The Basics of Creating Your Own Recipe

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The Basics of Creating Your Own Recipe

Post by BIABrewer » 7 years ago

[Like all, "The Basics," in the General Brewing Skills section, the following is not a definitive guide. It is simply a guide that will get a new brewer under way safely and with confidence. Please advise BIABrewer of any errors. Please justify, in full, any contrary topics that you may choose to start in this forum. If well-written and justified, they will be, "promoted," as best as we are able.]
All brewers, new and experienced, are encouraged to start new topics in this section provided they have read the below. The Basics of Recipe Formulation
by Lloyd Powell (LloydieP)
There comes a time when most brewers want to start formulating their own recipes. At this stage you've probably had some experience adjusting existing recipes to fit your system and/or your palette. Easily available software makes adjusting and building recipes very simple. Beersmith's inbuilt BJCP guidelines are a very useful 'roadmap' to help you brew to a certain style. Let's face it though, we're mostly brewing beer that WE (and our FRIENDS) want to drink. Most people couldn't rattle off the style guidelines for a "Classic Rauchbier", so unless you're brewing competitively (either with yourself or for organised comps), style guidelines don't need to be followed zealously.

There are a few easily identifiable parts to a beer recipe;

1. Grain bill
2. Mash
3. Hop schedule
4. Fermentation

Your knowledge of grains, mashing, hops, yeast and fermentation, to some degree, will govern the choices you have when building a recipe. However just reading suppliers information you have some idea, about what effect certain ingredients or processes will have on your recipe.

You don't need a complex recipe to make an excellent beer. ONE grain and ONE hop will produce a great beer! So let's start with a really simple example recipe formulation. I will post the longhand calculations further on for those who are interested. I would recommend learning to work out malts, OGs, hops and IBUs the "longhand" way, to get a feel for what your software is telling you, as different software will give you slightly different figures.
Formulating a Very Basic Recipe Let's make a super simple AMERICAN PALE ALE.

It's a PALE ALE so you'll need pale ale malt
It's an AMERICAN pale ale so you'll need American hops
It's an APA so you'll need an APA yeast

Just looking at the multitude of existing recipes we know that you can make a beer that is,
1.050 OG
35 IBU
With American hops
and it will indeed be an APA.

To keep it simple you'll be doing a Single Malt And Single Hop (SMASH) brew.
(I have 19 litre kegs so I'd need around 20 litres of wort in my fermenter. I generally have about 5 litres of trub left in my kettle, so my post boil volume would need to be 25litres.)

1. Grain Bill.

Beersmith and/or my calculator tell me you'll need (for my 72% efficiency), 5.65kg of malt.

2. Mash

You'll probably want a medium bodied beer, so you should mash at around 65C for at least 60 minutes.

3. Hop Schedule

Taste and aroma, and bitterness are two different things. So ignore the a/a% of your chosen hop, for your flavour and aroma additions and think about the weight. You'll no doubt, by now, have some idea how much you'll need, from previous recipes. Plug these into your calculator first to get their total IBU.

Let's say you're adding 30 grams of Amarillo (8%aa) at 15 minutes and 30 grams at 5 minutes. This will give you about 12 IBU, so you need 23 IBU from your 60 minute addition. This means you'll need around 25 grams.

4. Fermentation

You're probably familiar with US-05 American ale yeast (so I'll use that for example)

Although there is dedicated section on Biabrewer for fermentation, different processes and rest types form an important part of your recipe. Different yeasts make different beers and require different conditions, and the same yeast will behave differently under different conditions. Some need a good diacetyl rest, some need more conditioning than others, some attenuate higher than others and some flocculate more quickly than others. So even with a very simple SMASH recipe there is a huge amount of choice in how you ferment and condition your beer. This recipe however, is not too strong or bitter, so you could crash chill it for a day or so after it's reached final gravity, force carb it, and be pouring pints of nice beer, a week or so after brewday!

5. Our Final Recipe

Our recipe would look something like this,

5.65 kg Pale ale malt
60 minute single step mash at 65C
25g Amarillo 60min
30g Amarillo 15min
30g Amarillo 5min
Ferment 18C

Easy!
Formulating a More Complex Recipe Now we'll follow the same simple steps, but explore some more choices. First of all, you need a basic description. For consistency's sake let's do another APA with a nice malty backbone to support some big hop flavour.

1.050 OG
40 IBU - Not too bitter, but lots of hop flavour and aroma!
25 Litre Volume

1. Grain Bill

You'll want about 5% crystal (it's a good a number as any) to add body, and a good chance to add some real complexity to the malt profile. Some nice bitter caramel flavour from dark crystal will go nicely with a big hop profile, as would some sweeter caramel flavour from medium crystal. You don't want to push the colour too much so, say 2% dark and 3% medium. You could now just use 95% pale ale malt, or use a blend of lighter and darker malts, to add yet more complexity to the malt profile. Perhaps a blend of pilsner malt and darker Munich malt. Maybe you could add some wheat malt for head retention. (See this grain guide) So your grain bill might look like this,

5.65 kg total
2% Dark crystal 110g
3% Medium crystal 170g
5% Wheat malt 280g
30% Munich I 1700g
60% Pilsner malt 4000g

2. Mash

For a darker beer such as this you need not worry too much about a protein rest or an acid rest. So you can go straight to the conversion rest.

As you're going to be using Wyeast 1187 Ringwood Ale Yeast which is a low attenuating yeast but gives a lovely malty flavour, you'll need to mash a little lower to give you a similar body. 63-64C should be plenty. You may want to include a mash out which will increase the solubility of the sugars and make your sweet liquor less viscous, which will improve your efficiency. If you leave the bag in while raising the temp to mash-out you'll dissolve some un-gelatinised starches and allow the remaining alpha enzymes to convert them to fermentable sugars, and again increasing your efficiency.
So your mash regime might look like this...

Mash in at 64C for 90 minutes
Raise slowly to 78C (bag in) to mash out for 10 minutes

3. Hop Schedule

I've talked a lot about the complexity of the malt profile, and now I'm going to talk about the complexity of the hop profile. To achieve this you'll need more than one hop, and you'll need to layer the additions to make the most of the flavour and aroma of these hops. This hop schedule is known as a hopburst. This means that the earliest addition is only 20 minutes from the end of the boil, and additions will be made every five minutes until flameout. So again you need to work backwards to tally your IBUs.

As you know Galaxy and Nelson are a great combination although neither are American, they pack a flavour punch as though they were. Just mix the two together in a bowl and measure them out into 25g lots. Let's go...

0 minute addition 25g Galaxy/Nelson (average aa%12.5)
5 minute addition 25g Galaxy/Nelson (12.5%aa) 6IBU
10 minute addition 25g Galaxy/Nelson (12.5%aa) 7IBU
15 minute addition 25g Galaxy/Nelson (12.5%aa) 10IBU
So now you need 17IBUs from your 20 minute addition

So you'll need 34g of your Galaxy/Nelson blend. Any left overs you have may make a nice dry hop addition.

4. Fermentation

1187 Ringwood Ale yeast is a fickle creature, but as the most used yeast in the commercial craft brewing industry in America, it is worth the effort. You will lose some of your hop zest, but your large hop additions will compensate for this, and the nice chewy malt flavours it gives you will give you a well balanced beer.

Wyeast's packet info recommends a good diacetyl rest, so once FG has been reached, you'll want to raise the temp to the higher recommended temp of 22C for a couple of days to keep the yeast active so it can clean up and re-absorb it's fermentation by-products. After this a secondary fermentation at its original ferment temp will allow the complex malt/hop flavours to smooth out.

A further week of cold conditioning will also smooth out some of the 'un-desired' yeast driven flavours. At this point your APA will reach it's peak, as the hop profile will start to fade and the malt profile will start to dominate.

5. Our Final Recipe

Our recipe would look something like this...

5.65 kg total
2% Dark crystal 110g
3% Medium crystal 170g
5% Wheat malt 280g
30% Munich I 1700g
60% Pilsner malt 4000g

Mash in at 64C for 90 minutes
90 minute boil
Raise temp slowly to 78C (bag in) and hold for 10 minutes

20 min 34g Galaxy/Nelson blend (12.5%aa)
15 min 25g Galaxy/Nelson blend
10 min 25g Galaxy/Nelson blend
5 min 25g Galaxy/Nelson blend
0 min 25g Galaxy/Nelson blend
Dry hop 50g Galaxy/Nelson blend

Ferment at 18C.
After FG is reached raise to 22C for three days.
Secondary for two weeks at 18C
Cold condition for one week.
Conclusion With these few basic steps and the confidence they bring, Recipe Formulation can be as easy or as difficult as YOU wish to make it. It comes down to your knowledge of ingredients and processes.

A picture speaks a thousand words, as the saying goes but how many pictures of a glass of beer is one mouthful worth? Don't be afraid to experiment...

Split a batch into two and ferment them with two different yeasts or at two different temps. For a smaller risk but just as much gain, use a two litre Coke bottle as your second fermenter. Do a SMASH with nothing but Munich or Vienna malt just to see what it tastes like. Formulate recipes you're never going to brew just for fun. If it's German Yeast and German Malt and German Hops then why wouldn't it be a German Beer? Read up on some specs for a particular type, and you've just designed and produced a fair dinkum Munich Dunkel or Bohemian Pilsner!
Recommended Reading Designing Great Beers
by Ray Daniels

Radical Brewing
by Randy Mosher

Brewing Classic Styles
by J. Palmer and Jamil Zainasheff
All brewers, new and experienced, are encouraged to start new topics in this section provided they have read the above.
Last edited by BIABrewer on 28 Mar 2010, 14:41, edited 11 times in total.

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