The array of non-malted adjuncts is almost as amazing as the number of specialty malts available. Basically, any grain can be used, to some degree, in brewing. The most used adjuncts are wheat, corn (maize), rice, oats, rye, sorghum, and potatoes (yes, potatoes).
In most cases these adjuncts will require mashing; they all contain starch, which is unusable to yeast. If the yeast don’t get fed, they do not create beer. Therefore, the starch must be converted into fermentable sugar through mashing. If you do not create beers from a full mash but want to play around with some of these adjuncts, you can use enzymatically active malt syrup. This will allow you to mash some of these adjuncts with minimum inconvenience.
Unlike other adjuncts wheat is frequently malted. Malted wheat is quite active enzymatically — it actually has more beta-amylase activity than most malted barley. This makes malted wheat a good choice for highly fermentable beers. By using a liberal amount of malted wheat (20 to 50 percent of the grist) in a low-temperature infusion mash (148° to 152°F), you will be able to break down most of the starch into fermentable sugar and leave very little dextrin behind. Hence, you will have a beer that has less mouthfeel and less body but more alcohol compared with a beer made from the same weight of all-barley malt product. In other words it creates a good summertime beer. Frequently people refer to these beers as “dry beers.”
Unmalted wheat is also commonly used. While this adjunct lacks the enzymatic power of malted wheat or barley, it does supply a clean source of starch and is cheaper than malted barley. Unmalted wheat can be used in relatively high amounts, up to 50 percent of the grain bill. If you use a high percentage of unmalted wheat, you should give a protein rest during the mash and also use a temperature-program mash.
A suitable mash would be something around 125° F for 15 minutes, 148° F for 20 minutes, 157° F for 20 minutes, then lauter without raising the temperature again. This style of mashing will help break down the protein in the wheat (wheat usually has a bit more protein than barley — see Grain Facts chart, page 48) and allows the beta-amylase to work a bit longer than normal. By not heating to 170° F at the end of the mash, you allow the alpha-amylase to continue working until the lauter runoff reaches about 170° F. This again will create a dry style of beer.
The wheat itself also imparts a different flavor to the finished beer. Wheat, unmalted or malted, seems to give beers a bit more thirst-quenching quality, kind of a dry, lingering flavor. Some people absolutely love this flavor while others find that wheat beers are not their cup of tea, so to speak.
One of the drawbacks of this adjunct is that wheat does not come with a husk. Lack of a husk will cause your grain filter bed to be substantially smaller. Generally, with a thinner filter bed the lauter will go faster. However, wheat mashes are notorious for sticking. Wheat’s beta-glucans (gums) increase viscosity (resistence to flow). Again, the low temperature at the start of the mash will help to degrade the beta-glucans and thus help lower the viscosity.
When using wheat, you are also likely to end up with a cloudy product. A cloudy product is only a problem if you do not like cloudy beer. Wheat beers are expected to be cloudy. Some brewers claim that you can make crystal-clear wheat beer by using rice hulls as a filter bed. This is a reasonable idea. If you are interested in a clear wheat beer, try adding about six to 12 cups of rice hulls into the lauter (after adding foundation water) and then lauter as normal.
In addition to unmalted and malted wheat, you can use flaked wheat. The advantage of flaked wheat is that it has already been gelatinized. The process of flaking grains is performed by wetting the grain, then sending it through very tight rollers that are heated. Heat is also generated from the pressure on the grain as it passes through the rollers. The heat gelatinizes the starch, then the grain is dried again and you have rolled or flaked material.
Corn is basically a mutant grass that produces large grain heads with large kernels. The over-sized heads and kernels are good for farmers because they can make more tons of food on the same acre, which makes it cheap for the brewer (at least cheaper than malted barley). Aside from the cost benefit, corn is actually a great adjunct to lighten beers (yes, it is true not all beers have to be highly hopped, IPA-style beers with amber color and a starting gravity of 1.070).
Corn supplies no enzymes to the mash. Therefore, you should use a highly enzymatic malt (such as regular pale six-row American malt) if you are planning to use corn as more than 30 percent of the grist. Also, corn as more than 40 percent of a grist can produce off-flavors. Corn contains a bit more oil than does barley, and it contains more nitrogenous compounds other than protein. The protein level is about the same as barley.
There are several ways to use corn as an adjunct. You can use corn in the form of flour, grits, and even corn meal. If you are using the flour, use it as less than 15 percent of the total grain bill. Flour should technically dissolve completely. However, flour and homebrewing frequently lead to a watery phenomenon sometimes called Lake Lauter Tun (stuck sparge).
Grits are fine to use but they must be boiled or at least heated in water to 190° F to fully gelatinize. This is also the case with corn meal.
To use the grits or meal, the brewer must be competent in mashing. You will have to mix a barley mash at a low temperature into a corn mush at a high temperature and have the two mixtures balance between 149° and 158° F.
To avoid mash problems you can use torrified corn (a fancy name for popcorn). This might seem strange at first, but it is an easy way for a homebrewer to get gelatinized corn without a big hassle. The gelatinization occurs when the kernel of corn is heated to the point where the steam vapor inside the kernel violently ruptures the kernel wall. The corn at this point is well above gelatinization temperature, and the steam pressure acts like expanding foam and pushes the inside of the kernel all higgly-piggly, and you then have gelatinized corn (and a great snack for the movies).
There are a few things you should know before you use popcorn as an adjunct:
1. You cannot use oil to pop the corn. Instead use an air popper or
the microwave; the oil will ruin the beer.
2. Keep in mind a pound of unpopped popcorn will make a huge volume of popped popcorn. It can take a while to get all of the popcorn into the mash. Crushing the popcorn will help speed up the process.
3. Use fresh popcorn, made right before the mash is started. Popcorn left overnight will become stale.
As far as adjuncts go, popcorn is a great choice. It is particularly useful for lightening up those quick-drinking, light summer brews. Also, you then get to use neat new phrases such as “hey, you guys want some liquid popcorn?” Let your friends chew on that one for awhile.
Rice is nice
Rice is another very good adjunct. It imparts very little flavor to the beer and is primarily used to lighten the color and flavor of beers. Rice can be used in amounts as high as
60 percent of the grist under controlled conditions. Rice has a very high starch content, usually in excess of 80 percent. Again, highly enzymatic malt should be used in these instances. Rice has less protein than barley. Since the protein level is a bit low, a protein rest should be used to ensure that the yeast will receive enough amino acids to remain healthy and ferment properly.
The main way to introduce rice into a mash is to make a wet rice mixture (three parts water to one part rice by volume) then boil the mixture, taking care not to scorch the rice.
This mixture can then be added to the mash. For the protein rest you can add the boiling rice mixture to a mash that is made with room-temperature water. This will bring the temperature of the mixture between 90° and 130° F depending on the amount of rice used. Let this mixture set for 15 to 20 minutes, then heat the mash to your desired mash temperature either by adding boiling water or by turning on the mash heater (stove).
As with corn, you can use torrified rice. This product can be purchased at most food stores. It would not seem unreasonable to use all-natural rice cakes in a brew. Experiment with this adjunct. Making a good light beer is a sure test of your brewing ability.
Oats have long been used in the making of oatmeal stouts. Generally, the oats used are flaked or rolled.
Oats are one of the adjuncts that should not be used in large quantities. It is good advice to stay under 15 percent of the grain bill with this adjunct. Oats have a high cellulose content. This makes the lauter runoff more difficult. They also have a high fat content compared with other grains. This can lead to off-flavors and oxidation down the road. The protein content is somewhat higher than that of barley. Finally, the starch content is quite a bit lower. With all that in mind, this is not a filler adjunct.
This adjunct is used to alter the flavor profile of a beer. The flavor of the oats has been described as both sweet and dry. Many brewers believe that oats add a smoothing flavor to stouts, something along the lines of what raw sugar does to espresso.
Experiment with this grain; use it in your darker beers. See if you like it. You can also use it to make multi-grain beers. These types of beers are coming into vogue at the moment. Be the first person in your club to make a seven-grain liquid bread.
A Rye wit?
Rye is one of the new grains that is coming out in commercial production. Actually it is not new; it is just being reintroduced to brewing. It has a distinct flavor that some brewers find more appealing (less dry) than wheat. Rye makes wonderful drink-on-a-hot-day beers.
The grain itself has a bit higher percentage of starch than does barley. It also has a higher protein content but not as high as wheat. It is low in fat material. Overall rye lends itself well to brewing. When mashing, treat this as you would the rice and pre-cook the ground rye. Do not add more than 40 percent rye to a brew.
Chew on Sorghum
Sorghum has not been used much in the past but continues to pique the interest of commercial brewers. It has the potential to be very cheap and useful. There are conflicting reports on how much oil an average sorghum seed contains. Some reports say the oil content is excessive. Some indicate it is similar to that of barley. It is very likely that different strains of sorghum have different oil contents. Sorghum may also be very astringent if not de-hulled.
In any event it is still worth giving this grain a try. Use the freshest grain you can get and mill it just before you use it. This will help keep the oxidation of the oils down. Sorghum is reported to have a fairly high gelatinization temperature. Therefore, boil this grain then decoct it into the colder barley mash (the same procedure used for rice and rye).
You say Potato
Here is an adjunct that is often overlooked yet is one of the cheapest and easiest-to-prepare starch sources around. You have to cook the potato before use, even though a tater’s gelatinization temperature is low enough that it does not require pregelatinization. An uncooked potato is hard to grind up. If you microwave the potato for three to seven minutes, depending on the size of the tuber, you will have a nice, pliable, easy-to-mush-up starch. A more important reason for cooking the Idaho rock is that these little starch bombs have an enzyme in them called polyphenol oxidase. The polyphenol oxidase is responsible for the change in color when you cut into an uncooked potato and leave it for any amount of time. The potato turns either a reddish color or a brown-purple color. The red color might enhance the beer, but the purple color would likely not enhance the aesthetic qualities of the beer.
Again this is an adjunct that will lighten the color of a beer, provided the spud is cooked before mashing. If you use this adjunct in quantities of 20 percent or less, the only problem seems to be that most people find the idea of drinking potato beer objectionable. Just in case, don’t tell your friends about your secret ingredient until they have tried a few of these beers.
Barley, It’s Smokin’
While smoked barley is a malted product, it frequently gets left out of specialty-malt discussions. There are several types of smoked malt, just as there are several types of wood used to smoke other foods. You can have hickory smoked barley, also mesquite, oak, maple, and so forth. Then there are the non-woody smokes such as peat. All the smokes impart a slightly different aroma. With the exception of the peated malts, they impart a dramatically different flavor. Use smoked malt sparingly at the start. It can produce a potent aroma and flavor.
Acorns were used as a staple food source by most of the American Indian tribes and are a traditional food stuff in Korea, where active food science research is conducted on how to best use acorn starch.
The acorn is cheap and easy to obtain in the wild during fall, and it can be purchased, already processed, in many Asian food stores. If you buy the processed acorns, you do not have to worry about eliminating their tannins (astringent compounds).
If you decide to collect the acorns, you should invest some time in cleaning them properly. When collecting, take only the freshly fallen green ones or pick them off the tree. Put them in a dehumidifier or heat them in the oven for about two hours at 200° F. This will dry them and also kill any worms living in them.
Once the acorns are dried, get rid of the shell and then coarsely grind the acorns. To remove tannins put the crushed acorns into a leg of a nylon stocking and run water through the mush for about two hours. The flow rate does not have to be high but should be continuous. After this the acorn mush can either be mashed with the method used for rice or dried to use at a later date.
The acorn itself is very similar in content to barley. It is 72 to 80 percent starch, 8 to 12 percent protein, and has a low oil content. One of its major drawbacks is that, like the potato, it contains high concentrations of the enzyme polyphenol oxidase. Therefore, the beers made with acorns will not be of the lighter variety. In test mashes the color comes out to be a brown shade along the line of a Vienna or Oktoberfest-style beer. This is a good adjunct with which to make your Thanksgiving and Christmas beers.
Most any grain can be used as an adjunct, and this is not an all-inclusive list. Experiment with anything you find — any clean starch source can be used. Be creative. If the beer does not turn out the way you would have liked, write it off to experience and try another adjunct. Bird seed beer, hold the sunflower seeds?
Randy Whisler is a Brewer at Smutty Nose Brewery in Portsmouth, N.H.
He holds an MS in brewing from the Foods Science Department of the University of California at Davis.