Friday, May 30, 2014

Teff Beer Attempt - Step 1

I'm finally doing it and making my own beer at home. I'm making a gallon just to see how its done. The preparation to get to this point has been a lot of reading, talking to some homebrewers and doing a lot at the local U-Brew-It. (Hi Fermentations!).

I'm fairly confident of doing a brew from malt extract or even malted grains. Mead was no problem to do, and neither is cider. So, why did I think that this was a good idea. Teff. From grain.


How did this come about?

I was talking to a few buddies about what the next recipe was going to be <aside> Making a recipe at a U-Brew-It! means choosing a style, choosing hops and some adjuncts -- except when it doesn't. Sometimes you can mix and match what they have at the shop and not worry about it too much. It's more like making a meal out of leftovers than cooking from scratch. It doesn't make it any less tasty or creative just a little less DIY. </aside> and he brought up the fact that he was having problems with gluten intolerance.

Wait, wait, I know that some of you are now going to point out a hypocrisy, especially if you read me regularly. You'll talk about how gluten allergies have been debunked or roll your eyes or whatever. Here is the truth about that. People eat a bunch of stuff and feel crappy afterwards. Eating a gluten free diet, has up until now, meant eating less processed food. The kid feels better not eating things with gluten like eating more veggies and stuff. It could be that veggies are better for you than processed food. As big business gets into the market, we will see what happens. There is no denying the GI problems that someone who is eating a diet that happens to have gluten along for the ride causes.

It could be that processed food and additives pile up and you don't feel well. It could be that when they eat all the carb rich foods, they ignore the other good for you stuff that may regulate their lovely stomach critters. If my friend believes it is the gluten then so be it. As long as he is willing to try my older wheat type of breads and less processed food then we can keep the scientific door open. Not everyone wants to go on some elimination diet to figure out what is really causing the problem.

I haven't tasted a really good gluten free beer. I know there are a lot stateside but I'm not setting out to make a gluten free beer. I am setting out to make a beer that hails from the cradle of civilization and one of the earliest grains. Teff is the smallest and one of the quickest germinating (36 hours) grains so that if I mess it up, it will be easy to do another batch. There are two Ethiopian drinks that are sometimes made with teff but those would qualify as a mead like substance and I make take a try at those later.

A lot of attention has been paid to hops over the past few years. Grain bills, the stuff that the malt is made out of, has been changing a little too but it is still largely barley due to have readily available sugars and proteins. Wheat is particular to a few styles and corn and rice are still (unjustly) four letter words for craft beer. Older grains that are less likely to be GMO and processed are still forgotten. If I'm going to make a beer at home from scratch then it has to be something quick, simple, historic and not solely steeped in scientific homebrew geekery. I'll get into that as I go along. I'm simply trying to make a good beer from a grain that is not a common grain that has a quick germination so that I don't feel like some hippie growing sprouts.

So, I've sprouted the grain and am now drying it. It unevenly germinated but I'm not going to fuss. What I hope to understand is the process of making beer and I am not so worried about being perfect this time out. If the resulting liquid even tastes remotely like a beer that I would like to drink, then I will do this again. I'll try to blog this process as I move along. So ends the first part of the program. I think the next part will be on Science versus Art.

Other posts in this series: Part 2: Recipe Selection, Part 3: Shopping, Part 4: Malting, and Part 5: Mash and Boil.


  1. Gluten is a vague term. It’s something that’s used to categorize things that are bad. You know, calories, that’s a gluten. Fat, that’s a gluten. Gluten means bad sh** man, and I’m not eating it.

  2. I think in particular what I mean is the proteins found in certain grains (grasses) that provide stretchiness when used in doughs but if I was cynical I guess I could agree with that definition.

  3. whoa, let's not start sticking labels on each other here.