For those of us who enjoy properly-crafted ales and lagers, the word adjunct is one that’s dirtier than Snookie after a date with a bottle of Jagermeister. The very notion of “poisoning” a beer with corner-cutting ingredients is sacrilege. Well, it turns out that there’s a lot of craft and import beer out there that we all seem to enjoy that does precisely that.
First, a little explanation on what adjunct really is. Any unmalted additive to the beer recipe is technically an adjunct ingredient. Those watery macro-brews being churned out by the ultra-mega-hyper-silo per hour are able to do so by throwing in inexpensive adjunct grain to their wort: corn and rice, primarily. Minimize the hop presence and give very little care to balance and you’ve got yourself a sweet-flavored bottle of yellow carbonation that costs little to sell. Low cost equals lots of sales equals being able to call oneself a member of royal hierarchy amongst other ale and lager.
I don’t know about you, but I prefer my corn on the cob, not in the bottle. If I wanted to taste rice, I’d go find a Chinese restaurant.
American craft brewers and traditional European producers aren’t 100% guilt-free in this matter, only they utilize adjunct ingredients in a proper fashion to enhance their beverage and not to improve the bottom line of the ledger. By definition, lambic ale can be considered an adjunct due to the presence of macerated fruit or even fruit extract. All of these weird-o, hybrid and experimental craft beers make use of adjunct even more so.
There’re some who throw a little extra unmalted wheat, even rye, into the beer for a little spell. More often than not it’s stuff like coffee, herbs, chocolate and syrups that qualify them for adjunct status. Come at me with a highbrow espresso-maple-bacon imperial stout with flaked oatmeal? Guess what? You’re an adjunct!
I mentioned lambic a moment ago. I have much love for real lambic but the price tag is usually in the “I’ll have one on a special occasion” range. Instead, I’ll satisfy my thirst with the Wild Raspberry Ale from Great Divide. All natural red and black raspberries go into this year-round production giving the beer a terrific ruby-reddish- to-brown color with light pink highlights around the head. A deep aroma of raspberries, naturally, greets you with very soft scents of flowers, rich malt and a hint of soft red wine (think Santa Barbara pinot noir). The barest touch of hops show up after the palate delivers a crisp shot of berry accompanied by mild caramel malt.
Fruity, flavorful and thirst-quenching; Wild Raspberry shows that we need to take the idea of adjunct on a case by case basis.