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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Beer School #3 Adjuncts

Adjuncts are any grain that is not malted but is used in brewing.

Each of the adjunct grains will be dealt with individually with what beer styles they are used in and what they contribute to the beer itself.


Wheat is used in a variety of beer styles, sometimes as a "head grain". Head grains are grains that improve the head retention in beers, and because wheat is full of protein it is perfect for creating a rich and flothy head on all sorts of beers. The beer often has a haze to it from the high level of proteins and many wheat beers are unfiltered, meaning the yeast is still present.

Wheat does add its own flavor to beer, and will add a characteristic that I think of as bready or doughy. This character is most notable in American style hefeweizens like Boulevard's unfiltered wheat. Besides american style hefeweizen, the German style hefeweizen (Konig Ludwig) is heavily reliant on wheat. These beers use a yeast strain which creates the wonderful flavors of clove, banana or bubble gum is a drinkable summer beer. Wit beer (Celis Wit) is another beer that needs wheat to exist, it is often brewed with spices like coriander and orange peel.


Oats are used as a head grain in some beers, but really come into their own in oatmeal stout. Oats add an increased mouthfeel, making any beer with oats in it seem smooth and silky in the mouth. It seems historically that oats were a large portion of the mash bill in medieval beers. I have been warned that too much oats in a beer lends an unpleasent grainy bitterness. Perhaps this was used to counter the sweetness of malt before hops came into wide use.


Rye is a grain that adds a phenolically or spicy character to brews. It is needed for the German beer style "Rogenbier" which melds the spicyness of rye with the clove and banana flavors of hefeweizen.

Corn and Rice-

I lumped Corn and Rice together because they are mainly used for the same reason, as adjuncts that lighten the body and the flavor of a beer. These are used mainly in American style pilsners (Budweiser, Coors, Miller) to make a light bodied and light flavored drink.

There are many other grains used as adjuncts in brewing, but mostly in small regional styles, and none as widely as these adjuncts.

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