What Do They Bring

from theweeklybrew

There’s been discussion in the comments of this blog recently over corn and other adjuncts. The current belief in brewing seems to be one of corn and rice = bad beer. The truth is though that corn and rice are like any ingredient to a recipe. Used in moderation they can enhance a beers characteristics.

First let’s start off smashing the dreams of those that hate rice based beers, yet love Belgians. Many Belgians are made from invert sugar. This is just table sugar that has had it’s chemical bonds broken down. But table sugar is different from corn or rice right? Chemically yes they are. In terms of what they bring to the party they aren’t. All three ingredients are used to create a drier and lighter beer.

In an all malt beer there are residual sugars left in the beer that the yeast cannot break down. This often comes across as a sweeter taste. Also for higher alcohol all malt beers you need more malt to achieve the alcohol. This will result in a darker color. Combine the two and you have the complaint of light beer drinkers everywhere. A heavy, sweet, and thick beer. Replace some of that grain with straight sugar like in a Belgian Dubel and what do you have? A much lighter, and much drier beer.

Corn and rice are used in much the same way. Their starches are easily consumed producing alcohol without much flavor or color.  Also they are both historicly cheaper then sugar. With their availability, ease of atainment, and price they are more economical then sugar. While they suffer a bad reputation due to both the big guys using them, and the fact that early corn beers went rancid (due to corn oils), modern day brewers can achieve great results using them in moderation.

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2 Responses to “What Do They Bring”

  1. Señor Brew says:

    I don’t know about rice being cheaper than sugar, once you factor in the extra amount you need to get the same amount of sugar and/or the extra treatment it needs. A pound of sugar can be added to the boil and you’ll get 46 gravity points–bulk cane sugar is about a buck a pound, so you’re looking at about 46 points a buck. Rice flakes need to be mashed, and if you have a very efficient setup will net you about 30 points a pound. Bulk rice flakes are about 76 cents a pound, so you’re netting 39 points a buck. You could buy actual rice more cheaply (netting maybe 50 points a buck), but then you have to do a separate cereal mash to gelatinize it, meaning you’re adding extra time and energy costs in. Granted, corn flakes are cheaper, and would work out to be about the same as sugar as measured in points per dollar, but corn gives some flavor to a beer in my opinion.

    That being said, I have nothing against using rice or corn in a beer. I have used either in my Classic American Pilsners, Vienna Mexican Lagers (Negro Modela Clone), and Cream Ales, and I have been very happy with them. A couple have won ribbons in competitions.

  2. Jared says:

    Thanks for the breakdown. Ya, I was in the homebrew shop today and noticed the costs after I’d posted this. When I looked up price points this morning I was looking in the bulk amounts that a micro brewery might buy. Also I was assuming that the people who would buy sugar would go through the time and expense making invert sugar. This isn’t actually necesary though so your price points deffinatly make sense.

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