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Amazing adjuncts, and why brewers use them

By Hollie Stephens


Here at Equity, we are passionate about making the world of beer more accessible for everyone, no matter how much – or how little – you know about the various styles of craft beer available on the market today! By sharing knowledge and breaking down boundaries, we can promote inclusivity and support you in your journey of craft beer discovery, whatever your personal tastes happen to be.


In her blog series “Beer For All”, beer writer Hollie Stephens will shed some light on the history, flavor profiles and brewing methods of some classic beer styles which currently appear in the Equity Brew Co. core range!


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As the world of beer becomes more inclusive and experimental, brewers are increasingly choosing to put their own unique stamp on beer by adding some special ingredients, or adjuncts. In brewing, adjuncts are sources of fermentable sugar other than the malt, such as unmalted grains, honey, syrups, and fruit.


The use of adjuncts in brewing has a long history. In the Hymn to Ninkasi (a song of praise to the Sumerian goddess of beer), there is mention of honey and dates as part of a beer brewing recipe. Early Neolithic jars found in China have been analyzed and found to once contain a fermented beverage made from a mixture of rice, hawthorn fruit and grapes. Brewing wasn’t always this adventurous everywhere, though. These extra ingredients fly in the face of the Reinheitsgebot (the German beer purity law of 1592), which stated that beer must be made only from malt, hops, and water. Yeast, the all-important fourth ingredient, was only added later after its significance was discovered. This guidance influenced the beer industry for many years and led to some brewers considering the addition of other ingredients as somewhat taboo. More recently, however, beers using adjuncts have been in vogue again.


Adjuncts can give beer additional characteristics and flavor profiles that might not be possible when using just malt, hops, water and yeast. For example, a milkshake IPA is brewed with lactose, and this extra ingredient can add body and mouthfeel to the beer, for a rich creamy finish. In a Belgian witbier, the use of flaked wheat can help to increase head retention whilst also providing the slight haze that is a signature of this beer style. When it comes to high abv beers like double IPAs, the addition of some sugars can be used to lighten the body of the beer whilst ensuring increased attenuation; a must for high-gravity beer styles.


Equity Brewing Company’s People’s Porter is a perfect example of how adding an extra ingredient can bring a whole new dimension to a beer. "Being more of a fan of lighter beer styles I found the People's Porter surprisingly light (for a dark beer), and the peanut butter brought a delightful balance to it” says Larry Pickering, general contractor for the Equity Brewing Co. space and Owner of Pop*Modern Design.


Adjuncts can be added to beer on either the hot side (whilst mashing, or whilst boiling the wort) or cold side (during primary or secondary fermentation), depending upon the flavor and impact that the brewer wants to create. Adding additional ingredients must be approached with caution, however, as in some cases they might affect the shelf life of the beer. And of course, it is also very important for brewers to clearly communicate to customers what has been added, especially if it is something that some drinkers might be allergic to (like nuts, for example!).


If you’re a fan of rich but approachable porters with a hint of peanut butter, why not give the Equity Brewing Co. People’s Porter a try?