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Adjuncts are ingredients such as corn, rice, rye, oats, barley and wheat used in brewing beer which supplement the main pale malt in the mash and can enhance or ruin your recipe, depending on how much and what you use. Here are some of the more common adjuncts and what you should look out for when considering using them.

Please note though that the list of things you can add to your beers is endless... fruit, herbs, spices, cordials and flowers are often used by the more adventurous brewers. An old recipe calls for various parts of a cockerel to be used, and a recent beer festival exhibited a fine tasting beer that included mushy peas!


Amber Malt - Sold as an alternative to Crystal Malt and some brewers feel this is outstanding in darker beers such as porters. For what it’s worth, I disagree. Use no more than 20% of total grain bill.

Black Malt - Essential when brewing porters and stouts. Use no more than 10% of total grain bill.

Brown Malt - Used purely for colouring, not flavouring. As stated elsewhere on this site, who cares what colour it is as long as it’s brilliantly clear and gorgeous? (Okay, porters and stouts have to be ruby red and black respectively, but you know what we mean...)

Carafa Special Malt - Excellent dark beers are made with this; adds aroma, colour, body, smoothness, in fact it does everything but wake you up with a cup of tea in the morning. It’s ‘full on’ though, so use sparingly; no more than 5% of total grain bill.

an early Drinking Awareness campaign...

Chocolate Malt - Unsurprisingly is used to impart a chocolate flavour, so you might want to consider this when brewing certain brown ales or porters. Use sparingly though - no more than 5% of the total grain bill. Personally I’ve had a few ‘chocolate beers’ over the years and I don’t believe chocolate and beer is a good mix, but each to their own.

Crystal Malt - The classic adjunct as far as British brewers are concerned, adding an understated sweetness and rounding of flavour to bitters. There is disagreement over the maximum amount to be used; some brewers advocate 20% of the total grain bill. I recommend 10%. Experiment and tell me where I’m going wrong.

Crystal Rye Malt - Lends to your beer a dry toffee and liquorice flavour. In my humble opinion though anyone who wants to drink beer with a dry toffee and liquorice flavour needs to be taken somewhere and have their bumps felt. Use no more than 10% of the total grain bill if this bizarre idea really does float your boat.


Flaked Maize - As you might guess, this gives a corn flavour to a beer when used sparingly - no more than 10% of total grain bill.

Flaked Rice - At first glance, rice is not a natural ingredient when brewing beer, but this is used as a substitute whenever a recipe calls for added sugar; it is almost flavourless, it adds body without darkening the beer, and the fact that it has a low nitrogen content means it assists in clearing the beer.

Melanoidin Malt - Used in darker beers to round off flavours. Can be overwhelming. Maximum is 20% of total grain bill but try using sparingly. Good stuff when used properly.

Munich Malt - Although mostly used to brew beers that are associated with Munich, it can also be used in small quantities (ie 5% of total grain bill) to enhance the maltiness in other beer styles. A few British breweries use this as an adjunct in their bitters.

Roasted Barley Malt - Used to impart a slightly bitter, burnt taste, which tastes a lot nicer than it sounds! Used a lot in Irish stouts, apparently. Use no more than 5% of total grain bill.

Rolled Oats - A must when brewing Oatmeal Stout but disagreement exists as to maximum amounts to use - some brewers recommend 30% of total grain bill. I recommend half that amount. Trouble can arise if using too much rolled oats as they can lead to a ‘stuck’ sparge - ie without getting too technical, the holes in your mash tun get clogged up and nothing comes out when you open up the tap. (If this happens get your big spoon out and start digging!!!)

what to do when the Combine Harvester's broken

Smoked Rauch Malt - Used in the excellent smoked beers from Germany. Depending on what recipe you are brewing and which brewer you listen to, maximum use can be as high as 100% of the total grain bill. I suggest you consider using 15% on your first brew of a recipe, note the extent of the smokey flavour in your Tasting Notes and develop your ideas from there. 100% could be horribly overwhelming.

Torrified Wheat - And not 'Terrified Wheat' as one online shop once described it! Torrified cereals are produced by heating the grain, which makes the endosperm expand and pop, which makes the starch in the cereal 'pregelatinized' and easily milled (crushed). What's 'pregelatinized' mean? It's a process that renders the starch (sugars that the yeast feeds on) in the wheat instantly accessible - water soluble and as it doesn't need extra 'cooking', it can be addeed straight to the mash. Torrified Wheat is used wherever head retention is a must when brewing bitters. Use no more than 10% of total grain bill.

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