Mangrove Jacks Gluten Free Pale Ale

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Howdy All,

Early last year I discovered that my neighbour is gluten intolerant and on a whim I decided to have a crack at brewing a kit APA to see what is was like. I usually brew extremely glutinous beer from grain, so I did a bit of reading and ended up settling on the Magrove Jacks Gluten Free Pale Ale. Kit and kilo (okay 600 grams whatever) in the fermenter and off it went, and the results weren't too bad at all. Ended up drinking a fair amount of it myself and sending growlers next door which got a really positive response.

Fast forward a year and I've now knocked out about 8 batches of this kit as the neighbour turned out to also have a kegerator and was happy enough to have me take over his beer supply. I've made a few minor adjustments and learned some stuff along the way, and doing regular batches has given me the ability to make incremental changes and observe results which has been useful for me. I'll pop some details about my experience and current method below, but just wanted to also see if anyone else has tried this kit and how it compares to other GF kits/recipes that are kicking around as I don't have a whole lot of experience with this type of brewing.

If anyone's got any sage advice in this space, extract recipe suggestions, notes on comparing this kit to others on the market, if you've spotted glaring mistakes in what I'm doing, or if you'd like to type some words into a text box about gluten free beer at all I'd love to hear from you and appreciate seeing what you've got to say. I'm not super keen on doing all grain brews for GF beer mainly because I'm avoiding the chance of contamination from my mill and grainfather setup, but also because I'm doing these batches pretty regularly and want to keep my brew day simple.

I did early batches as the kit + a kilo of dextrose, but only filled my fermenter with enough water to yield a 19L keg after losses. The initial results were pretty pleasing, a nice aromatic APA with a bit of citrus fruit and a nice mild + fairly balanced bitterness. The main flaws in my mind were that it was quite thin bodied, no presence of maltiness, and cosmetic things like being cloudier than usual and minimal to no head (I don't particular care about looks).

Current batches do have a bit more body and perceived maltiness thanks to adding some extra sorghum extract, and a teeeeeeny bit of frothy head as a treat if you pouring it rough. I also ended up using gelatin to fine the beer and have produced some very clear batches with minimal impact on taste - neighbour appreciates it because it feels more like a commercial beer.

Aside from the bits I saw as flaws in the early batches, the other main issue I've had with these kits is that fermentation is limp. Early batches took as long as 14 - 18 days for primary fermentation, and it would often seem like it was stuck when in reality it was just limping along at low speed. I initially suspected the included yeast as potentially being old / not super viable, but swapped it out with fresh US-05 and got basically the same result. I actually went out and got an iSpindel floating hydrometer specifically so I could have confidence about fermentation progress.

When I started adding sorghum I noticed that fermentation sped up very slightly and I thought that perhaps the wort was just a bit deficient in nutrients, and I also noticed getting a boost in fermentation upon adding dry hops which I thought might be due to either introducing a bit of air into the fermenter or CO2 being able escape the wort a bit better thanks to the presence of the hops - perhaps an aeration issue.

In the batch I'm cold crashing at the moment I added DAP yeast nutrient and was a bit more thorough in stirring / aerating the wort, and knocked 30% off my ferment time down to 9 days. I'd be interested to see if anyone's got any tips to further improve this but I'm generally pretty happy now that this is going faster.

It's all pretty straightforward but here's the notes on what I'm doing in case it's useful for anyone else
  • Hydrate the yeast from the pouch
  • Stir/dissolve the contents of the extract pouch, 500g sorghum syrup, 500g dextrose into 3L of boiled water in the fermenter
  • Top up the fermenter enough to target a batch of 19L after losses (for me that's around 22L)
  • Pitch yeast and DAP, stir the buggery out of it, transfer to fermenter fridge
  • I tend to hold my fermenter at 22 degrees because it really seems to drop off in activity when it's cooler
  • Dry hop for 3 days, just before the end of primary fermentation
  • Take the dry hops out of contact, start cold crashing, add gelatin per the steps at brulosophy
  • Transfer to keg and carbonate after a couple of days
This kit makes beer that makes my neighbour happy and that's really why I'm brewing it, but aside from some teething issues in early batches and limp fermentation that sometimes means I'm pushing back my own brewing plans I'm quite happy with it. I like that it's possible to get a pretty good quality beer out of a nice simple kit, and consistency across batches has been good. As for the beer itself, it's basically beer-like and is a quite pleasant substitute for the real thing. Thanks for putting up with my post if you've made it this far!


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Hey smidgedy

I started brewing due to gluten issues.
Had a mate who did all grain and found out about a product called clarity Ferm. Got him to brew me a few batches using it and it went down well with no ill effect so started brewing myself. It's a product you add to the fermenter When you pitch your yeast And it breaks down proteins. Gluten is a protein so the beer comes out almost gluten free and it only costs about 5 dollars for a 20lt batch. If your Neighbour is a cealiac Then be careful with it as it can affect some Cealiacs But if it's just a gluten intolerance He should be fine. Then he can drink any of the beers you brew. unfortunately I only ever tried the Morgan's gluten free apa once and got an infection so never tried again.

Hope this helps you and your neighbour. Everyone deserves to be able to drink the finest of beer.

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