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DeathBrewer 02-21-2010 12:04 AM

Recipe Formulation & Ingredients Descriptions
Spawned from the Easy Partial Mash Brewing thread, I threw this together to give some people a better idea of grains, at least the ones I use regularly for now. This will become a branch of a tutorial I have planned, so feel free to ask questions, correct my mistakes, challenge my assertions, etc. and I will modify the posts. I'm thinking once the information is solid and the tutorial links to it, I'll have the mods close the thread.

Please note: Your posts may be deleted from this thread once your suggestions have been considered and/or included and the thread is closed

Recipe Formulation

If you want to get into recipe formulation, you just have to understand the ingredients. Much like in cooking, the key to a great beer is to know your materials, inside and out, from start to finish. Break apart a few pellets and stick your nose in a bag of hops. Taste the different grains you are using, and taste your wort at different stages during the brew process. Smell your yeast before you pour it in (it will smell funky :D but you'll soon be comparing it to other yeasts) and keep your nose over the airlock during fermentation.

Remember that although you may not be able to completely understand what ingredients will contribute to the end product, you will, over time, be able to distinguish the differences between similar ingredients. Understanding how a a Crystal 20L differs from a Crystal 40L will tell you how you wish to modify your recipe once it is complete.

Our homebrew club did a fun experiment last weekend. One member steeped specialty grains (crystal 10-120L) and different types of hops so we could taste the flavors. The difference between the aroma and taste in the grain was striking. You got a lot more from the nose than the flavor, and you can definitely tell what it contributes.

I think doing a 5 gallon extract batch with very subdued hops and steeping 5 different specialty grains separately to top off 5 1-gallon beers would be a good idea to better understand flavors, using a clean yeast. Maybe just use some carb tabs or sugar and force carbonate in a few bottles.

Reading descriptions will help somewhat, especially if you have the grain on hand to taste and think about. It will also give you a better understanding of the brewing jargon.

Here are a few links I found with a search of different malt types:





And, of course, How To Brew:


Comparing recipes also helps. I read many books and based my recipes for a long time off of things I had read. Using tried and true, simple recipes will greatly improve your knowledge.

I also went nuts with grains and overboard with many different things, which ended with some unpleasant beers and a new-found appreciation of subtlety. Checking out the style guidelines will help. Remember that when they say "up to 10%", they really mean "up to"...pushing the boundaries can be fun, but you first have to know what you're working with.

Starting simple may mean you'll have to brew more beers before you know ALL the ingredients, but it means you will have a greater knowledge of the ingredients you have used in those batches.

And, of course, there are many members of HBT that are willing to help you make any tough decisions.

DeathBrewer 02-21-2010 12:05 AM

Grain Descriptions

Here is a list of my take on a few grains and what I use them in. All of the quantities are based off of 5 gallon recipes.

Base Malts

These malts must be mashed. They can be used all by themselves for the base of the beer or as part of your grain bill to simply give character. I often use darker versions, such as Munich or Vienna, to give a beer the body, color and sweetness that some people use Crystal Malts for. Using the appropriate grain for the appropriate beer is key, so I generally use, for example, British grains when making British beers. There are always exceptions, however, as I will put German Vienna into just about anything ;)

Pale Malt (2-row): Standard base malt. Very light flavor and color. 2L. Huge difference between British and American, with British being more grainy and malty. Used for English and American Pale Ales, Steam Beers, American Wheats, etc. Can be used in just about any beer, except perhaps some of the lighter beers, such as a Kölsch.

6-row Malt: Can be slightly more bready or grainy than Pale Malt, but used in the same way. 2L. Supposedly traditional for a Cream Ale, although I don't always go with it for that style.

Pale Ale Malt: Slightly darker, maltier version of Pale Malt. 4L

Pilsner Malt: Very crisp and light colored base malt. 2L. Used as a base for Pilsner, Kölsch, Belgian Beers, and other clean lagers and ales. I use up to 50% for a light German Hefeweizen and for portions of the base in many other beers, including my Irish Rye Stout.

Vienna Malt: Nice malty sweetness...this stuff is very versatile. 4L. I've used it as a base for Pale Ales, Steam Beers and my Vienna+NB SMaSH. It can be used for up to 50% of a nice malty hefeweizen or dunkelweizen. A few pounds are added to the Roggenbier and any other recipe that needs a malty backbone.

Munich Malt: Much like Vienna, but bolder, maltier, and darker flavored. Contributes an amber color to the beer. 10L (and darker versions that may or may not be able to be mashed.) Used in up to 50% of my Dunkelweizens, and may be used to add malt flavor to any beer. Can be used by itself to make a nice, malty beer, but can be cloying if used incorrectly in large portions.

Wheat Malt: A glorious gift of nature :D Comes in red or white, both which are nice and light in flavor. It is full of protein so it lends a light body and a rich head to any beer it's used in. With no husks, it can make for a troublesome mash (but not with the brew in a bag method, of course), so if you use a mash tun, you may wish to use rice hulls. 2L. I use up to 70% in any Wheat Beer, and will add a pound or so to any beer to give it a unique character and to lighten the body.

Rye Malt: Much like wheat, but with a different and more pronounced flavor (kinda like wheat bread vs. rye.) It is much more of a pain to deal with than wheat...the protein content is high and there are no husks, so you definitely want to use rice hulls if you are using a mash tun. I think it's color is about 4L. I use 50% in my Roggenbier, and a few pounds in my Irish Rye Stout. I'll add a small amount to any other beer if I feel the need to make it interesting.

Crystal (Caramel) Malts

American and British Crystal: Crystal malts add character to your beer. I don't use them much for color, as I feel the amount it takes to contribute gives flavors I don't want. The smaller ones (10L, 20L) can be used in pretty large quantities, especially in extract batches. I usually only use 10L and 40L when it comes to American crystal, but I often even replace those with others listed below. The British crystals are excellent. I've used the 50/60 and 15 many times in pale beers, most recently the English IPA...one of my new favorites.

Caravienna (Caravienne): Gives a clean, crisp, prounounced sweetness. Low color (around 20L.) Used in around 0.50 lb quantities in primarily American Wheats, Belgian Pales and my Roggenbier.

Caramunich: This is a bit darker and bolder. It gives some of the higher crystal character (nutty, toffee, dark sweetness) without as much color. Around 50L. Use 0.5 lb for my Irish Rye Stout and in place of anything that takes crystal malt.

Honey Malt: This actually does taste like honey in small quantities. Adding too much will show you that it is more of the floral sweetness, however, and not completely reminiscent of honey. Very pronounced character...it can be a bit overbearing if used in place of a usual crystal, but it is perfect in small quantities for certain beers. I use sparingly (0.25 lbs) in my Irish Rye Stout and sometimes in American Wheats.

Other Malts

Chocolate Malt: To be general, it will give a slight chocolate flavor in small quantities, can be bready/nutty in medium quantities, and can give a slight (pleasant) roastiness in larger quantities. This malt is essential to brown ales, and used (sometimes along with black patent and/or roasted barley) for stouts and porters. It is added to a large majority of my recipes, if only in small quantities (often just 2 ounces) as I perceive it to "round out" the flavor with a softness, not to mention give a little dash of color. Taste the difference between grain from various countries and suppliers if they are available. There are varying color ranges (probably 300-500L) but they all contribute with a dark brown. Used in about 3-4 ounce quantities in Steam Beers, Dunkelweizens, Roggenbier, Amber Ales and about 2 ounces in anything that could use a little color. You could use much more (up to about a pound) for Stouts and Porters.

Carafa II: Adds color with VERY little flavor. Can add a roasty flavor and said to intensify aroma when used in larger quantities. Grind it up into a powder to get the most effect from it. You can add it to darken other recipes where you've got the flavor just right (such as making a brown stout black.) I generally use no more than a few ounces. This baby is blacker than the blackest black (times infinity)...ok, ok...it's about 400L :D. Used sparingly in a vast amount of my recipes, from Stouts, Dunkelweizens, Dark Lagers, the Black Wit and, of course, the Irish Rye Stout.

Aromatic Malt: This malt needs to be mashed. It actually can convert itself, but I don't know that anyone could get away with using this for an entire grain bill. I use very small amounts to add maltiness to otherwise clean beers or to make maltiness more pronounced. Using more than 4 ounces (and that's pushing it) will make for a cloying beer. 25L. 2 ounces are used each in most of my German Hefeweizens and in my Irish Rye Stout.

Carapils: Adds body ("fullness") and increases head retention. My buddy uses this in his Steam Beer.

DeathBrewer 02-21-2010 12:06 AM

Hops Descriptions

Hops are primarily used to create a bittering balance to your otherwise sweet beer. Some beers are more hoppy than others, but balance is always key. They can also be used to add flavor and aroma in almost any style. As with grain, using the appropriate style of hops according to where it comes from and/or what variety it is will give you a more to-style beer than using the same hops for everything.

Please note that suggested substitutes are not replacements. To get the exact flavor of another hop, you would need to do some serious blending (I may make some simple suggestions), but all substitutes will be good for the style and methods I describe.

I do not categorize any hops as "bittering" or "aroma", as I think most styles can be used for a wide range of purposes.

Bear with me and please provide your input as I attempt to describe the varieties. Hop chemistry is not my strong point and it is often difficult to find the right words. I will soon organize and inventory my hops, while taking a smell to reaffirm my perception. I may also use other websites as guidelines for hops I don't use as much or to help me until I've used them fresh and have a better description.

Noble Hops

Wikipedia makes this description: "The term noble hops traditionally refers to four varieties of hop which are low in bitterness and high in aroma. They are the central European cultivars, Hallertau, Tettnanger, Spalt, and Saaz. They are each named for a specific region or city in which they were first grown or primarily grown. They contain high amounts of the hop oil humulene and low amounts of alpha acids cohumulone and adhumulone, as well as lower amounts of the harsher-tasting beta acids lupulone, colupulone, and adlupulone."

I describe these hops as spicy, soft and somewhat earthy. They are used in many german lagers, as well as german wheat beers. They also can have a place in many belgian beers...very prominent in beers which are malt-based. I very often use these hops to "smooth out" the flavor by adding a small amount at the end of the boil for almost any beer.

Hallertau or Hersbrucker varieties: Clean hop with a nice balance of spicy and soft. This is my 2nd favorite hop for my German Wheat Beers and my Roggenbier. American versions are usually higher alpha acid and a bit on the harsher side, but still can work wonderfully with smaller amounts. Good substitute: Liberty, Other noble hops

Tettnanger: More spicy than Hallertau, this is a flavorful yet soft hop. Absolutely my favorite hops for Hefeweizens. One HBT member was kind enough to forward me a pound of this some time ago and I eliminated very quickly with only 0.75 ounces at a time in my German Wheats. American versions are very similar, although often higher in alpha acid content. Good substitute: Hallertau

Spalt: A bit more earthy than the other nobles, some websites describe it as "pungent". Supposedly a great hop for Alts and Kölsch, although the other noble hops work just as well. Good substitute: Other noble hops

Saaz: Very soft, mild hop. Used in many light lagers. I use this hop for finishing in many different beers to make them soft and smooth. It can be too light to be used for bittering, unless you want the hops to balance but become almost non-existant. American varieties are more pronounced in flavor and generally higher alpha acid, but still quite good for just about any beer. Good substitute: Styrian Goldings, Other noble hops

Noble Hop Cousins

These are American varieties of the noble hops, with slightly different characteristics.

Liberty: Good Hallertau variety. Perhaps less spicy than it's noble counterpart. Good substitute: Noble hops

Mt. Hood: Fruity, floral and somewhat spicy. Mt. Hood is a Hallertau strain that, while still good for light styles, has a much more prounounced "floral fruitiness" than it's Hallertau cousin. I've often used it as a portion of American Pale Ales. My buddy makes an excellent SMaSH with it. Good substitute: That's a tough one. Probably a mixture of Noble Hops and a fruity variety.

Sterling: Somewhat soft, spicy, earthy, floral. Many websites say this is a good Saaz substitute, but I find it to be much more pronounced and less soft. Great in a hefeweizen. Good substitute: Noble hops

British Hops

Fuggle: Clean and Spicy, it has some noble qualities, but is much more earthy. Great for all British styles, it can also be used to bitter unique Wheat Beers. American counterparts are quite similar. Good substitute: Willamette, Goldings, or perhaps a mixture of Goldings and Noble hops.

Goldings (UK or East Kent): Slightly spicy and very clean....cleaner and softer than Fuggle. Great for all British styles and greatly compliments chocolate malt (actually making it chocolatey.) I use it in all my stouts. American counterparts are quite similar. Good substitute: Willamette, Fuggle

"C" hops and American Varieties

Cascade: Floral and very grassy. Can give a grapefruit flavor to beers. Used in American Pale Ales. I do not recommend this hop for bittering. Good substitute: Centennial

Centennial: Floral, grassy, citrusy. Usually very high in alpha acid content. Great for Am. Pale Ales and IPAs. Good substitute: Mixture of Cascade and Amarillo

Amarillo: Very citrusy and floral, less grassy. My favorite of the non-noble American varieties. Substitute: Perhaps a mixture of Simcoe and Centennial

Simcoe: Piney, citrusy and somewhat lemony. Great hop for making a unique American IPA. Substitute: None

Sorachi Ace: Extremely Lemony hop. Really stands out in the beer. Small amounts can add some distinction to American Ales. Substitute: None

Other hops

Other hops that don't really fit into my categories.

Galena: Clean, fruity bittering hop. Good substitute: Magnum

Magnum: Clean bittering hop with pleasant spiciness. Good substitute: Perhaps a mix of Galena and Northern Brewer

Northern Brewer: Woody, Spicy, Piny, Earthy. This is one of my favorites. It's the trademark hop for California Commons made in the bay area, including the Common Lager from Linden Street Brewery. Excellent bittering hop for just about any American or British style. I use it in Steam Beers and in my SMaSH Ale all the way through the process. Also good for Alts. Good substitute: German Tradition (a very similar strain and really the only suitable substitute)

Styrian Golding: Soft, spicy, somewhat earthy. This is a fuggle variety, but it more closely resembles a noble hop, perhaps with a bit more earthiness. Usually a very low alpha acid content. Excellent way to soften up beers (see Saaz)...I used this exclusively (at 1.9% alpha acid) to make a wide range of excellent Belgian Beers. Good substitute: Saaz

Note: Listed so far are hops that I generally use. If you'd like more info on my take of any other specific hops, please let me know. I will add them to the list and do some research if necessary. Let me know if you'd like more info on the hops listed, as well.

DeathBrewer 02-21-2010 12:06 AM

Yeast and Bacteria Descriptions

This section will not be as extensive as the others. The various websites give excellent descriptions of their yeasts (and I will link them here) so I will be talking more about specific yeasts or strain families. I usually use White Labs (although Wyeast makes excellent yeast as well), so most specifics will describe those vials.

Link: White Labs - Liquid yeasts sold in 35mL vials (70-140 billion cells)

Link: Wyeast - Liquid yeasts sold in activator smack-packs (100 billions cells)

Link: Danstar - Dry yeast sold in 11 gram packs (5 x 10 to the power of 9 per gram of dry yeast)

Link: Fermentis - Dry Yeast sold in 11.5 gram packs (6 x 10 to the power of 9 per gram of dry yeast)

Eventually there will also be a link here about yeast pitching rates and making starters.

Hefeweizen Yeasts

German Hefeweizens get much of their character from the "banana and clove" ale yeasts. Ferment these beers in the low 60s for nice, clean flavor and the high 60s for a more pronounced banana.

WLP300 Hefeweizen Ale Yeast - This is my go-to yeast for my Hefeweizens. It gives a nice, balanced clove and banana that goes well with a clean wheat beer.

WLP380 Hefeweizen IV Ale Yeast - This is my favorite for Dunkelweizens. More "fruity", it has more of an apricot flavor (don't let that dissuade you...doesn't taste like apricots, it's just the best description I have at the moment) than banana.

American Ale Yeasts

American Ale strains are clean or clean and somewhat fruity. Ferment in the low to high 60s, more clean at lower temps.

Danstar Nottingham Yeast: Supposedly a British strain, this yeast is very clean and can even make lager-like beers at very low temps. Highly attenuative, it's a very good yeast to make a dry, clean beer. However, the yeast itself doesn't taste that great, so be sure to cold-crash, age or use finings to get the yeast itself out of solution. I've fermented this beer as low as 54°F.

WLP001 California Ale Yeast: A homebrewer favorite. This strain will make any American Ale you want. Slightly fruity.

Fermentis US-05: Very similar to WLP001, this dry yeast is a very convenient and pleasant American Ale strain.

British Ale Yeasts

British Ale Yeasts generally are more fruity and less attenuative than the American Pale varieties. Ferment in the low to mid 60s for the best flavor profile.

WLP002 English Ale Yeast: Standard British ale yeast, it will give the low attenuation and fruity profile for your British Ales.

WLP009 Dry English Ale Yeast: I prefer this yeast to the English strain, as I do not prefer the residual sweetness left in English Ales and this strain is more attenuative.

Fermentis S-04 Yeast: Great English dry yeast strain. What I use for my English IPA.

Scottish/Irish Ale Yeasts

Used to make Wee Heavys, Irish Red Ales, and the like.

WLP004 Irish Ale Yeast: Great yeast for stouts. Adds a hint of Diacetyl that some may find unpleasant, but works well with certain beers. Can benefit from a Diacetyl rest. Used in my Irish Rye Stout.

Belgian Ale Yeasts

Belgian beers have a distinct spicy, wild "funkiness" that can only be done with the appropriate yeast.

WLP550 Belgian Ale Yeast: This is my favorite Belgian Ale Yeast. It is much more clean than the others, offering a slightly phenolic and pleasant spicy flavor. Can be used in everything from Wit Beer to a Belgian Strong Ale. WLP500 & WLP530 can be used for more Belgian characteristics.

Lager Yeasts

WLP810 San Francisco Lager Yeast: A Lager Yeast that works at ale temperature (low to mid 60s), this is trademark for the California Common (Steam Beer) style. The Wyeast 2112 California Lager is smoother and cleaner than the White Labs version, which gives a distinct, pronounced spiciness.

WLP838 Southern German Lager Yeast: Very clean, low ester lager yeast. Our house strain, used in my roommates Black Lager.

Brett and Bacteria (aka useful nastiness)

If found spontaneously, they can be considered to be the culprit of an "infected batch", but when used properly, these "wild yeasts" or bacteria strains are a necessity for making sour ales, Berliner Weiss, Gueze, Lambic beers and certain Belgian styles.

Brettanomyces: Gives the "horse blanket" character often found in beers such as Belgian ales and Lambics.

Lactobacillus: Essential to Berliner Weiss, this bacteria produces lactic acid. Can be cultured from yogurt or purchased.

DeathBrewer 02-21-2010 12:07 AM

Adjuncts and Other Ingredients

Flaked and Raw Adjuncts

These ingredients can come in handy for a large variety of purposes. Raw ingredients must go through a cereal mash before being used in brewing. Your regular mash must then contain enough enzymes to convert the starches, because these ingredients contain no enzymes of their own.

Flaked Maize or Raw Corn:

Flaked, Raw or Torrified Wheat:

Flaked or Raw Oats:

Flaked or Raw Barley:

Please offer any suggestions of other ingredients you would like me to add.

DeathBrewer 02-21-2010 12:10 AM

Reserved for Other Ingredients

DeathBrewer 02-21-2010 12:17 AM

Reserved for FAQ.

Yooper 02-21-2010 12:23 AM

GREAT info! Let me know if you need anything from me. I'll sticky it now, and then delete this post in a while to keep it nice and clean. Thanks so much for putting this together!

DeathBrewer 02-21-2010 12:33 AM

Thanks, Yoop. I'll let you know when the tutorial is up...we can sticky that, as it will link to all my other threads, then we can move this guy and close it, so it's used only as an information link and won't crowd the top of the the forum. :)

EDIT: Might as well reserve this post, too. The hops section might not fit in one post.

wyzazz 02-21-2010 12:42 AM

Just in case you haven't heard it in a while, Thanks! Your very informative threads are a great help to me, and I'm sure many others as well.

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