When to add adjuncts, and when not to add them...

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

ICWiener

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2012
Messages
839
Reaction score
111
Location
Northern Cali
I guess this is more of a survey than anything else, but I found myself pondering adjuncts the other day. Obviously they're important for specific styles but my question is this:

If adjuncts have become prevalent for a style, but are not necesarily rooted in the history of that style, do you use them? The example I'm thinking of would be something like an ordinary/premium/extra special bitter. Correct me if I'm wrong, but from what I've read adjuncts weren't used in bitters originally. Obviously they have become more commonly used in commercial samples (like Wells or Youngs) now.

So if you're trying to clone an English bitter do you, personally, add flaked maize or sugar? Or do you like to keep it all malt?
 

Revvy

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Dec 11, 2007
Messages
41,296
Reaction score
3,727
Location
"Detroitish" Michigan
Actually in my readings things like brewer's caramel, treacle, and golden syrups were added to many English Bitters traditionally, as were things like Essentia Bina (burnt sugar) in porters.

I don't recall seeing flaked maize in any historical bitters (corn in beer is really an 1800's thing) but I have seen the adjuncts I mentioned in recipes.

Contrary to what many new brewers and beersnobs might think, adjuncts are not the enemy, if used properly. They serve an important role.

The purpose of an adjunct is to dry the beer out, while adding some to the alcohol content WITHOUT increasing the body of the beer.

The easiest comparison to make is the difference between a Barleywine and a Belgian Dark Strong Ale. They are pretty close in color, ibus and gravity, but since the Belgian beer replaces some of the grain with sugars it's a thinner, more refreshing finish....where the barleywine is almost like a liqueur.
 

amandabab

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2012
Messages
1,971
Reaction score
246
Location
spokane
So if you're trying to clone an English bitter do you, personally, add flaked maize or sugar? Or do you like to keep it all malt?
all malt for that.
I really only have a couple corn rice recipes that get brewed often, and the rice one has about 20% rice.
 
OP
ICWiener

ICWiener

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2012
Messages
839
Reaction score
111
Location
Northern Cali
Contrary to what many new brewers and beersnobs might think, adjuncts are not the enemy, if used properly. They serve an important role.
Oh, absolutely. Adjuncts have a very important place in brewing for sure. I think BMC beers have done a lot of damage, making people assume that adjunct automatically equals cheap or low quality...which is obviously not always the case.
 

Revvy

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Dec 11, 2007
Messages
41,296
Reaction score
3,727
Location
"Detroitish" Michigan
think BMC beers have done a lot of damage, making people assume that adjunct automatically equals cheap or low quality...which is obviously not always the case.
But that actually comes from ignorance, non on the historical fact and the reasons why it was and is used in those styles today.

They aren't using rice and corn because it is cheap, but because it is necessary to make that style of beer. You can't make a light lager without adding an adjunct like that to provide fermentables and thin out the body to achieve that light fruitiness.

It wasn't done HISTORICALLY to cut costs, NOR is it done that way today to cut costs. It's done because that's what's needed to make that style of beer.

just like you add corn in a cream ale, or you add sugar in a beligian beer. We don't bitch about that do we? We understand it is necessary to get the right alcoholic content and the body....

Try to make a light lager without any rice or corn. :rolleyes:

The whole history of the light lager is the American populace's (not the brewer's) desire to have a lighter beer to drink, which forced the German brewers to look at adding adjuncts like corn and rice...not as the popular homebrewer's myth has been to make money by peddling and "inferior commercial product" by adding adjuncts, but in order to come up with a style of beer that the American people wanted.

Maureen Ogle proved that in Ambitious Brew it actually made the cost of a bottle of Budweiser cost around 17.00/bottle in today's dollars. Gee I've paid 17 dollars for a bomber of beer before...not too much difference there, eh?

When AH released Budweiser with it's corn and rice adjuncts in the 1860's it was the most expensive beer out there; a single bottle retailed for $1.00 (what would equal in today's Dollars for $17.00) this was quite difference when a schooner of beer usually cost a nickel.

This is the part that blows the "cost cutting" argument out of the water. In order to use those adjuncts you have to process them separately from the rest of the mash, and then add it to the mash. You either have to do a cereal mash to pr-gelatinize them or you have to roll them with heat to make them flaked...either way, besides the labor and energy involved to grow and harvest those plants, you expend labor and energy to make them usuable. You have to boil them in a cereal mash. That's another couple hours of labor and energy involved in the cost of the product.

It wasn't done to save money, it was done because heavy beers (both english style Ales and the heavier Bavarian malty beers) were not being drunk by American consumers any more. Beer initally was seen around the world as food (some even called it liquid bread), but since America, even in the 1800's was a prosperous nation compared to the rest of the world, and americans ate meat with nearly every meal, heavy beers had fallen out of favor...


And American 6-row Barley just made for heavy, hazy beer.

The American populace ate it up!

The market WAS in a sense, craving light lagers...The German brewers didn't want to make the switch. They were perfectly happy with their bocks and all those other great heavy German Beers. But the rest of us weren't into it.

Bush and other German Brewers started looking at other styles of Beers, and came upon Karl Balling and Anton Schwartz's work at the Prague Polytechnic Institute with the Brewers in Bohemia who when faced with a grain shortage started using adjuncts, which produced the pils which was light, sparkly and fruity tasting...just the thing for American tastebuds.

So the brewers brought Schwartz to America where he went to work for American Brewer Magazine writing articles and technical monographs, teaching American brewers how to use Rice and Corn...

The sad moral of the story is....The big corporate brewers did not foist tasteless adjunct laced fizzy water on us, like the popular mythology all of us beersnobs like to take to bed with us to feel all warm and elitist....it was done because our American ancestors wanted it. Or to save money.

Listen to this from Basic Brewing;

November 30, 2006 - Ambitious Brew Part One
We learn about the history of beer in the USA from Maureen Ogle, author of "Ambitious Brew - The Story of American Beer." Part one takes us from the Pilgrims to Prohibition.

http://media.libsyn.com/media/basicbrewing/bbr11-30-06.mp3

December 7, 2006 - Ambitious Brew Part Two
We continue our discussion about the history of beer in the USA with Maureen Ogle, author of "Ambitious Brew - The Story of American Beer." Part two takes us from Prohibition to the present day.

http://media.libsyn.com/media/basicbrewing/bbr12-07-06.mp3
 
OP
ICWiener

ICWiener

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2012
Messages
839
Reaction score
111
Location
Northern Cali
And American 6-row Barley just made for heavy, hazy beer.
Mmm...I like 6-row. Seems like it's a bit underappreciated sometimes.

That was quite the read. Please note that I said that people make these assumptions, not that they're true. The assumption is that BMC beers are cheap and/or cheaply made because they cost so little to buy and the style of beer doesn't seem to be popular amongst the craft beer crowd. Most people out there aren't beer historians, let alone knowledgable about brewing.

And you're right about the difficulty of making them. I sure as hell don't brew with rice because, as you mentioned, it is a PITA. I also don't like light lagers, but that's just me. I'm not gonna spend time and money making a beer that I won't enjoy.
 

Revvy

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Dec 11, 2007
Messages
41,296
Reaction score
3,727
Location
"Detroitish" Michigan
I didn't mean you....Just that is the general assumption, and it comes mostly from what I call ignorant snobbery." A bias against those beers, combined with one of the most historically inaccurate myths in beer history.

:mug:
 
OP
ICWiener

ICWiener

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2012
Messages
839
Reaction score
111
Location
Northern Cali
It's all good.

Hmmm...I do have some liquid invert sugar in the cupboard. Maybe I'll chuck a lb. of it into my next batch of bitter. Since it fits the style.:)
 

Revvy

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Dec 11, 2007
Messages
41,296
Reaction score
3,727
Location
"Detroitish" Michigan
Do you ever read The Blog, Shut up about Barclay Perkins? It's a great blog on the history of English beers. Includes many awesome recipes.

I did a search of Adjuncts and he did some interesting writing on them.


Sugar has been a standard ingredient in British beer for more than 150 years. Ever since its use was allowed in 1847, it's been used as a source of fermentable material, to colour, to prime and to flavour beer. Like everything else, sugar was in short supply in WW II. A bad harvest in the West Indies didn't help.
The use of sugar and adjuncts gradually increased in popularity after the Free Mash Tun Act of 1880. By 1914 malt accounted for less than 80% of the fermentable material employed in
brewing.
 
OP
ICWiener

ICWiener

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2012
Messages
839
Reaction score
111
Location
Northern Cali
Do you ever read The Blog, Shut up about Barclay Perkins? It's a great blog on the history of English beers. Includes many awesome recipes.
I hadn't seen that one. I do love me some English beers, so it certainly looks like a good resource! Most of my historical knowledge is focused on Belgian beers, and even then specifically on lambics and Flemish ales.
 

patto1ro

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2005
Messages
298
Reaction score
82
The example I'm thinking of would be something like an ordinary/premium/extra special bitter. Correct me if I'm wrong, but from what I've read adjuncts weren't used in bitters originally. Obviously they have become more commonly used in commercial samples (like Wells or Youngs) now.
It's actually the other way around. Almost no British beers were all malt 30 years ago. But some brewers (like Fullers) have gone all malt in the last few years.

Just about all Bitters contained sugar after 1860 and after 1880 many contained maize or rice, too. The use of crystal malt, which didn't become common until after WW II, is much more recent.
 
Top