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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > Help With Recipe Formulation
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Old 12-01-2010, 04:02 AM   #1
ramusiq
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Default Help With Recipe Formulation

Fairly new to home brewing here. Took the leap and started with AG rather than extract brewing. Have a few nice AG batches of under my belt made from some AG kits. I'm looking to take the plunge and start exploring some of the ideas that I have in my head but have a few questions.

I have been researching hop and malt flavor characteristics and think I have certain of each in mind. But my biggest question, which I've been unable to find an answer to as of yet, is where to start with the actually weight of grains to use. I've got ideas on percentages of each grain, but how much total grain am I shooting for in a 5 gal batch? Is there a rule-of-thumb that I missed somewhere? Most recipes that I have found use anywhere from 9-13 lbs of total grain weight. Any pointers here? I may have a few other questions, but would really appreciate some guidance on this milestone.

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Old 12-01-2010, 04:17 AM   #2
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The amount of grain to be used is based roughly on two things: the target OG and your conversion efficiency percentage. Most published recipes are written for a conversion % of about 75%. If your brewery is different from that, simply adjust the grain quantity up or down to hit the recipe's target OG. For writing your own recipes the concept is similar, use the weight of grain based on your conversion % to hit the desired OG.

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Old 12-01-2010, 04:26 AM   #3
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A software program such as Beersmith will really help you determine the grain amount for an particular OG once you know your efficiency. You can adjust the amounts and see how each addition affects your recipe, color and bitterness. Well worth the investment for an all grain brewer.

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Old 12-01-2010, 04:35 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Blender View Post
A software program such as Beersmith will really help you determine the grain amount for an particular OG once you know your efficiency. You can adjust the amounts and see how each addition affects your recipe, color and bitterness. Well worth the investment for an all grain brewer.
What this guy says... Beersmith is awesome. I've only got the trial addition which is good for me for about another week or so then I'm getting it. As you add grains to your recipe it shows the the percentage of each grain your recipe is using. Also the nice thing is that when your adding grains you can mouse over the type of grain and a text box will pop up that describes what flavors/mouthfeels it attributes and gives you an approximate max percentage that the grain type should take up in a recipe. So grains like 2-row it recommends up to 100% of the recipe where as grains like black patent it maxes out at 10% of your recipe. Check it out.... it's free to try.
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Old 12-01-2010, 06:29 AM   #5
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+1 to BeerSmith. Play with the free trial and I guarantee you will buy it.

Designing Great Beers by Ray Daniels is an invaluable resource for understanding what is happening during the process of brewing and how different ingredients work together (or don't work together). You can get as in depth or as superficial an understanding as you want or as you can process at one time. Means there is always new info each time you go back. Really helps with understanding styles as well.

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Old 12-01-2010, 08:03 AM   #6
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+1 for BeerSmith. Also, give http://hopville.com/ (web-based) a try. While not as full-featured as BeerSmith it's free and available anywhere.

For me, the biggest break-thru was in realizing the significance of PPG (Points per Pound per Gallon). Basically, 1 Lb of grain with a PPG of 36 will increase the specific gravity of a gallon of water from 1.000 to 1.036. To bring 5 gallons to 1.036, you'd need 5 Lbs of that grain.

Or, to put it another way, a pound of fermentables contributes 1/5 of its PPG to a five-gallon batch.

With a Flavor/Color/Syle ("rich chocolaty porter"), Batch Size ("5.0 gallons") and Original Gravity ("1.060") in mind, you can then work to create a recipe using specific quantities of grains to achieve your goal.

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Old 12-01-2010, 08:45 AM   #7
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Read "Designing Great Beers."

The software will help with the instant gratification of writing a recipe. Search for "brewing software" on HBT and you'll find a bunch of threads that explain the pros and cons of a lot of different softwares.

The book will help you understand the how and why behind the recipe. I read a lot on the topic and this is one of my favorites.

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Old 12-01-2010, 03:47 PM   #8
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Remember, when we talk about the percentage of each grain, that does not refer to the weight of each grain compared to the total amount of grain. It's the percentage of the total sugars.

The difference is subtle, but it has big implications when you realize how different the PPPG is for each type of malt. Black patent only has 25PPPG while Pils malt has about 37PPPG. To get the same sugar percentage from each of these grains, you'd be using two-thirds as much Pils malt.

You really need to read Designing Great Beers to get the crash course in all this. Instead of buying a brewing program, I just created a spreadsheet using Daniels's information. I have it setup so that I can enter everything in terms of percentages instead of weight. I hate the way that people are introduced to homebrewing thinking that everything is typically measured in quarter pound increments. All of my weights are to the hundreth of a pound, but my percentages are usually whole numbers. This makes more sense to me when you're scaling recipes up or down.

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Old 12-01-2010, 07:15 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by kanzimonson View Post
You really need to read Designing Great Beers to get the crash course in all this. Instead of buying a brewing program, I just created a spreadsheet using Daniels's information. I have it setup so that I can enter everything in terms of percentages instead of weight. I hate the way that people are introduced to homebrewing thinking that everything is typically measured in quarter pound increments. All of my weights are to the hundreth of a pound, but my percentages are usually whole numbers. This makes more sense to me when you're scaling recipes up or down.
Do you mind sharing your spreadsheet? I use BeerSmith but some things regarding conversions and weight are frustrating. If you have it set to use pounds it won't use pounds and ounces for smaller amounts of specialty grains
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Old 12-01-2010, 07:22 PM   #10
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I sort of agree with designing great beers, though its not exactly an easy read by any means, there is some good info in it. I also definitely agree with a brewing program. especially if you are planning to try a comp or 2 down the line. I have all Macs and I use Beer Alchemy. terrific program and very user freindly. After plugging all my old recipes in that I just created in my head, I discovered most of them missed a BJCP style guidline point or 3. The nice thing about the software is it tells you these guidlines and will automatically let you know if you hit the points or missed them. then you can tweak the recipe and it will show in real time what those tweaks do to change every aspect of your recipe, from IBU, color, starting gravity, finished gravity, Alcohol percentage, etc.

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