Get to Know Gluten-Free Grain: Sorghum

This is the first post in a series of posts focusing on gluten-free grains that can be used to brew beer. Our journey begins with sorghum, an ancient and very important grain. The cultivation of sorghum dates back over 5000 years to 3000 BC, in Egypt. Since that time, it has become one of the most widely cultivated grains in the world as well as the “fifth most important grain in the world.” It is most commonly used for grain or fodder (animal feed) and provides food for millions of poor rural communities.

The sorghum plant can grow to over four meters tall, though the grain itself is small, only about 3 to 4 mm in diameter. It is mostly cultivated in tropical and subtorpical regions, particularly Africa and Asia. The primary constituent of sorghum is starch, though it does not contain any gluten.

Only one variety of sorghum is grown as a grain, the species Sorghum bicolor. It is used on breads and dishes around the world, and in China is also fermented to make maotai, one of the country’s most famous liquors. Recently, Sorghum has gotten a lot of attention for its natural gluten-free properties. Beers like Bard’sNew GristRedbridgeNew Planet, and Dogfish Head’s Tweason‘ale use it as their primary grain.

More Info About Sorghum

Name: Sorghum
Family: Poaceae (Grasses)
Other names: Great millet, kafir corn, guinea corn (Africa), jowar (India), kaolian (China), milo (Spain), as well as many others
Largest Producer in the world: United States, followed by India and Nigeria
US Production: 345.4 million bushels or 8.8 million metric tonnes (2010)

Details on how to grow:

What grain would you like to learn about next? Let us know by posting a comment below.

What’s that? You want to hear about beer? Ok, next time, we promise!