Spices, Sugars & Flavor… The Beginning
Additives or adjuncts are ingredients that you add other than base and specialty malts to contribute flavors. Sugars are nice because they boost your gravity but are dangerous because they can dry out your beer. Table sugar is pretty useless but specialty sugars such as maple and honey can add subtle flavors. Fruits add an amazing touch to many beers. As a bonus, they will add a bit of gravity. Fruit can be fresh, juice, dried or even pureed but it is wise to know how to use them. Spices are all about adding flavor. Be wary because spices are the quickest way to turn a beer into a drain pour.
Table Sugar: Granulated table sugar is just plain sugar adds points to gravity with no flavor additions. It drys out beer and cider but serves a purpose when you just want a gravity boost. I’ve used it in ciders with a one pound to five gallon ratio with decent results.
Corn Sugar or Priming Sugar: Serves the same purpose as table sugar for boosting gravity. Most notably used for carbonating your brews.
Dark Belgian Candi Sugar: A dark sugar refined from beets. It is a staple of Belgian style beers when higher alcohol is wanted without the maltiness. I’ve added it in few beers with noticeable additions to flavor and color. It adds a bit of burnt orange color with a bit of caramel flavor. Add it the last twenty minutes of flame out if you want it to dissolve without too much caramelization. Overall better than table sugar but too much and it will dry things out.
Dried Cherries: Dried cherries remind me of a sweeter raisin. They add quite a bit of flavor if done properly. Cherries come in sweet and sour but most dried cherries seem to be sweet. To properly use dried cherries I would suggest you add them in the last 10 minutes of flame off and transfer them to your fermenter. I sadly didn’t use mine properly and dumped them when transferring to my carboy. Beware because dried fruits will pull a ton of liquid out your batch. Compensate by adding at least a half gallon for each pound of dried fruit.
Cocoa Powder: Cocoa powder is great for adding raw chocolate flavor. I typically add a whole 8oz canister to a five gallon batch. The flavors it imparts is really good but you need to make sure to transfer your wort properly when bottling as it leaves a ton of residue. A secondary wouldn’t be a bad idea for this one.
Watch for my next edition of adjuncts once I’ve tried a few more. Check out my ingredients page for detailed information on everything from yeast to spices.