What are Beer Adjuncts?

You don’t have to dig far into learning about beer to start hearing the term adjunct.  Brewers use a blend of adjuncts to create unique flavors and styles of beer.  Once you understand what beer adjuncts do, you will be able to picture what a beer will taste like based on the ingredients before taking your first sip.

By definition, an adjunct is something extra–an element that is added or joined as an accompanying object or circumstance.  So to understand what a beer adjunct is, you need to know what the standard ingredients of beer are.  Anything outside of these four ingredients is an adjunct.

beer adjunctsThe Four Main Ingredients in Beer

To make beer, you need four ingredients:  malts (or grains), hops, yeast, and water.  You don’t have a beer if one of those ingredients is missing.  It’s a pretty simple recipe.  Hops are responsible for the flavor, while the malts provide the sugar that, when combined with yeast, becomes alcohol.  Brewers can do a lot by adjusting the type of malts and hops they use to create widely different types of beer.  However, adjuncts will take the beer to a whole new level.

Introducing Beer Adjuncts

Beer adjuncts bring out qualities in the beverage the brewer wants to emphasize in a blend.  Adjuncts can be added throughout the process, from the beginning wort to fermentation or final bottling.  Depending on the kind of adjunct, the beer will have a different color, flavor, ABV, or mouthfeel.

Examples of Beer Adjuncts


It’s common for brewers to add additional sources of sugar to a batch.  For example, adding honey is an age-old technique to increase the beer’s alcohol content (ABV).  Other examples of adjunct sugars include molasses, caramel, and molasses.  

When a sugar that doesn’t ferment is added, it will also adjust the flavor of the beer.  A popular example are milkshake beers or milk stouts containing lactose.  Lactose is the sugar found in milk and will not ferment during brewing.  As a result, the beverage will have a sweeter flavor and smoother mouthfeel than other beers.


Take a walk down the beer aisle at the grocery store or simply stop by The Growler Guys, and you’ll find a full range of beer styles and flavors.  Some breweries have developed creative blends resembling desserts like cake or pie, while others boast savory concoctions with notes of mushroom or toast.

Chocolate, vanilla, and coffee are three beer adjuncts often used to create darker blends with more decadent flavors.  Brewers might use ground beans or add syrups to achieve these flavors.  These flavors are typical in porters and stouts.  

Fruits add flavor, color, and sugar to a beer, impacting the final product’s taste and ABV.  Grapes, apples, raspberries, cherries, and mangos are popular fruit adjuncts.  You’ll often find adjuncts like these in lagers, sours, and wheat beers.

Of course, herbs and spices are used in beer just like they are in cooking and baking.  For example, winter beers often contain allspice, ginger, and nutmeg to create a “pumpkin spice” flavor.  


It may seem strange that someone would add bacteria to a beverage, but it’s all a part of the brewing process.  Bacteria impact the fermentation process and can create unusual or sour flavors.  

Learn more about beer with a visit to The Growler Guys.

Explore the growing variety of beers in one taproom, The Growler Guys.  Each location carries the best local varieties, from the palest ales to the darkest stouts, along with ciders and kombucha.  Our friendly staff is happy to walk you through the characteristics of every style to help you discover your personal favorites.  Take home the beers you love best in a growler to share with family and friends.  View our online tap list to learn about the available selections at a location near you.

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