By Jeffrey Gredlein
The Beer Snob

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beer snob jeffrey gredleinIt was the Germans and their Reinheitsgebot that set a precedent for a minimalist approach to beer. This edict, also known as the “German Beer Purity Law,” decreed in 1516 that only water, barley and hops were to be used in the creation of beer. Several hundred years later, through Pasteur’s work on fermentation, the role of yeast was discovered, and that, along with wheat malt, was added to an updated act, the Provisional German Beer Law.

The English weren’t much different. They basically stuck to the main four ingredients. And while the Irish and Scottish might throw some leaves or twigs into their brew kettles, as hops were finicky in those countries, they too brewed on the straight and narrow.

It was the Belgians who struck out into ‘adjunct’ land, using different types of sugars and syrups as part of the extract. They also began brewing with a whole kitchen full of berries and fruits, veggies, spices, herbs and such.

Now, I’m not talking about the things you’ll find in your macro bottle of swill. The rice and corn, yes, these too are adjuncts, but they tend to lighten the beer’s flavor and color, giving off a hint of sweetness and not much else. No, I’m referring to the variety of additions that American craft brewers are putting in their beers today to create the ever-changing bigger and better beer — added components that actually make some beers better.

Look at the new releases as you peruse the isles. How many have additional ingredients above and beyond the trusty Fab Four? Chocolate? Everywhere! Coffee? Done. Vanilla? Certainly. Fruits and Veggies? More than you can imagine. Dozens and dozens of addition-laden beers can be found on the shelves.

You can easily spot these beers, although there’s not one set style, the Beer Judge Certification Program throws them into either the Spice/Herb/Vegetable or Fruit categories; with such and such added, or aged on blah, blah, or brewed with this and that. At one point, walking through my favorite beer store, after seeing about a dozen crazy-adjunct beers, I thought to myself, “Can’t a guy just get a plain ol’ porter?” Of course, that’s an exaggeration, the examples of classically made, ‘water, barley, hops, and yeast only’ brewed beers far outweigh those with crazy ingredients. Still, if you’re a fan of things in your beer, you’re certainly happy these days.

And, this is not a complaint; it’s just noticing a trend. With so many micro and regional breweries popping up, brewers will have to do more and push boundaries to stand out. To them I say, best of luck, show us what you got!

Truly, I’m a serious fan of beer brewed with interesting ingredients. One of my beloved beers of recent has been Ballast Point Victory at Sea, coffee and vanilla added. New Belgium’s Cocoa Molé was also fantastic, brewed with cocoa, spices, and several varieties of peppers.

Who can forget Dogfish Head, possibly the kings of brewing with exotic ingredients? Too many ‘beers with additions’ to name, I’m partial to Sah’tea, a Finnish Sahti style brewed with juniper berries and chai tea, although Saison Du BUFF with parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme was quite nice. Here’s to a wild concoction. Enjoy the brews … Cheers.

Gene's Haufbrau has at more than 200 beers in bottles or on tap. While they don't have every beer the Beer Snob writes about, they probably have most. Gene's is located at 817 Savannah Hwy. 225-GENE. E-mail the Beer Snob at