It's about the beer
Gina Miller and Bill Keeper
I don't know about you Bill, but when most I think of American macro producers one word
comes to mind- adjuncts. For those new to beer, adjuncts are unmalted grains mainly corn
and rice, used in brewing to supplement the main mash ingredients (such as malted barley).
Simply, it makes the beer cheaper to produce. Good idea if you're a brewer not so for the
drinker since it cheapens the flavor too.
Take a look at a good craft beer and you won't see the typical adjuncts anywhere on the label.
Take at the best selling Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser and you get "rice" in easy to read letter.
In fact, Anheuser-Busch is the largest North American buyer of U.S. rice. In the case of A-B,
rice is used to lighten the body and the mouthfeel. Bill, even you know that rice is cheaper
than barley. So who cares if it waters down the beer? Well, I do. Write this down, my
friend,adjuncts in these products are used because it leads to a relatively thin and flavorless
You're a home brewer Bill so you know that when 40% of the grist is made up of tasteless rice
it's clearly not done to provide flavour! It's used to mop up enzymes from the malt.That way,
sub standard malt doesn't make for a hazy beer.
Corn is the other most common adjunct used in the production of American macro lagers,
particularly malt liquor. The form it generally takes when used in brewing is corn syrup. As
corn syrup it's highly fermentable and like rice, corn is cheaper than barley. Cheap
ingredients make for cheap, as in bad, beer.
Rice is very neutral, but corn is more detectable in beer flavor. It's not very hard to pick out an
all-malt lager versus one made with high levels of corn or rice either. They might not add as
much character as the malt itself, but the lack of malt is just as much of a flavor variation in and
Sadly, Bud, Miller, Coors, and their kind use corn and rice to achieve flavor profiles that the
vast majority of beer drinkers around the world desire. Catering to the tastes of this huge
market is what brings profits. People want no flavor and that's what they give them.
Maybe it should be our mission to educate people on how great a real beer can taste. Once
that happens they'll never go back to the adjunct guys.
Hey, chug-a-lug, Bill.....see you next month.
Gina, I don't want to have facts get in the way of your anti-adjunct rant but all adjuncts are not
created equal. Roasted unmalted barley is an "adjunct" that is key in dry stouts. Dark
caramelized sugar is an adjunct essential to many Belgium ales. Unmalted wheat is the key item
in making lambics. As for using corn and rice, that practice goes back to pre-Prohibition days
when beer was beer tasted far different from the macro products today..
I agree that corn and rice lighten the body of a beer and are useful in adjusting the beer's
mouthfeel and body. There's nothing wrong with that. Corn additions are commonly used in
cream ales and English bitters. Some of my favorite beers like Great Divide Samurai, Dogfish
Chateau Jiahu, and Rodenbach are made with rice. And yes, corn does provide some flavour
which is good provided it's not overdone.as in Fuller's ESB .
It's my understanding that the type of rice used by Bud/Coors/Miller is more expensive than most
of craft brewers' grain. So I don't fully buy your cheap argument. The Big Three macros are
cheap to buy not because of ingredients but because of marketing. Their beer can be sold at a
low price because they've got 90%+ market share. Economies of scale and big demand equal
Look Gina, the big guys put out products that a majority of the beer drinking nation wants. It
maximizes profits, employs tens of thousands of people pays millions in taxes etc. Don't like it
don't drink it. Fortunately being a free market capitalistic economy, somebody somewhere
realized there was a market for "good beer" Now there are thousands of craft breweries all over
the country to serve that market. That's great. However I don't begrudge the many million more
that want their mass market suds.
Most times all I want is a adjunct free craft brew but, as an alternative, on rare occasion, bring on
the adjuncts, even the cheap one. They can quench a thirst and save a wallet.
Hey, Gina, your next PBR is one me! See you next month..