives. Even previously skeptical brewers are finding the benefits of wheat and oats in their hazy IPAs. With so many beginning to push the limits, a bit of help can go a long way.

The challenges of adjunct brewing

A little taste is easy to work with, but what about 20-30% adjuncts? How about 100%? To properly integrate oats, wheat, corn, spelt, rice, millet, cassava, teff, fava beans or plain-old un-malted barley into an adjunct heavy mash, enzymatic attention is required. Since adjuncts are not malted, they require gelatinization for starch breakdown. Sound bananas? - I’ve discussed that one too! When it comes down to it, all you need is glucose!

Glucose molecules make up a large percentage of organic material used in brewing, and the orientation of the molecules makes all the difference. Cellulose (a long chain of glucose) makes rigid crystalline cell walls, while Amylose (a linear chain of glucose) is much easier to naturally break down. Amylopectin (multi branched chain of glucose) is somewhere in between. Cereal cooking is a process that heats and hydrolyzes starches making the amylose and amylopectin available for enzymatic action. As water and heat do some magic, the amylose will solubilize and the amylopectin loses shape. Amylase enzymes, if not denatured, can “attack” these glucose chains at specific bonding points, breaking out smaller pieces. These pieces will eventually be metabolized by enzymes native to the yeast or micro-organisms used in fermentation.

Breakdown of starch: 1. Glucoamylase attacks the α-1,4 and 1,6 links from the non-reducing end to produce glucose; 2. α-amylase attacks α-1,4 links to produce malto-oligosaccharides of varying length;3. Maltogenic α-amylase attacks the second α-1,4 links of a oligosaccharide from the non-reducing end to produce maltose;4. Pullulanase attacks α-1,6 links to produce un-branched chains. The pullulanase enzyme normally need an α-amylase or maltogenic α-amylase “pre-treatment” before this enzyme is active to producing maltose.

Cereal Cooking – Is it necessary?

Unfortunately, most starch-rich ingredients (other than barley) have gelatinization temperatures above the threshold of diastatic enzymes. This results in denaturing of the enzymes needed for starch conversion before full hydrolysis can occur. In order to combat this, malted barley is often added to the gelatinized starch (after tempering) to provide active diastatic enzymes. Typically, this process is energy, time, and capital intensive, causing many smaller breweries to avoid adjunct ingredients or default to rolled/flaked options. Rolled or flaked ingredients have been hydrated and pre-gelatinized to make amylose and amylopectin available for diastatic conversion, however no enzyme synthesis is taking place during this processing (no malting). During manufacture, water is squeezed out, holding these ingredients in an “enzyme ready” state. Since these grains do not contain high levels of diastatic enzymes, they must be combined with malted barley or supplemental enzymes.

With the use of supplemental enzymes, all breweries can see significant improvements in adjunct usage. Pre-gelatinization of starch is no longer required, reducing the labor and energy requirement significantly. Pullulanases will help in breaking the bonds of pullulans and amylopectin into much smaller glucose fragments, leaving them open to the action of amylases. Temperature stable maltogenic amylases allow for optimal breakdown of amylose, increasing the efficiency of ingredients and improving stability. Proteins and some limit dextrins will remain behind leaving any intended flavor profile. With proper dosing and enzyme selection, it is entirely possible to brew beer with 100% un-malted ingredients.

Ceremix® Flex is optimal for conversion of cereal grains without the use of a cereal cooker. It can be combined with Ondea® Pro to increase efficacy and maximize gluten free ingredients with high gelatinization temperatures. Together they offer increased hydrolysis and starch conversion. Reach out for suggestions on how to maximize your efficiency while reducing your time and labor costs!

About the Author

J.D. Angell


Born in the backyard of beer, J.D. Angell grew up less than a mile from the world’s largest single brewing facility. After years of hazardous materials safety and industrial scientific research, he developed a passion for craft and home brewing. J.D spent time with a liquid yeast manufacturer, which spurred his interest in enzymes and began his technical journey. Since then, he has spent a decade in professional brewing and consulted on processing, equipment, and fermentation. He is now heading operations in five time zones, which has broadened his horizons, brought in awards, and provided him plenty knowledge he is eager to share.

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