Coeliacs rejoice! Lobethal Bierhaus is developing a gluten free beer

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By Melissa Keogh

Adelaide Hills brewery Lobethal Bierhaus is developing South Australia’s first gluten free craft beer in a bid to boost interest in the state’s pulse industry.

Lobethal Bierhaus owner and head brewer Alistair Turnbull is working with the University of Adelaide to develop a beer made from red lentils and the seed sorghum.

The project is still under development, but Alistair says he hopes the first batch will be released by the end of 2017.

Lobethal Bierhaus head brewer Alistair Turnbull alongside his bespoke malting system, which is being used to malt the sorghum.

Lobethal Bierhaus head brewer Alistair Turnbull alongside his bespoke malting system.

“For a craft brewery to be doing it, it’s certainly out of the ordinary,” he says.

“It’s almost definite that it will be the first gluten free beer from a SA craft brewery.”

Earlier this year, Lobethal Bierhaus brewed the country’s first lentil beer, made at a ratio of 30% red diamond-cut lentils and 70% barley.

The barley component meant the lentil beer was not gluten free, but Alistair said at the time that it could lead the way to developing a brew that is able to be enjoyed by people with a gluten intolerance.

The lentil beer, supported by pulse processor AGT Foods, was deemed a huge success and lauded for its flavour, mouthfeel and head retention.

The gluten free beer is expected to be released by the end of 2017.

The gluten free beer is expected to be released by the end of 2017.

“When we worked with AGT Foods, part of the purpose of the lentil beer was bringing about local awareness of the opportunities in the grain industry,” Alistair says.

“We grow it here, but 99% of it is exported.”

The gluten free beer project has received a $30,000 boost from Primary Industries and Regions SA’s Advanced Food Manufacturing Grants Program.

Alistair says a researcher from the University’s School of Agriculture, Food and Wine will provide guidance in the malting and fermenting processes, and recipe development.

“They help with the protocols so we can call it gluten free and have also been working behind the scenes on regimes for the cleaning of our equipment,” he says.

“We have to make sure the beer is exactly what we say it is – gluten free.

“It’s adding that little bit of researcher expertise.”

The Lobethal Bierhaus is renowned for its craft brews, including an Australian first red lentil beer made at the beginning of 2017.

The Lobethal Bierhaus is renowned for its craft brews, including an Australian first red lentil beer made at the beginning of 2017.

The main ingredient in the yet-to-be named gluten free beer is sorghum, grown in Queensland and distributed from Melbourne.

Sorghum is a grain native to Africa, but is grown worldwide and is Australia’s third largest crop.

Alistair says he is yet to discover what the beer’s flavour profiles could be, but hopes the end product will offer “something quite different” to sorghum beers brewed in South Africa.

“A lack of mouthfeel and head retention are (common complaints) with sorghum beers,” he says.

“It’s about making something a little bit outside of the mainstream.

“We have 25 different beers that we make now, whereas 10 years ago we couldn’t sell anything other than a pilsner.”

Also setting Lobethal Bierhaus aside from other craft breweries is its malting system.

Before barley is brewed, it must be malted. Only few large beer companies undertake their own malting.

“We have our own system for malting grain, whereas usually people bring in the grain malted from large companies,” Alistair says.

“We are about to put sorghum through our system today (October 6) so that’s a step forward.”

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