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Wheat - adjunct or ingredient?

Adjuncts are unmalted grains (such as corn, rice, rye, oats, barley, and wheat[1]) used in brewing beer which supplement the main mash ingredients (such as malted barley), often with the intention of cutting costs, but sometimes to create an additional feature, such as better foam retention.


Adjunct definition

Ingredients which are standard for certain beers, such as wheat in a wheat beer, may be termed adjuncts when used in beers which could be made without them — such as adding wheat to a pale ale for the purpose of creating a lasting head. The sense here is that the ingredient is additional and strictly unnecessary, though it may be beneficial and attractive. Under the Bavarian Reinheitsgebot purity law it would be considered that an adjunct is any beer ingredient other than water, yeast, barley or hops; this, however, is an extreme view (a 16th century German law) that would exclude hundreds of highly regarded specialty beers, especially from Belgium and the US.

The term adjunct is often used to refer to corn and rice, the two adjuncts commonly used by pale lager brewing companies as substitutes for barley malt. This use of ingredients as substitutes for the main starch source, (to lower the cost of production or lighten the body) is where the term adjunct is most often used.

Adjunct types

Adjuncts can be broadly separated into solids and liquid syrups. Solid adjuncts are ingredients such as cereals, flakes, grits and flours which must be added to the mash tun in order to convert the starch into simple sugars which the yeast can utilise during fermentation. Some cereals have a higher gelatinisation temperature than the standard mashing temperatures and must be cooked in a cereal cooker to gelatinise the starch before adding to the mash.

Liquid syrups, on the other hand, are designed to be added directly to the kettle and therefore can be used to reduce loading on the mash and lauter tun and effectively increase the brewhouse capacity.

Other benefits of using adjuncts include reducing cost, improving consistency, diluting wort nitrogen (thereby improving shelf life) and reducing colour (or increasing colour with roasted cereals and caramels.)

Starch adjuncts



Rice is sometimes used in the production of pale lagers, most notably Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser. Anheuser-Busch is the largest North American buyer of U.S. rice [2]. Rice may be used to lighten the body and the mouthfeel, or increase alcohol content, or add a little sweetness. Because rice is cheaper than barley, it can be used as a cost-saving measure.


Corn is commonly used in the production of American-style pale lagers, particularly malt liquor. Corn is generally used in brewing as corn syrup, and as such is highly fermentable. Like rice, corn is cheaper than barley, so it is used as a cost-saving measure.


Wheat is used in German and American wheat beers, in lambic and other Belgian ales, and in English ales. Wheat lightens the body, improves head retention, and provides a tart flavour. Wheat beers are often served with fruit syrups and/or slices of lemon in the US and Germany.


Rye is used in roggenbiers from Germany and in rye beers from America. Rye is notoriously difficult to brew with, so most rye beers only include a small amount of rye. Rye provides a spicy flavour to beer and dramatically increases head formation.


Oats are used in oatmeal stouts. They provide a silky mouthfeel and a mild flavour.

Sugar adjuncts

Technically these are not true adjuncts but additives as they do not utilise the enzymes from the malt to convert starch to sugars. Sweeteners such as maple syrup, honey, and molasses are common. In honey beer the honey supplies only a portion of the sugars converted during fermentation and is used primarily for flavour. Candy sugar is a common ingredient in strong Belgian ales, where it increases the beer's strength while keeping the body fairly light; dark varieties of candy sugar also affect the colour and flavour of the beer.

Sugars added for bottle conditioning are not generally considered adjuncts.



A number of traditional beer styles are brewed with spices. For example, Belgian witbier is brewed with coriander, Finnish sahti is brewed with juniper berries, and traditional beers in Britain are brewed with honey and spices. Also, some strong winter beers are flavoured with nutmeg and/or cinnamon, while ginger is a popular flavouring for a range of beers. Many commercially available pumpkin ales are made with pumpkin pie spices without any actual pumpkin.

Spices may be added to the wort during the boil or spices or spice extract may be added at any time during fermentation depending on desired results.

Spices used in brewing include:

Other flavourings

Other, less common flavourings include chocolate, coffee, milk, chile peppers and even oysters.

Magic Hat #9 fruit beer in a mug.

Fruit or vegetable beer

A fruit beer or a vegetable beer is a beer brewed with a fruit or vegetable adjunct or flavouring.

Fruit flavouring and adjuncts

Fruits have been used as a beer adjunct or flavouring for centuries, especially with Belgian lambic styles. Cherry, raspberry, and peach are a common addition to this style of beer. Modern breweries may add only flavoured extracts to the finished product, rather than actually fermenting the fruit.

One of the most prominent brewers of fruit beer is Yanjing Beer, one of the largest Chinese breweries, which widely markets Pineapple and Lemon beer. New Glarus Brewing Company, of New Glarus, Wisconsin, produces Raspberry Tart, a framboise made with raspberries, wheat and year old Hallertau hops, and fermented in large oak vats. Magic Hat Brewing Company of Vermont brews '#9', quite popular in the northeastern U.S. and is a 'not-quite-pale ale' flavoured with apricots. RJ Rockers Brewing Company of South Carolina released Son of a Peach Wheat Ale in 2009 which is made with real peaches added during the fermentation process [3]. Früli is a fruit beer made from 70% wheat beer and 30% fruit juice.

Vegetable flavouring and adjunct

Anheuser-Busch brews Tequiza, a beer flavoured with tequila from blue agave nectar. Desperados is a tequila-flavoured beer popular among German and French youth.

Pumpkin-flavoured beers are brewed seasonally in the autumn in North America. An example, Pumpkin Ale, is produced by Coors Brewing Company's Blue Moon brand.

Chile pepper is used to flavour pale lagers. One of the most popular American chile beers is produced by Eske's (aka Sangre de Cristo Brewing) in Taos, New Mexico. Eske's "Taos Green Chile Beer" is made with New Mexico roasted green chiles. Black Mountain Brewing Company in Cave Creek, Arizona, brews "Cave Creek Chili Beer", the only internationally marketed chile beer.

See also


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