And no, I'm not talking about making Bud Light, using 50% rice for some sugar/starch. In this case, I'm talking about malted rice, as produced by Eckert Malting right here in Chico. Supposedly the only malter in California, and the only rice malter in the country.
I came across the grains at the local home brew shop, and thought it would be fun to give it a try. I'm using my West Coast Pale Lager recipe, which is a very simple pale ale style recipe using summit and cascade hops, with 10 days of dry hopping, and S23 lager yeast. During the hot summer months it is hard to maintain good ale fermentation temps in the mid 60s, so I've been lagering instead. S23 yeast actually seems to work best in the 55-60 degree range, and the converted wine fridge I have can maintain that temp if I turn it to the lowest setting. As in, the warmest it will go. After primary, I put the vessel in the back of the main fridge and lager at around 40 degrees.
Fermentation usually takes about twice as long, about 10 days, but I've really enjoyed the final product. S23 tends to kick up the malt flavor a bit. It also doesn't seem to produce any diacetyl, but I tend to do at least a 24hr rest at 70deg before transferring to secondary.
I have an email into Eckert Malting to find out if there are any tricks to using this malted rice. Dawn, from the brew shop, mentioned they suggest a longer mash time, as in upwards of two hours. But I want to find out if they had any other tips. I was also interested to see if I could visit their shop, and check out the roasting process.
For my 2.25gal batch, I'm using 5# of base pale rice malt, 1/2# of crystal rice malt, and 1/2# of biscuit rice malt. They also produce a brown rice malt, and a dark rice malt. Prices were very reasonable too, with the pale malt I think going for $1.60 per pound. So pretty much what I'm used to paying for normal barley. This won't be 100% gluten free, as I had Dawn run the rice through her mill, so I'm sure it picked up some barley dust. But I don't really suffer from gluten issues, I just wanted to give it a try. The rice doesn't look entirely cracked though, so I think I'll give it a few rolls with the rolling pin. If I keep using this, it might compel me to build a crusher.
Edited: I borrowed my neighbors mill, and ran the rice through it. Just a bit tighter crush than barley, per Jim's suggestions at Eckert Malting: