It is not a very glamorous word to use to describe an ingredient. It certainly is not suggestive of something that is used in top quality beer but don’t be put off by the word. The use of different adjuncts can contribute something extra to your brewing and help you to brew truly unique as well as fantastic beers. Read this brief home brewers guide to adjuncts to find out how.
What Are Adjuncts?
Generally in brewing the word adjunct is used to describe an ingredient that is used by the brewer as a source of fermentable extract above and beyond what malt provides. Therefore the term adjunct can include a wide range of brewing ingredients from sugar through to grains such as maize, oats, rye sorghum and rice even malt extract could be described as an adjunct. They also come in a bewildering range of shapes and forms from rolled, flaked, and torrefied grains through to powder and syrup sugars. Typically the adjunct, if it is a grain, is not malted and is therefore looked at as a source of cheap fermentable material. However, if you view these important ingredients as only a cheap source of extract then you could be missing out.
What will an Adjunct do for my brewing?
Apart from fermentable extract adjuncts can increase your level of control over your brewing, they also can contribute flavour, colour and functional properties such as helping stabilise beer foam. For example let’s consider the use of sugar. Obviously you can use simple table sugar or sucrose, which is a disaccharide of glucose and fructose, or more refined syrups such as a high maltose syrup. The thing to bear in mind is that malting and mashing are natural processes, if the quality of your malt varies or the temperature of your mash fluctuates there can be a huge impact on the sugar profile and therefore the fermentability of the wort that is produced. The benefit of using sugars and syrups is that the sugar composition is known, that is you know how much glucose or maltose that you are adding to your brew improving the consistency of the sugar profile of your wort which then improves the consistency of your fermentation and ultimately the flavour of your beer.
Adjuncts such as wheat have been used to improve the foam stability of beer and also for the refreshing quality that they impart on the flavour profile of the finished beer. Other grain adjuncts such as rye, oats and maize have also been used for the flavour properties that they bring to beer.
What do I need to consider when using adjuncts?
Not all adjuncts are suited for home brewing and so this needs to be borne in mind when selecting what to use in your brewing. For example grain adjuncts such as maize, rice and sorghum need to be cooked before use as the gelatinisation temperature of the starch in these cereals is significantly higher than normal mashing temperatures. Brewers who use these adjuncts employ a vessel known as a cereal cooker. Home brewers can still utilise these grains but they would have to boil the grains first. Alternatively good homebrew shops will stock torrefied or micronised versions of these grains. Torrefication and micronisation are processes by which the grain starch is pre-gelatinised so can be used at normal mashing temperatures.
The Key is experimentation.
The good thing about adjuncts is that they come in many shapes and forms and can be used in a number of ways, adding a level of experimentation and therefore individual expression to your home brewing. So look again at the humble adjunct and give them a go in your brewing I can guarantee you will not be disappointed.