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  • Writer's pictureLori Rice

What is An Adjunct In Brewing

If you’ve never heard the term adjunct regarding craft beer, there’s a good chance there is one in your glass, you just may not know it yet. By definition an adjunct is one thing added to another that isn’t essential, but it supplements or supports it, giving it a little something extra.

In brewing an adjunct is an ingredient added to a beer other than malt that serves as a fermentable sugar. It can be a mashable adjunct meaning it’s added to the mash or a kettle adjunct which means it’s added to the boil. These additions allow brewers to play around with the mouthfeel of the beer, change the body or heaviness, and add loads of flavor.

Common Adjuncts in Craft Brewing

Traditionally adjuncts have been things like honey, oats, maple syrup and some fruits like cherries and berries. Excellent additions, of course, we aren’t about to turn down a honey blonde ale. But they’re also pretty safe and standard when it comes to the final beer. There’s a solid chance you’ll be sipping something pleasant, but familiar once it hits your glass.

In modern brewing the adjunct has served as a license to go crazy and we’re all for it. I mean, we just added ramen to a beer. We’re definitely on board!

Adjuncts Go From Delicious to Daring

Craft beer has always been about the adjuncts. It’s what has evolved traditional styles to meet the curiosity of new palates and attract both experienced and beginning beer drinkers. Aside from grains, experimenting really started in the garden. Fruit adjuncts have evolved from cherries to watermelon, guava, lychee, ube, and prickly pear. Tomatoes, horseradish, mushrooms, and herbs of all kinds often make an appearance.

That tends to be what happens in brewing trends: one idea leads to another and you end up with a great beer that was made with a pretty wild ingredient. It also means the exact definition of an adjunct, it adding a fermentable sugar, gets broadened quite a bit to something that adds intriguing flavor to the beer.

Something like adding pizza crust to the mash. Yes, it exists. Squid ink, yep. Oysters and oyster shells, along with lobster shells, in beer have become common in coastal regions. Rocky mountain oysters have made an appearance as well. That’s the polite name for animal testicals.

Don’t worry, though, if you want something that doesn’t give you the gag reflex, there are plenty more creative options out there that spark curiosity instead. Fried chicken tenders, donuts, sea vegetables, truffles, garlic, cascara (coffee cherries), and gummy candy have all found their way into drinkable beers.

So what do you think? Would you go so far as to order a fried chicken beer or is gummy candy more your style?

The beauty of adjuncts is the potential to create something both unexpected and delicious. It’s why you will always see us adding another interesting fruit to our Illa series or our sours, and why we are happy to step outside the box in collaborations and throw in a little ramen.

Freedom for experimentation is one of the best things about craft brewing and the fact that you, our beer community, are so eager to try the results of those experiments makes it even better.

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