Gluten-Free Sabro Cream Ale November 13 2020, 2 Comments

I've made a few hoppy beers in a row, so I figured it was time to change it up. Inspired by a cream ale conceived of by Clint Lohman, head brewer at Working Draft Beer Company, I wanted to make a gluten-free cream ale. The beer in question was made with 50% barley base malt, 50% rice, Sabro hops, and Kolsch yeast. The combination gave it a complex, delicious coconut, almost pina colada-esque character (or so I've been told).

I've wanted to try that beer for a long time, so now I'll just make my own gluten-free version :)

The Recipe

  • 5lb White Pale Millet Malt from Colorado Malting Co
  • 1.5lb Rice Hulls
  • 4lb Brown Rice Syrup (Boil)
  • 1lb Maltodextrin (10 min)
  • 1oz Sabro Hops (whirlpool)
  • 2oz Sabro Hops (dry hop)
  • Lallemand Koln Kolsch-style dry yeast
  • 1 tsp Wyeast Beer Nutrient (10 min)
  • 1 tsp Irish Moss (10 min)
  • 3 Gallons Reverse Osmosis Water
  • 1/2 Campden Tablet (pre-mash)
  • 13g Ondea Pro brewing enzymes (mash)
  • 10g Ceremix Flex brewing enzymes (mash)

The Mash

The mash went pretty well. Nailed my mash temperature of 163F, and after 90 minutes, the starches had been converted. The only issue was that because it was such a small, shallow grain bed, more bits of grain got through the false bottom than I would have liked.

To counter this, I drained the mash tun into an intermediary container before moving the wort over to the boil kettle. This worked so well that I think I'll do it with the next batch (and probably the following batches as well).

Measured mash efficiency was around 75%, so still getting solid and consistent mashes.

The Boil

I had to extend the boil a little bit because the initial boil volume was a little higher than I was shooting for. I think this was partially, but not completely, due to me not taking into account the 4lb of rice syrup.

As a quick aside, I tried out the rice syrup instead of using rice malt for a few reasons. First, I had never tried it before and Alt Brewing, Madison's awesome, local gluten-free brewery (which just won a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival, congrats!) has had some great success utilizing this. Second, rice syrup is cheaper than rice malt. And finally, I didn't have any rice malt :)

The boil went almost perfectly. I mis-judged how much longer I should boil the wort to reduce the volume. I increased the boil from 60 minutes to 80 minutes, which was about 10 minutes too long. Which means I went into the fermenter with about 5 gallons instead of 5.5 gallons, give or take.

Not the end of the world by any means, but my starting gravity ended up being 1.058 instead of the 1.044 I was shooting for. Again, not the end of the world, but this beer won't quite be the have two or three pints session beer I was hoping for... 

Post Boil

I was a little worried that the dry Kolsch yeast took almost 30 hours to really take off, but once it got going, it chugged along steadily for about 12 days. On day 12, I took a gravity reading, 1.014. Since I was getting impatient (I mean, come on, I wanted to try out my new kegerator!), I decided to dry hop directly in the primary and added 2oz of Sabro hops to the primary fermenter, purging the oxygen after adding the hops.

And since I was FINALLY able to procure a chest freezer and make a keezer, after 4 days of dry-hopping, I was able to cold crash the batch. And for the first time ever, to aid in clarity, I added isinglass when I cold-crashed the beer. Three days later, I racked the clarified beer into a keg, hooked it up to CO2, cranked the pressure up to 35psi, and patiently waited two days.

Final Verdict

Damn, this beer turned out great. Really smooth mouth-feel, dry but with a slight malty sweetness, and a wonderful, complex coconut character from the Sabro hops. I get a better head on this beer than the other beers I've brewed so far. This beer won't last in the keg too long, because I find myself going back again and again to the tap because it goes down too easy.

Definitely the best GF beer I've brewed. Woot!

Lessons Learned

  • Using the intermediary vessel in-between the mash tun and boil kettle worked great in keeping chunks out of the boil kettle.
  • I didn't really see much difference in clarity with the Isinglass. I think the little hazy I'm seeing in the beer may be due to not cooling the wort down fast enough. A project for the winter!
  • The TapCooler counter pressure bottle filler ROCKS! Super easy to use, super easy to clean, I won't use anything else to bottle beer out of a keg.

Up next is a palate blasting West-Coast IPA hop bomb!