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Buckwheat is a pseudocereal, and not a grass. In spite of the name it is not related to wheat and is more closely related to sorrel and rhubarb. The name derives from Dutch boecweite (“beech-wheat”), perhaps because the seeds resemble those of the beech tree.[1]

Buckwheat groats

The plant originated in China, and with domestication spread through Asia and Europe. Buckwheat is naturally gluten free and features in a number of Asian and European cuisines (e.g. soba noodles, kasha, and crepes).

Use in Beer

Although buckwheat is not frequently used as a base malt for gluten free brewing, it does have some useful qualities for brewing. The high protein and low lipid content of buckwheat means that it is a positive contributor to foam production and retention. The higher beta glucan content is a double-edged sword for brewing: although this can aid in providing more viscosity and body, that gumminess can be a real problem during the mash, causing issues with slow filtration and stuck mashes. A beta glucan rest during the initial mash can help overcome this problem, as can exogenous beta glucanase enzymes.

Caprylic Acid

Buckwheat is a prime contributor of caprylic acid, a precursor to ethyl caprylate. When synthesized from caprylic acid by Brettanomyces, ethyl caprylate can produce sweet, fruity, pineapple esters.[2] [3]

Further Reading