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Old 01-09-2009, 10:35 PM   #1
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Default Recipes: Is this rocket science?

I have been playing around quite a bit with BrewSmith. If I take an established recipe (say from Brewing Classic Styles) and modify it, how likely am I to end up with something bad? If I keep the OG/FG the same, but change to a partial boil with late extract additions, or change from liquid extract to dried extract (again keeping the OG the same), will the beer come reasonably close to the original?

I'm not talking about wholesale changes (different hops/yeast for example). I figure that as long as I stay close, it will still be beer and still be drinkable, right?

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Old 01-09-2009, 10:43 PM   #2
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I have been playing with several recipes with BeerSmith lately... mainly, lining up future brews...
Converting All Grain into partial mash, etc...
After several plays, I think you just have to make sure you have the right ratio for you base malt, special malt, and hop to make the FG, IBU, Color the same...
You should be able to duplicate one for any batch size....

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Old 01-10-2009, 12:39 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jldc View Post
I'm not talking about wholesale changes (different hops/yeast for example). I figure that as long as I stay close, it will still be beer and still be drinkable, right?
Even if you don't stay close, it will still be beer for sure, and most likely drinkable as well :-)

It's really pretty hard to mess beer up. If you change a recipe, the result might be less tasty, but it might also be delicious. After all, every one of those classic styles once started with a single brewer thinking "hmm, I wonder what would happen if..."

The thing I find most helpful about brewing software is how it helps you understand what the effect of your changes will be. For instance, dry versus liquid extract will provide a different amount of fermentables for the same weight, so to keep the end alcohol the same, you will want to adjust the quantity when changing one to the other. Software makes it easy to see how the final alcohol changes as you alter things like that.

Likewise if you move your extract to a late addition, the main change will be you will get more bitterness out of your early hop additions. That could be a good or bad thing, depending on whether you want to tweak the recipe to make it more or less bitter, or just keep it the same. Fortunately, the software will calculate a predicted IBU, so you can see how this changes when you select a late extract addition, and adjust the quantity of bittering hops if you want to balance this back the other way. Maybe you want to use late extract so you can get more bitterness in your brew from the same amount of hops, or maybe you want it so you can save money by using less hops while keeping bitterness the same - either way the software makes it easy to understand what is going on.

And don't be afraid of making bigger changes like altering the hop or yeast varieties. Just make sure you understand WHY you are making these changes. Beer Smith includes descriptions of all the ingredients, and you can find much more info in places like the White Labs or Wyeast website. It can be a lot of fun to experiment with different kinds of yeast, as long as you know what you want the final beer to taste like, and choose something that sounds like it would fit. It wouldn't be too smart to pick a fruity English yeast if you're going for a super clean end product, for instance, but if you're looking for fruityness, there are dozens of subtly different fruity yeast styles out there, and the only way to know which you prefer is to try them all!
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Old 01-10-2009, 04:01 PM   #4
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More than likely drinkable and maybe even enjoyable. And don't discount the effect aging will have... I made a batch once that I thought tasted bad. Was going to discard it but kept the bottles in a cool place for about four months before opening another - what a difference!

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Old 01-10-2009, 04:11 PM   #5
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For my first extract brew I did a recipe from a book. However, I was in a LHBS with VERY limited supplies. I made a bitter with all kinds of forced substitutions in hops LME, just about everything. A while after I had finished the beer I found out that all the panic substitutions were completely wrong for the style, but it still turned ot great. I just wish I had taken proper notes, I would love to know what I did!

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Old 01-11-2009, 07:59 PM   #6
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Also check out Designing Great Beers by Ray Daniels. He does a good job of explaining what different ingredients contribute to a recipe, and how to combine ingredients to achieve the basic characteristics of a particular style. He goes into the details of how to calculate a malt bill and hop bill, what various common adjuncts will do for a recipe, how to adjust water chemistry, etc.

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