You can't do much googling around the subject of gluten-free beer without finding out, if you didn't already know, that in Africa beer (of a kind) has been made from millet for millenia.
It's harder to find out exactly how they do it, though.
We went to Haji's to stock up on chili flavoured snacks recently, and I spotted a half kilo bag of millet. 59p. Be rude not to.
Couple of days later, finaly found a proper recipe for ajon, the Ugandan version of Millet beer.
They malt half the grain, as per, but the rest they subject to a lactic fermentation. Some of it gets a really dark roast. Then they mash the lot pretty much as we do. They rely on natural yeasts for fermentation. No sign of any other flavourings so I'm guessing the lactic stuff is to give a flavour edge in rather the way we add hops, hence I'll skip that as I will use hops.
So, first, would my millet malt? Let's try just a couple of ounces - looking at various normal barley beer recipes online, that'd be just enough for a pint. It did malt, and quickly: the acrospire was longer than the grain in under 48 hours. That would be overmodification in barley, but with millet, who knows?
OK it malts. Now I have to do something with it...
So I dried it, and gave a very light roast to half of it. Then I had to try to mill it but all I had was a pestle and mortar and I didn't grind it all that fine.
To try to give it the best chance, I heated it up in water slowly, trying for enzyme rests for beta-glucanase, protease, and beta- and alpha-amylase. Only, I forgot to check my notes and missed the protease rest. And proper temperature control in a small open saucepan is near impossible anyway. Normal homebrewers with barley go straight in at the amylase temp anyhow, the malting having done much of the work. I brought it up to mash-out temp until it was reduced to the pint I wanted, added pinches of amylase, pectolase, yeast nutrient, and some hop extract, then when it was cool I checked the gravity and added some sugar as it was quite low. The I put it into two small PET bottles and pitched some yeast.
8 hours later realised I'd missed out the boil stage, and it was looking thin with loads of crap on the bottom. Fretted for a bit and decided to chuck it all back in the pan and give it an hour's boil: it's important for some stuff to do with the proteins and starches.
So that killed the yeast, of course, so when it was done and I had it back in the PETs I gave it a bit more nutrient and some more yeast.
There's a nice white yeast crust building up this morning, the liquid looks better, but there's still loads of gunk at the bottom - I think it's the bits I didn't mill finely enough.
Wonder what it'll taste like? I'll let you know in a couple of weeks.