Traditional Gluten-Free Beers

From Zero Tolerance Gluten Free Homebrew Club
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Name Continent Region(s) Millet Sorghum Maize Rice Other Bacteria Yeast ABV Acidity Viscosity Fermentation
Aasaliya Africa Sudan Y
Burukutu Africa Nigeria, Benin, Ghana Y A, LM S.cer, S.cha
Busaa Africa Nigeria, Ghana Y L S. cer, Pen
Chikokivana Africa Zimbabwe Y Y S. cerevisiae
Doro Africa Zimbabwe Y Y Y High
Oshikundu Africa Namibia Y Y ?
Pombe Africa East Africa Y ? Schiz p.
Tella Africa Ethiopia Y Y Y Teff, sometimes barley or wheat ? ?
Thobwa Africa Malawi, Zambia Y Y Y
Umqombothi Africa South Africa Y Y Y C, D. an, D. brux, S. cap, S. cer Low High High Spon
Amazake Asia Japan Y
Apo Asia NE India Y
Ara Asia Bhutan Y Y Y May contrain wheat, or barley
Baekse-ju Asia Korea Y
Brem Asia Indonesia Y Y S, C, P, I Med-High ? Culture
Cheongju Asia Korea Y S. cerevisiae
Chhaang Asia Nepal, Tibet Y Y May contain barley Low
Darassun Asia Mongolia Y ? ?
Huangjiu Asia China Y Y Y May contrain wheat, or barley S, I, P, C, R High Culture
Sato Asia Thailand Y Culture
Boza Europe Balkans, Turkey Y Y ?
Horner Europe Austria N N N N Oats N S. cerevisiae Low Med
Mazamorro North America Nicaragua Y Honey ? ?
Tesgüino (aka Sedenchó) North America Mexico Y ? ? Spon
Tiswin North America Sonoran desert Y ? ?
Cauim South America Brazil Y Cassava L ?
Chicha South America Primarily Andes Y Cassava, Quinoa Y Y




  • Yeasts: Saccharomyces cerevisiae, S. chavelieri. Bacteria: Acetobacter, Leuconostocmesenteroides


  • Yeasts: S. cerevisiae, Penicilium damnosus. Bacteria: L. Helveticus, L. Salivarius, L. Casei, L. Brevis, L. plantarum, L. buchneri.


  • Yeasts: S. cerevisiae[1]




  • Yeasts: Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Yeast able to break down starch to sugar


Ethiopia. [2]



  • South Africa. ABV ~2.6. pH ~3.5. Spontaneous fermentation
  • Yeasts: C. ethanolica, C. haemuloni, C. sorbophila, D. anomala, D. bruxellensis, S. capsularis and S. cerevisiae






  • Most commonly made from rice or maize, but may include other cereals that can grow at high altitudes. Additions could include sandalwood and cordyceps (a parasitic fungus that grows on insects. May be served hot or cold, clear or with additions of butter, poached or scrambled eggs.[5]



  • Made from black and white glutinous rice. Inoculated with a dry yeast starter called "Ragi tape"
  • Yeasts: S. cerevisiae, Candida glabrata, Pichia anomala, Issatchenkia orientalis


  • Clear rice wine
  • Yeasts: S. cerevisiae


Chhaang is a beer (sometimes translated as wine) from the Himalayas. It is known as tongba by the Limbu people of Eastern Nepal.[6] The beer is made from (finger or kodo) millet and fermented with the grain (as opposed to extracting liquid wort from the grain). After fermenting for a few weeks, the grains are placed in a drinking vessel with hot water and sipped through a straw.

See YouTube video on homemade Tongba




  • Traditionally made from rice and/or millet. Modern varieties may also include sorghum, wheat or barley. Fermented with starter culture (Qū). Commonly served warm
  • Yeasts: Saccharomycopsis, Issatchenkia, Saccharomyces, Pichia, Candida, Rhodotorula


  • Employs starter culture (luk paeng)[8]



  • Beer originally from Horn district of present-day Austria. Made from 100% oat malt. Fermented with potassium bitartrate (cream of tartar) for some bright acidity. Low alcohol, hazy. Mentioned by Amadeus Mozart as one of his favorite beer styles. Mostly died out by the 20th century. Recently brewed by Seedstock Brewery in Denver, Colorado.[9] Grouse Malt House in Colorado makes a certified gluten free oat malt that could be used for brewing Horner Bier. See Oats page for details on oats in brewing and regarding the debate on gluten free labeling.
  • See also: Seedstock Brewery's Horner Bier recipe (homebrew scale).

North and Central America

Tesguino (Tesgüino)

  • aka Sedenchó
  • Malted corn saccharified using bark/leaves of indigenous plants. Made with chilis.

South America


Bacteria: L. pentosus, L. plantarum


Chicha is a drink originating from the Andes and Amazon regions of South America. Corn is perhaps the most common fermentable source, but chicha drinks can also be made from quinoa, cassava, and other starch sources. While many variations exist, most versions are fermented by a mixed-culture of yeast and lactic acid bacteria.[10] Chicha de jora is a fermented drink that played a significant role in Incan society.[11] Chicha has earned some potentially inaccurate notoriety in Western popular culture based on the understanding that the raw corn used to make the drink undergoes enzymatic conversion with the help of human spit. Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery illustrated this technique on an episode of the 2010 documentary series Brew Masters.[12] While human saliva may have been one means of converting unmalted grains, there is also good indications that malting of corn was a normal practice stretching back to the Inca Empire and would not have required saliva enzymes.[13]


Chicha represents a broad range of drinks -- most but not all alcoholic -- with variations in ingredients and brewing techniques.

  • Bolivia
    • Has stronger sour elements and is typically fermented in barrels
  • Colombia
    • Typically uses pineapple, both for flavor and as a source of yeast
  • Mexico
    • A very similar drink is made in Mexico called Tesguino, made from sprouted corn
  • Peru
    • Fermented in clay pots
    • Additions may include "chancaca" (unrefined sugar cane), barley or wheat (not gluten free!), quinoa, fava beans, fruits or herbs
    • Chicha Morada is a non-alcoholic version made with purple corn and spices
  • Venezuela
    • Chicha de arroz is a non-alcoholic drink made with rice

Commercial examples

By default most chichas made from gluten free grains should be gluten free, however it's always a good practice for those with reasons to avoid gluten to check ingredients and brewing practices (including possible cross contact in a mixed use brewery and use of yeast propagated on gluten containing media).

  • Dos Luces based in Denver, Colorado is perhaps the only U.S. based brewery focused on chicha (along with pulque). Dos Luces chichas are gluten free.


  • In Canada and the United States, malted corn can be purchased from Grouse Malt House (via on the retail scale).
  • Mill corn with a hammer mill or in a corona mill rather than a roller mill (the malted corn is still too hard for the rollers and can cause damage to the mill or the wielder of said mill). Alternatively corn can be ground in a coffee grinder, but the fine grind may lead to some very difficult lautering.
  • Boiling the corn grist (as opposed to filtering wort from the grain prior to boil) may help achieve better extraction.
  • Chicha is traditionally made without hops and may be flavored with fruit and/or spices including cinnamon and cloves.
  • It would be difficult to recreate the diversity of yeast and bacteria involved in chicha fermentation, however saccharomyces cerevisiae, pichia and lactic acid bacteria are known to be predominant.[14] Pichia is available from commercial yeast labs (including Propagate), but generally not on gluten-free media.
  • Making a kettle sour (acidifying wort to the pH 3.5-3.7 range before boiling, cooling and pitching yeast) may be a reasonable proximity for most homebrewers.

See Also