Best Gluten Free Beers

Best Gluten Free (Hazy) IPA

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Homebrewed Best Gluten Free (Hazy) IPA

Review by Grand Master IV Beer Judge Randy Scorby

One of the biggest challenges a beer judge can face is to judge your own beer. It can be easy to let faults slide, or on the flip side, nitpick it to death. I’m more of the nitpick type.

Lindsi and I decided to brew an American IPA, and to achieve a stellar example of style the malt profile needs to provide a low background note to support the prominent, and sometimes intense, hop character. Pale millet was chosen for the base malt, with a small amount of Vienna millet added to provide a little intrigue. A small amount of pale buckwheat was also included to give a slight color adjustment.

Before I go on I must admit that I am quite the rookie when it comes to brewing gluten free beer, considering this is only my second try at it. That being said, millet was an excellent choice for the base malt as it provided the needed backbone for the hops without dominating the overall aroma and flavor profile.

The hop bill consisted of one ounce of Bravo at 15.5% AA for 45 minutes for bittering, followed by flavor and aroma hops of two ounces of Citra at 12% AA for 10 minutes, two ounces of Chinook at 13% AA for five minutes, and another one ounce shot of Citra at flameout. The yeast used was Safale US05.

The Taste Test

Best Gluten Free (Hazy) IPA

Now that the boring technical details are out of the way, let’s talk about the beer. This was never intended to be a hazy IPA, which is why I noted it as (Hazy). It will likely continue to clear as it rests but the clarity was not as intended. The color was quite light, described as deep straw approaching light yellow too light for style. The white, rocky head retained well and lingered.

The hop aroma is fresh and bright consisting of lemon zest, light orange, and a hit of mixed tropical fruit. The intensity is a bit lower than what was targeted, but the hops still dominate the aroma. The fermentation profile was clean with no esters or other characteristics present.

The flavor followed the aroma with light grainy notes from the millet and moderately high hop flavor that focused more on the citrus fruits, with a touch of tropical fruit. The hop bitterness was medium-high and came into focus mid-palate, growing slightly as it moved into the dry finish. The medium light body is typical for an American style IPA as good attenuation is needed to make the hops pop. It drinks more like a session IPA as the alcohol character is very subdued in the mouthfeel, and non-existent in the aroma and flavor.

So, what would be done differently next time? Several things. The beer was targeted at about 7.2% alcohol but fell short at about 6%, so exogenous enzymes are a must. I actually intended to use them but since this was my first brew in about a year I completely forgot. At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

2021 Homebrew New England IPA

Although the overall hop profile was fresh and bright it lacked the intensity that a northwest hop head has come to appreciate, so an increase in flavor and aroma hops are a must as well as a healthy dose of dry hops. The malt profile was well within style, but since the buckwheat really contributed nothing so I would eliminate that addition, and focus on an addition of caramel millet to adjust the color but not enough to create caramel malt sweetness or flavor.

Brewing gluten free beer has been a very enjoyable step for me as a home brewer, as it has created some challenges that I needed to stay excited about brewing. So I will close with this – I seriously can’t wait for the next one!!

Randy Scorby
Grand Master IV Beer, Mead and Cider Judge

P.S. Like what I do for the gluten free beer community? Consider buying me a beer for my efforts! ;)

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