No corny jokes here – Just some tips for Gluten Free & High Adjunct Brewing!

No corny jokes here – Just some tips for Gluten Free & High Adjunct Brewing!

Statistics do not lie. From Boulder to Bangalore, the world favors an adjunct lager. Just about every country has a hometown favorite and they are often cheaper than expensive bottled water. Not your preferred flavor? - Don’t give up on me yet. The following post will explain how to get the most from your hefeweizen, dinkel beer, roggenbier, or Hazy IPA too. We will touch on...

•    Why we use adjuncts in brewing
•    Gluten-Free Ingredients
•    Cereal Cooking – Is it necessary?

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.

A little taste is easy to work with, but what about 20-30% adjuncts? How about 100% gluten free? 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.

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.

A major challenge that faces gluten-free producers is what source of glucose to use. Barley offers optimal gelatinization and diastatic power, however the hordein (gluten specific protein), renders it unsuitable for people with intolerance. D-glucose is suitable (and available) for ethanol production, however more flavor contribution can be desired. Finding an economical source of malted ingredients can be difficult, so just create your own!

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.  

Looking for some help? Novozymes offers an array of products designed to benefit the adjunct heavy brewer. Ceremix® Flex and Ondea® Pro are two products that can help gluten-free and un-malted ingredients unlock their fermentation potential. Ingredients such as buckwheat, sorghum, millet, cassava, and fava beans can be processed into sources of fermentable sugar by a basic milling and mashing procedure, reducing the processing costs and processing times.

Ceremix® Flex is specifically formulated to remove the need for cereal cooking in high gelatinizing ingredients. Through a combination of enzymes, it allows for liquifaction of starch components at a reduced temperature. Increased liquifaction means better breakdown of starch, and increased fermentability. Ondea® Pro makes use of several enzymes for improved breakdown of amylopectin and glycogen. These are highly-branched chains of glucose that get “clipped” into smaller segments. Thermo stable and maltogenic amylases create a sugar composition perfect for most microorganisms.

These supplemental enzymes are not specific to gluten free ingredients and can also aid in the production of barley-based beverages with high adjunct percentages. Simply incorporating them into your traditional mashing schedule can increase both real extract and fermentability. The enzymes are deactivated by high heat, so a boiling or pasteurization process can stabilize activity, allowing for consistent results. 

Improving raw material and processing efficiencies saves money. Even a modest increase in extract can lead to exponential value. In a future post we will explore how supplemental enzyme usage can translate into actual currency. Come back for a breakdown on raw material optimization!