Oats, Wheat, and Rye in Beer – What Grains Add to Beer

Traditionally, most brewers choose barley as the main ingredient because its kernels quickly turn starch into fermentable sugars, making it ideal for brewing. However, today, some brewers add grains such as oats, wheat, and rye to the barley mash. So, what do grains such as oat, wheat, and rye add to the beer?

Oats, wheat, and rye are used in brewing as adjunct grains. The work of such grains is to supplement the main mash ingredient, such as barley. Using oats, wheat, or rye as adjuncts in your beer adds flavor and texture to the beer and adds a twist to its appearance.

This article will discuss how different grains affect beer’s taste, texture, and appearance. I’ll also discuss the various forms of oats, wheat, and rye you can use in your beers and the types of beers you can make using oats, wheat, or rye adjuncts. Let’s dive right in. 

How Different Grains Affect the Taste of Beer

As I mentioned earlier, most brewers choose barley as the primary grain in the mash. However, you can experiment with different beer recipes if you love brewing beer at home. For instance, you can add adjuncts to the barley mash. 

Adjuncts are unmalted grains that partly supplement the barley mash. For instance, you can add oats, wheat, or rye to your barley mash. Oats, wheat, and rye are great adjuncts as they affect the beer’s final taste, as explained below.

How Oats Affect the Taste of Beer

You probably think of the famous, healthy breakfast food when you think of oats. However, oats are versatile, and many home brewers use oats as brewing adjuncts. Oats have gums, starches, waxes, fats, and proteins, so when you use oats in brewing, they affect the beer’s taste. 

Here’s how oats affect the taste of beer:

  • Oats give the beer a subtle sweetness. Since oats have high levels of waxes and fats (lipids), the oats release the lipids during the mashing process. The lipids give the beer a subtle touch of sweetness that makes it easy to drink. 
  • Oats give the beer a rich taste. The proteins and starches in oats are released during the brewing process. They provide the beer a rich flavor. The rich taste is quite refreshing, making each mouthful enjoyable. 
  • Oats give the beer an oily slickness. Since oats contain gums and starches, they remain in the beer after fermentation. So, as you sip the beer, you perceive an oily slickness in your mouth.  

How Wheat Affects the Taste of Beer

As you know, the primary function of wheat is the production of pasta and bread. However, you can also use wheat as a brewing adjunct. Wheat contains proteins and has a soft texture; when you add it to the barley mash, it affects the taste of the beer in various ways.  

Below is how wheat affects the taste of beer:

  • Wheat gives the beer a remarkable flavor. When you mix wheat with barley during the brewing process, the end product is a wheat beer with a remarkable flavor. The taste is crisp and soft due to wheat’s naturally smooth texture. 
  • Wheat gives the beer a lightly sweet taste. Wheat contains proteins, and when you use it in brewing, the proteins provide the beer a lightly sweet taste. The taste makes the beer really enjoyable and refreshing. 

How Rye Affects the Taste of Beer

Rye is an adjunct you can add to your barley mash to give a twist to your beer. Rye has a higher protein percentage than other grains and is hull-less. It’s best to add a small amount of rye (about 10%) to the mash to prevent the mash from clumping up and turning to concrete. 

When you add rye to your beer mash, it affects the beer’s taste in different ways.

Below is how rye affects the taste of beer:

  • Rye sharpens the beer’s flavor: When you add rye to the mash, you get a beer with a sharp taste that is almost spicy and crispy.
  • Rye adds complexity to the beer’s flavor: Rye also adds complexity to the beer giving it a refreshing taste that is sort of rustic and tangy. 

How Different Grains Affect the Texture of Beer

Adjunct grains like oats, wheat, and rye don’t only affect the taste of your beer but also play with the beer’s texture. So, when you add any of these grains to your beer mash, the final product has a different texture. Below is how various grains affect the texture of beer:

How Oats Affect the Texture of the Beer

Oats have gums and beta-glucans, which they release into the mash during brewing. The beer’s texture is affected when the oats release the gums and beta-glucans. Here’s how oats affect the texture of beer:

  • Oats give the beer a thick texture. The gums in the mash provide the beer a thick, smooth, and creamy texture. 
  • Oats give the beer a silky mouthfeel. The high contents of beta-glucans in the oats give the beer a silky mouthfeel. The silky mouthfeel the oats give to your beer creates a delightful sensation in your mouth. 

How Wheat Affects the Texture of the Beer

Wheat is usually a smooth grain, and when you use it as an adjunct in beer, it affects the beer’s texture in different ways.

Here’s how wheat affects the texture of beer:

  • Wheat gives the beer a smooth texture. Since this grain is soft, it gives the beer a smooth texture. The smoothness of the beer makes it easy to drink. 
  • Wheat increases the body of the beer. Wheat has protein, and when you add it to the mash, it increases the body of the beer giving you more mouthfeel.

How Rye Affects the Texture of the Beer

Rye has more protein content than barley. So, when you add a small percentage of rye to your beer mash, it affects the texture of the beer in various ways, as explained below.

  • Rye gives the beer chewy mouthfeel. Adding a small amount of rye to your mash provides the beer with a chewy and filling mouthfeel. 
  • Rye adds a smoothness to beer. Rye also adds an easygoing smoothness to your beer. 

How Different Grains Affect the Appearance of Beer

Adding adjunct grains such as oats, wheat, or rye to barley mash affects the beer’s flavor, texture, and appearance. Each can affect the beer’s appearance differently, as explained below.

How Oats Affect the Appearance of the Beer

When you add oats to barley mash, they can affect the way the beer looks. As I mentioned earlier, oats are high-protein grains. So, when you add oats to the beer mash, the final product can be a hazy beer or a beer with a cloudy appearance. 

How Wheat Affects the Appearance of the Beer

Wheat contains a high amount of protein, and adding it to beer during the brewing process affects its appearance in various ways.

Here’s how wheat affects the appearance of beer: 

  • Wheat gives the beer a fluffy appearance. When you add this grain to beer, the end product is a beer with a fluffy appearance.
  • Wheat gives a stable foam. The protein in wheat contributes significantly to foam stability. Therefore, a longer-lasting beer head is one of the signatures of beers with wheat adjunct. 
  • Wheat can give the beer a hazy appearance. If you add a large proportion of wheat to your beer, the protein in the grain can give the beer a hazy or cloudy appearance. 

How Rye Affects the Appearance of the Beer

As I mentioned earlier, rye is a grain that is loaded with protein. When you add rye as an adjunct to beer, the protein gives the beer a hazy appearance. In other words, the beer may look cloudy in a pleasing way. 

Different Forms of Oats, Wheat, and Rye You Can Add to Beer

If you’d like to experiment with beer adjuncts such as oats, wheat, and rye, there are different forms to choose from. Below are the various forms of oats, wheat, and rye to select from when brewing beer:

Different Forms of Oats You Can Use in Your Beer

If you’d like to add oats to your beer mash, there are different forms of oats to choose from. 

Below are the various forms of oats you can use in your beer:

  • Malted oats. These oats have large and thick husks and a small grain inside. When the husks crack open, the oats release a silky smoothness that is great for your beer.
  • Whole Oat Groats. The other name for grain kernels is groats. When you harvest oats, clean them, and remove the inedible hulls, you get whole oat groats. You can get whole oat groats for brewing from your local health food stores. 
  • Flaked Oats. These are instant oats and are the easiest to get as you can buy them from the supermarket. They are ideal for adding to your mash directly, as they’ve already gone through starch gelatinization. Starch Gelatinization is a process that dissolves the starch granule in water permanently.  

Different Forms of Oats You Can Use in Your Beer

Suppose you want to use wheat as an adjunct in your beer. In that case, you’ve several forms of wheat to choose from.

Below are the forms of wheat you can use in your beer:

  • Malted wheat. Most wheat used in brewing is malted. This means you steep the grain in cold water, allow it to germinate, then dry it carefully (kiln). 
  • Flaked wheat. Flaked wheat isn’t malted. It requires no milling and is, therefore, easier to use. You can add it directly to the barley malt/mash. 
  • Wheat extract. This is usually malted wheat in the form of syrup. You add it to the barley mash during the brewing process. 
  • Wheat flour. Some brewers use ordinary, soft wheat flour as an adjunct to beer. This kind of wheat is easy to use, as you simply mix it well with your crushed malt. 

Different Forms of Rye You Can Use in Your Beer

If you want to add rye as an adjunct to your beer, there are several rye forms to choose from. 

Below are the different forms of rye you could use in your brew:

  • Rye malt. This is usually the standard ingredient used by rye brewers as an adjunct. You can crush it like other malted grains or mill it separately to get a fine crush. 
  • Chocolate rye malt. This is roasted rye malt with notes of chocolate. It’s made using top-quality rye. 
  • Flaked rye. This rye doesn’t need milling as it has already been heated and pressed through some rollers. You can therefore add it directly to your barley mash. 
  • Cararye malt. This rye passes through a unique process that converts sugar into caramel, giving the rye a complex and intense aroma. Cararye malt is made using the best quality German rye. 

Types of Beers You Can Make Using Oats, Wheat, or Rye

You can make various beers using adjunct grains like oat, wheat, or rye.

Below are examples of the types of beers you can brew using these adjuncts:

Types of Beers You Can Make Using Oats Adjunct

Oats are great additions to dark beers such as:

  • Stout 
  • Porter
  • Hazy IPAs

Types of Beers You Can Brew Using Wheat Adjunct

Wheat is excellent as an adjunct in beers like:

  • Blonde ales
  • Golden ales

Types of Beers You Could Brew Using Rye Adjunct

Since rye has a unique flavor profile, it’s an excellent adjunct in complex beers such as:

  • IPAs 
  • Stouts
  • Pale ales

Final Thoughts

When you master the basics of beer brewing, you can experiment with adjuncts such as oats, wheat, and rye in your beer. Suppose you add these adjuncts to your mash; they’ll give your beer a new, exciting twist. As you continue experimenting with these grains, you’ll slowly perfect the art of using them in brewing. 

Oats, wheat, and rye behave differently when you add them to your barley mash. They have one thing in common: they tweak your beer by playing around with the flavor, texture, and appearance. These adjuncts can definitely make your brewing experience rewarding.

About HomeBrewAdvice

Hello, my name is Simon. Together with a group of writers I write about brewing beer and making wine. We all share a passion for the great things in life, such as making stuff from scratch.

The business of HomeBrewAdvice is to bring you great information, stories and product reviews from brewing at home, and making wine


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