Episode 190: Brian Thiel and Greg Reichel of Ghostfish Make Great Beer Without Barley

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Ten years ago, if you asked any beer drinker what they thought of gluten-free beer, they’d wrinkle their nose and express severe displeasure at the thought of choking down one of the lackluster sorghum-based beers on the market at the time. Times have changed. A relatively quiet gluten-free revolution is underway, as a new generation of gluten-free maltsters has emerged alongside upstart brewers who experiment with their malts. The result? Gluten-free beer has never tasted so good.

One of the breweries leading the charge is Seattle’s Ghostfish. With four Great American Beer Festival medals for their gluten-free beers (plus a few rather impressive scores from the judges at Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®), the brewery has proven that it doesn’t just make good gluten-free beer—it makes good beer that happens to be gluten-free.

In this episode, cofounder Brian Thiel and brewer Greg Reichel discuss how their gluten-free brewing process is similar to, and different from, brewing with malted barley. Along the way, they touch on:

  • The rise of gluten-free ingredients for brewing
  • Applying experience with barley brewing to gluten-free recipe development
  • Working with enzymes to make fermentation possible, and selecting yeast
  • Understanding how to use grains like millet that aren’t in any brewing software
  • Rebuilding the components that barley brings to beer, such as starch, dextrins, and proteins, by using multiple grains
  • Style-specific approaches to gluten-free brewing
  • Gluten-free sourcing and maintaining a supply chain that’s entirely gluten free
  • The positive aspects of gluten-free brewing, with reduced off-flavors such as DMS and diacetyl

And more.

“Our goal has been the same from the beginning,” Thiel says. “Make the highest quality beer possible that everybody can enjoy, with the added benefit that those who need the safety of a gluten-free beer can rest assured that they’re going to get that in Ghostfish beer.”

*This episode is brought to you by: *

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