I've heard of beers such as our local brand in the Philippines and this one, and though I haven't sampled them yet, I am quite curious: how do you add flavor to beer? I've drank a few style of beers but I haven't dealt with any "flavored". As I'm not familiar with the brewing process yet, I want to know how as I don't think it's as simple as adding a syrup on the beer after brewing.

7 Answers 7


Ok, so the basic brewing process is this (not homebrewing detail here, just a distant overview):

Heat your wort with water, steep, then add hops and boil, add more hops as you begin to cool, once cool enough add yeast, ferment, bottle.

Flavored beers can be made a bunch of different ways. You can add herbs, spices, or flavorings before or after the boil, for example. Seeds and roots would usually be added before the boil; herbs would usually be added after. I would probably add fruit after but this is something that folks could argue about forever. If you buy something like smoke-flavored beer, chili flavored beer, etc. these are probably made this way.

There's a second type of flavored beer I have seen for sale in certain bars and restaurants in Asia though. That's where you take a fairly light beer on tap and add it to a glass along with a shot of flavoring syrup (like lychee or peach). These usually have sweeter flavor with clearer fruit flavors than the fermented fruit beers. If the beer is pasteurized, the flavoring could be added before bottling and carbonation. I think that is what you are seeing.

  • 3
    Typically, adjuncts (fancy term for extra things added) added during the boiling process are trying to have soluble things extracted from them and tend to appear as "hints of X." If you want the flavor to be prominent, the adjuncts are added during the fermentation process (called dry-hopping but can be done with things other than hops). You can of course, add oranges (for example) in the boiling AND fermentation phases. I have even seen people place additives in a french press, pour the beer in, and then press the beer into a glass.
    – BryceH
    Jan 23, 2014 at 18:25
  • Don't forget that the bittering plant used is not always hops: Bog myrtle, (stinging) nettles and a few other weird and wonderful botanicals are used. In fact both of the above were widely used in the UK before hops were introduced.
    – MD-Tech
    May 29, 2014 at 9:09

The Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Maple Bacon Ale is an interesting example because the ingredients list shows two different ways flavors can be imparted to beer. The smoky bacon flavor comes both from the actual inclusion of bacon and from the smoked malt: Briess Cherrywood Smoked Malt, Weyermann Beechwood Smoked Malt, House-smoked Hickory Malt. As discussed in Does chocolate stout contain real chocolate?, certain flavors can be achieved through the malting process rather than through additional ingredients. Similarly maple is fermentable and could be added directly to boost alcohol content and impart a more subtle maple flavor.

That said, this beer does contain actual bacon and "maple flavor". To get a look at and when and how the flavors are added, we can look at this clone recipe.

Name              Amount     Time        Use
Fenugreek         0.25 oz    5.0 min     Boil
Maple Extract     1.0 oz     6.0 days    Primary
Bacon, cooked     4.0 oz     0.0 days    Bottle

Here, fenugreek is added during the boil phase, while creating the wort. The boiling helps extract the flavor from the herb. Maple extract gets added later during fermentation. Maple extract or syrup could be used, but syrup is more expensive and fermentable so a stronger maple flavor is being achieved with extract. The official ingredient list calls for "Pure Maple Flavoring" so I assume the same is being done there. Lastly the bacon is being added at the end. This is to add direct flavoring to the beer without interfering in the fermentation process.

  • 1
    Thanks for the detailed take on the Maple Bacon beer! I am quite curious more on it than the fruit-flavored ones.
    – IBG
    Jan 25, 2014 at 4:39
  • BTW, Fenugreek is used as seed rather than herb form, which is why it is added during the boil phase. Jan 25, 2014 at 5:21
  • WOW, I had never heard of bacon in beer before, probably not for me, but very interesting. Feb 24, 2017 at 3:51

Some types of hops have interesting flavors. For example, simcoe hops has a pine-y, fruity taste.

Some interesting beer ideas would be pine, rosemary, or cardamom (I've had one - it was amazing).

Also, some white beers (like Hoegaarden) have coriander and citrus peel.


There is whole style of beer, which is made with honey. It is made by adding honey to the wort during or before fermentation. Thanks to addition of honey in early stages you get balanced, homogeneous taste. Nothing to add that honey will ferment along with malt.

Technically you can add anything to beer when it is ready (including honey), but then you get this aggressive flavor on top.


I would like to add that although I have not confirmed it I read somewhere the purity laws had less to do with "making great beer" and more to do with them being poor. They didn't want certain grains or things being used for beer as it drove up the price of bread and other foods. In the following article it is states they didn't want to waste valuable grains for beer: April 23, 1516: Bavaria Cracks Down on Beer Brewers.


I just add it at the secondary fermentation stage when I homebrew beer. I made a belgian style wheat beer and simply added some vanilla extract.

edit : I just added some cloves to a dark beer brew when decanting it out of my fermentation vessel. Worked very well. Additions don't need to be a liquid.


Just a fun fact: Some consider if you add something other than hops, malt, water and yeast to beer, it is no longer technically a beer according to German purity law. What you have is a malt beverage. (You can see this in the small print on malt beverages such as SweetWater Blue for example)

Sweet Water Brewing Company

Sweet Water Brewing Company Label

Edit: (This is controversial and certainly not enforced)

There are tons of flavors you can impart based on the types of hops and malts you use and when you add them in the brewing process.

When boiling the wort, you can add hops to impart flavor midway through the process. If you add them at the beginning, you get bitterness primarily from the hops. If you add them at the end, you get primarily aroma from the hops.

It is common practice to add hops in all 3 stages for those reasons.

There's also a lot of flavor that you can add to the beer by aging it in barrels. It is common to use barrels from whiskey or bourbon for this purpose among craft brewers. This can add a huge punch of flavor in some beers. (This may be happening on in the Rogue beer you linked to)

  • That is just in Germany though. It is still beer everywhere else.
    – BryceH
    Jan 23, 2014 at 18:20
  • You're referring to the Reinheitsebot - the German purity laws established in 1516. Even then, they were controversial, and their application to the rest of Germany in the late 19th century endangered a number of prominent and ancient traditions of spiced beers. While some breweries adhere to the purity laws as a point of pride, they are, as established originally, largely defunct, and certainly it doesn't account for the Sweetwater label you see... Jan 23, 2014 at 18:28
  • In that case, the term Malt Beverage is actually an American term of art invented to encompass Beer in jurisdictions where 'beer' was in some way pejorative or bad for the industry image, or to refer to various low-alcohol flavored beverages that are served as 'beer alternatives', such as Mike's Hard Lemonade, or Smirnoff Ice. Jan 23, 2014 at 18:30
  • @LessPop_MoreFizz I'm not aware of any legal designation or requirement, by those standards I'm sure it is all still seen as beer and I think what you said is right, adherence to the Reinheitsebot is purely a point of pride, but I do believe that is why they label their Blue label as they do (I'm citing the employee that gave the tour) I've edited my post to reflect that this is controversial and not in any way enforced.
    – bandy
    Jan 23, 2014 at 18:51
  • 2
    Part of the reason why you have a malt beverage label though is that you have a bunch of traditional malt liquors that are fermented without either hops or gruit. My favorite to make actually is ebulon, which is malt and elderberries, no hops or gruit, traditionally fermented in wood. My experiments show that without the wood it tastes like a berry beer, but with the wood, it is... amazing. This was one of the most popular early American drinks btw. Jan 24, 2014 at 3:03

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