On the Rise: Brewing with Rice

On the Rise: Brewing with Rice

Posted by Chris Leguizamon

3 years ago | May 17, 2021

Estimated Reading Time: 1 minute, 45 seconds

Here at Pure, we enjoy brewing with rice in certain beers. It makes for a dry beer with nice floral notes and a slight hint of vanilla.

But rice in beer hasn’t always had the best reputation. Historically speaking, the purists may cite the German Reinheitsgebot, a purity law created in 1516 that limited the ingredients in beer to solely barley, hops and water (this was before the influence of yeast as an ingredient was known). Perhaps it was this law, which limited sugar sources in beer to barley, that created an association between malt and quality beer. Or, maybe it is a more current association of rice with mass market industrial lagers that suggests rice beers have less flavor, less body, and are generally inferior.

riceThese days, the reputation of rice is on the rise as craft brewers recognize all that it can offer. All types of rice can be used and in all forms, from whole rice and rice syrup to puffed and flaked rice. Brewers use the ingredient for different reasons: some like using rice with the grain and hull intact as the hull helps create a filtering bed for the mash. Others include rice in their recipe to add flavor. In most cases, rice imparts a light, clean character to beer which is especially unique when added to a hyper-hopped, high-ABV IPA as it can help prevent the beer from becoming too syrupy.

Rice’s high starch content requires that it be cooked prior to brewing; this breaks down the starch in a process called gelatinization. Alternatively, brewers can add flaked rice directly to the mash where the enzymes from the barley are able to convert it to fermentable sugar.

SakuraWe used flaked white rice for Sakura, our collaboration IPA with Pizza Port. An intensely hopped West Coast IPA, Sakura has a super crisp and clean, dry finish due to the addition of rice to the brew.

In the past we have used puffed jasmine rice, and we are excited to try cooking our own unique varietals in the future. Black rice (sometimes called ‘forbidden rice’) is known for its umami flavor with nutty and smooth characteristics, and it adds a dark inky color. The toasting of lighter-colored varietals of rice can create nutty aromatics as well. In the words of our head brewer, Winslow, “the world of rice is endless.”