Ancient Grains for a Brand New Brewery
Ancient Grains for a Brand New Brewery
Beliveau Brewery was always going to be a gluten-free facility. Even when it was nothing more than a vague dream in the back of our minds, we knew that when it happened, it would be gluten-free. Not just one gluten-free beer on a list of many barley, hops, and wheat beers, either. A full facility that produce solely gluten-free, delicious beers that everyone could enjoy.
We will also be serving regular barley-based beer custom made by others, currently Parkway Brewing Company is our supplier, from our recipes. Beliveau Farm brewing equipment will only be using non-gluten grains so that cross-contamination should not occur
While barley, hops, and wheat are the traditional cereals used in the beer-brewing process, there’s a variety of grains and cereals that can be used instead. We’ve chosen to work with millets, buckwheat, and rice. These grains aren’t as common in our cuisine culture as they are in others; we’d like to take some time to introduce you to these gluten-free grains.
Millets are actually a category of crops, specifically small-seeded grasses that are highly tolerant of extreme weather conditions, such as drought and high temperatures. These are some of the oldest cultivated crops, evidence placing their use as far back as 10,000 years ago. In fact, historians and scientists believe that millets were more prevalent in pre-history civilizations than rice.
Areas of Africa and Asia were the first to domesticate and cultivate these grains. Its ability to withstand drought helped it spread into Europe around 5000 BCE. Evidence points to wild millet being harvested in Ancient Greece and Macedonia as early as 3000 BCE.
Millet is a dietary staple throughout Asia and Africa. It’s used for alcoholic beverages - Bantu beer, for example, is common in Africa, and Tongba in Nepal is a traditional and indigenous alcoholic beverage. Awokoshi, a speciality of Osaka, Japan, are candied millet puffs (they look sort of like rice krispies). In India, millet flour is used to make flat bread. Variations of millet porridge are found in Russia and China, as well as in Germany.
Fagopyrum esculentum (whew, that’s a mouthful!) otherwise known as buckwheat is a short-season crop that can adapt to harsh environments - northern regions, low-fertility or acidic soils. Unlike most beer-brewing ingredients, buckwheat is not a cereal. It can still be used to make a malt to form the foundational mash for beer-brewing.
Buckwheat was domesticated first in Southeast Asia, estimated around 6000 BCE. Historians suspect domestication began in the Yunnan region of China, and spread throughout Asia, the Middle East, and eventually up to Europe. It was also one of the earliest crops introduced into North America by European colonists.
Buckwheat is a common noodle grain in Asian countries; wheat can’t grow in the mountainous regions of Tibet and Northern China, leading early civilizations across western Asia to use buckwheat instead. Today, buckwheat noodles are a staple of Japanese and Korean cuisine. In India, buckwheat flour is used during Hindu fasting days as a replacement for cereals such as rice or wheat flours (which are prohibited during these rituals). Around the world, buckwheat is also a common ingredient in pancakes. There are varieties of buckwheat pancakes in Russia, France, and Belgium. And, fun facts, buckwheat is also a good honey plant!
Rice is one of the most widely consumed staples in the world, and takes third place in highest worldwide production out of all agricultural commodities. Rice production is labor intensive and requires ample water, but otherwise can be grown almost anywhere, including mountains and steep hills.
Thanks to centuries of trade, rice is grown and eaten worldwide, but originally the plant was native to Asia and some parts of Africa. Evidence points to civilizations in the Yangtze River Basin in China as the first to domesticate rice, sometime between 13,500 to 8,200 years ago (making it possibly the oldest cereal on this list!) African rice cultivation began in the Niger River delta, approximately 3,500 years ago.
China is, to this day, the largest consumer of rice by over 100 million metric tons. India is second, but is still about 30 million metric tons behind China’s consumption. That is a lot of rice!
So there you have it: a (very) brief history of our brewing grains of choice. We selected these three grains for their taste, their accessibility, and their lack of gluten. We’ve been perfecting our brews over these past months in preparation for our opening, and we’re excited for everyone (21+, of course) to be able to try them.
Our Brewery is opening on September 11th at 4:45 PM. Join us for our ribbon cutting, or stop by one weekend to enjoy a crisp brew in the fall air. We can’t wait to show you what a good time gluten-free can be!