Beer hacks

Brewing Grains: Adjuncts

Rice in my beer? We take a look at the brewing grains responsible for flavour and texture

Barley, base malts, speciality malts – these are the three flavour foundations of beers. Brewers can add a hit of caramel, coffee or chocolate to create a distinctive flavour profile and taste to their brew.

Yet when it comes to complexity, texture and taste, there are a few other guys that can revolutionise a brew. Adjuncts are essentially any starch ingredient other than malted barley – wheat, corn, oats, rice and rye being the big five.

Read up and learn how to identify them in your beers.


This first adjunct still sparks confusion with some beer drinkers. Corn in beer? That doesn’t seem right. However it can give a brew a smooth, slightly sweet element. It is also used to lighten the density, crisp up the profile and mellow out the flavour of bitter beers. 


Like corn, rice is an unusual beer adjunct. While it provides minimal taste, it can impart a clean, dry, drinkable quality to a beer as well as lighten its body. 


Oats and brews – they get on rather nicely. This adjunct is predominantly used for texture and mouthfeel, most commonly in stouts. Oats impart a creamy, hefty foam head – a common trait of stouts – as well as give the beer a rich smoothness.  


Rye and barley is another great pair. When used in a brew, rye can add crisp, earthy complexity and a slight spiciness. You may also find this adjunct in beers with chocolate or caramel flavours. 


Wheat is the big papa of adjuncts. Its role in beer production can be traced back nearly as far as barley and can be used in both malted and unmalted forms. Since the grain is packed with protein, it helps give a beer a thick, foamy head with a smooth, refreshing taste.

American hefeweizen and German weizen showcase wheat in its malted glory, while Belgian witbier (unmalted) has a hazier appearance and slightly sharp tartness. 

Image: Shutterstock

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