What is 'beer enhancer' and will it make my beer taste better?

What is 'beer enhancer' and will it make my beer taste better?

The thing about beer is that is that there’s so much variety in style and taste but there is one thing they all have in common: 

The so called ‘mouth feel’.

If you simply brewed malt with sugar you will get a beer but your beer’s mouth feel with be closer to feeling like water.

To get an improved mouth feel, many beer brewers use an ‘enhancer’ to do exactly what it says it will do – enhance the beer

Beer enhancers are made of basic ingredients, being a mix of fermentable and non-fermentable. They usually contain a mix of dextrose and maltodextrin.

Such beer enhancers work by the dextrose being the food for the yeast and are thus used in the fermentation process. 

The Maltodextrin does not ferment and thus forms part of the beer solution giving the beer mouthfeel and a sense of body. It also has the benefit of allowing the poured beer to have a good head of foam and to retain it. 

The combination of dextrose and maltodextrin suits the lighter style beers such as pilsner, draught and lagers.

If you are brewing and ale or a beer where you desire a full maltier flavour an enhancer that also has a light dry malt extract will be what you need. This is often simply referred to as DME.

Some beer enhancers also have hops added to match the kind of beer style so if you are ordering from an online store, check that the particular enhancer's hops matches the kind of beer you are trying to make

Branded enhancers

Coopers offer two well known beer enhancers to help achieve these goals. They a simply known as Brew Enhancer 1 and Brew Enhancer 2. You can imagine the salty old brewer that came up with those names! 

Coopers include the enhancers with their beer kits but you can buy them separately too. I've often seen them in supermarkets for a reasonable price (and reviewed them!) Side note - never do a Coopers Lager without an enhancer, I have and trust me the results are rubbish.

There are some other popular enhancer brands out there too. Muntons and Copper Tun are well known and trusted by many brewers.

You may have also heard the word 'spraymalt'. Spraymalt is a specially prepared kind of DME. Drying is achieved by the use of a spraydrier, a process which produces particularly uniform powders both in terms of particle size and flavour. 

This means a spraymalt beer will be less dry than beers that simply use sugar. Or you can add spraymalt in addition to the sugar for more taste effect.

How to make your own beer enhancer

Of course you do not need to buy brew enhancer, you can make your own. 

If you going to make your own enhancer, here’s some ingredient ratios which you could use as a guide: 

Beer style
Light Beer Enhancer
Ale, more malty beer

The quantity to make is is 1Kg per 23 litre brew.

The beauty of the dextrose is that it is apparently a more favoured food of the yeast when compared to ordinary sucrose sugar and so fermentation will commence more quickly. 

Whether that makes a difference, I don't know. 

Many beer supply shops will carry the ingredients you need. That way you can get the advantage of buying in bulk so to reduce your brewing costs. 

But at what cost to my beer?

Adding a brew enhancer to your brew does add to the cost per class somewhat, however given that enhancers actually really do work (I use them every time I brew), it's my view and that of thousands of other home brewers that the taste improvement is worth it. 

If your enhancer costs 8 dollars and you make 23 litres, that’s only 35 cents extra per litre. Of course milage may vary depending on what brand and at what price you’ve purchased!

If you’re not interested in making your own enhancer but think brand name enhancers are too expensive, there is a happy medium. 

Many beer shop suppliers will do the mixing for you and sell you a 1Kg bag of no frills beer enhancer.

Alternatives to using beer enhancer

If you are making a standard brew size of 23 litres, you can use 1kg of light malt extract (spray-malt) instead of beer enhancer. You could also add a small amount of dextrose to help the yeast feed as well.

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