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Old 05-08-2014, 06:43 PM   #1
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Default Recipe Formulation.

Hey,

How would one exactly go about formulating a recipe from scratch for all-grain brewing?
I've tried previously but my beers have never been quite right, they always come out not tasting like any beer I've had before...
So, what processes do you guys go through when formulating a recipe and what are some hints and tips you could give me?

Thanks,
Alex.

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Old 05-08-2014, 06:56 PM   #2
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Depends on what I'm making, but usually I'll go to BJCP style guides and read up on the style. Tons of good information there.

http://www.bjcp.org/2008styles/catdex.php

I also look to see if there is a Beersmith Blog dedicated to that style. This is VERY helpful if one exists.

Example: http://beersmith.com/blog/2011/11/03/sweet-stout-and-milk-stout-recipes/

If trying to make a specific commercial beer or using one as a starting point, I'll just google and research that beer as much as possible.

After a while you'll start to get a feel for what ingredients are used in what style, but going back to the resources listed above always helps. I also really like learning about the history of a style. Where it came from. How it originated, etc.

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Old 05-08-2014, 07:01 PM   #3
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I havn't formulated many, but when I do i keep it simple.
First know what you want fom your beer, Hop profile, what you want to be tasting in the grains and finish.
Do a lot of research on your fav style, for me its an English bitter(ordinary).
Look at receipes here or elsewhere and look for a commen dinominater.
From then on its trial and error.

Good Luck.
Dan

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Old 05-08-2014, 07:02 PM   #4
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Do yourself a favor and get Brewing Classic Styles. Before I brew a new style for the first time I go there and brew the recipe in there. Then once its done I sit with a commercial example (from BJCP guideline) and a pint of mine. I drink them side by side and read the notes in the style guideline to see if im on mark.

From there if I like how it turned out I will use that recipe as a starting point in building my own and dialing it in.

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Old 05-08-2014, 07:05 PM   #5
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I started with a lot of SMaSH brews to learn what the ingredients had to offer. Then started combining things, but still kept it simple. It's a long slow process, but you always end up with beer.

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Old 05-08-2014, 07:19 PM   #6
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Generally, I use known references for base recipes and then tweak according to my tastes based on my system and ingredients. That part is going to come eventually when you brew a base recipe enough or use ingredients enough to know how things are going to mesh together with your system. Some of the references I've used are:
1) Classic Beer Style Series (published by the Brewers Association) - This has been my go to historically. Noonan's Scotch Ale was my first and I recently acquired a new copy of that one since my old one was shredded. They're packed with history of the styles and substyles as well as recipes.
2) Brewing Classic Styles (Jamil and John Palmer) - New school and somewhat condensed version of the same.
3) Any Papazian book - They're generally filled with recipes to use as starting points, although more for hedonistic brewing rather than trying to enter comps.
4) Dave Miller's Homebrewing Guide - Another classic although John Palmer's How To Brew is much more well known these days which is another good one.

My real process is finding a base recipe or ingredients list in one of those. Most of the time it's a matter of X% base grain, Y% specialty grain, Z IBUs of whatever hops, and ferment with this type yeast in this temperature range with this range of expected OG and FG. I then plug the numbers in BeerSmith and adjust accordingly on my equipment setup.

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Old 05-08-2014, 07:55 PM   #7
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My two cents: Go purchase Brewing Better Beer by Gordon Strong and Brewing Classic Styles as mentioned by TonyG. These are my go to books when formulating and making competition worthy beers.

Next: Brew a couple of the recipes from the winners of 2013 AHA national Homebrew Competition to see what the #1 beers taste like and their ingredients. Look at each ingredient and calculate the percentage of caramel and toasted malts to the overall grist.

When formulating a beer, go to books like Classic Beer Style Series and award winning recipes. Write down each ingredient and their percentage to the overall grist. Choose the ingredients and estimate the proper amount to add to the recipe based on a percentage, followed by an amount (lb, oz etc), and go for it. When it comes to caramel and toasted malts, start with small amounts, like 4-6 oz (1/4 - 3/8 lb for 5-6 gal.) unless a recipe disagrees, and work your way up. The grains give a lot of flavor and adding too much can overwhelm the overall flavor. I found that it takes several attempts to get what you want.

Cheers and good luck, formulating good beers isn't easy,

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Old 05-08-2014, 08:03 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dlester View Post
formulating good beers isn't easy,
I get your overall point, but completely disagree with this statement. Formulating a recipe is the easy part. Execution of the process from crush all the way to the first pour is where great beers are made. You can take something as simple as Pils malt, a nobel hop, a lager yeast, proper water, and make a fantastic award winning pilsner. But you can also take the same exact recipe, completely botch the process and make undrinkable swill.

Not discounting the recipe formulation part. It is important, but by no means is it hard.
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Old 05-08-2014, 09:08 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dobe12 View Post
I get your overall point, but completely disagree with this statement. Formulating a recipe is the easy part. Execution of the process from crush all the way to the first pour is where great beers are made. You can take something as simple as Pils malt, a nobel hop, a lager yeast, proper water, and make a fantastic award winning pilsner. But you can also take the same exact recipe, completely botch the process and make undrinkable swill.

Not discounting the recipe formulation part. It is important, but by no means is it hard.
What?? With all due respect, I absolutely disagree with you, with the exception of a simple Ale or Pilsner, which you appear to be a master. Using adjuncts, caramel and tosted/roasted malts, requires you to know the taste of that malt, the correct amount and how to apply it to the grist. Using 1/2 lb of caramel is two times more than 1/4 lb, and can make a huge difference.

So unless your formulating that Pilsner, it takes time and experience to formulate a good recipe. Why do you think professional brewers have more beers that don't win than those beers that do win???

I absolutely agree, however, about the process. Any little mistake produces an off flavor. I think the issues with the process is the most posted threads on this site.


Respectfully,
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