Brew with Shegogue

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This is the first article in a series entitled 'Brewing with Brett.' The series will detail Brett's approach and execution of brewing a batch of all-grain beer. Almost every aspect of crafting a brew can be dissected and discussed. In this series Brett will delve into some of that minutiae, starting with setting up his recipe.
We are starting with recipe setup. Please note that this is different from recipe development, which is another beast entirely. Recipe setup is important because everyone's brewing system behaves a little differently. You want to have a good handle on your typical brewhouse efficiency and volume losses (due to dead space in your vessels and boil-off rate) to be able to scale a recipe to your system.
Choose Your Recipe
The obvious first step into brewing a batch of beer is to first pick a recipe. I generally like to stay somewhat within style guidelines. Anytime I am trying a new style for the first time I will head right to my copy of "Brewing Classic Styles*." There are also plenty of recipes here on HomeBrewTalk in the Recipes Forum section. If sticking to a style isn't your thing, you can do a search for a commercial beer you may enjoy which has a well received clone recipe. A good set of clone recipes have been transposed on the forum in this thread and discussed through a podcast over at The Brewing Network.
The best recipes provide the most detail. At minimum, I want to receive the following recipe information:
  • Grain bill and mash temp
  • Hops include AA%, weight and estimated IBUs(or what formula they are using to estimate, such as Rager or Tinseth)
  • Yeast
  • Batch Size
  • Efficiency and gravities
All of this information is crucial to adapt the recipe you choose to your system. After way too much deliberation, which constantly plagues my recipe research, I decided to use Jamil Zainasheff's Bohemian Pilsener recipe.
Once we have our recipe we will need to set it up. Now we turn to using brewing software to adapt the recipe.
Utilize Brewing Software
There are a handful of appropriate brewing software tools out there which will accomplish what you need them to. I am a big fan of BrewTarget. I believe BrewTarget was created by HomeBrewTalk forum user @rocketman768 and is currently maintained by @mikfire. If you are not already aware, brewing software simplifies adapting or developing recipes to your system by performing complex formulas in the background and showing you the vital details on the front end.
I also have a few different equipment setups saved in BrewTarget. These equipment setups capture my boil off rate, volume losses, efficiency and batch sizes. I often brew 6-gallon batches, but sometimes brew a 5-gallon batch or "half" batch of 2.5 gallons. The software makes it easy to input a recipe for one of these batch sizes by just a click of a button. For this series I am going to be working with a 5-gallon (total ending volume) batch size.

Jamil's recipe for BYO follows the same guidelines and assumes 70% efficiency. For my system I typically get between 70% - 75% efficiency. As you can see in the image below, the exact recipe, as it is written, on my system will result in an Original Gravity (OG) of 1.061 which is a little high. When I am adjusting a recipe for efficiency (final batch sizes equal) I always adjust my base malt up or down until I hit the recipe's target OG. For this recipe I needed to decrease my base pilsner malt down from 10.75 lbs to 9.75 lbs to reach the OG in the recipe of 1.056 on my system.

Next we need adjust the recipe for hops. This can be tricky, especially if you don't already have the hops and their alpha acid percentage (AA%) on hand. If you don't have the hops, most hop varieties have a range of AA% they usually fall under. I recommend using the lower end of that range for your estimates when setting up your recipe. You can always decrease the amount of hops you use.

I often make a few adjustments to recipes depending on my current ingredients on-hand. I have 3 oz of Saaz hops at 3% AA in my freezer currently. I really dont want to go out and purchase anymore hops for this beer [insert Brett is lazy remark here]. I decided to adjust the hopping schedule a little to accommodate what I had on-hand. I decided to use a bittering addition of Magnum, and two additions of the Saaz hops, one at 20 minutes left in the boil and another at flameout. I sort of combined Jamil's 30-minute and 10-minute additions and increased the flameout a tiny bit.

I use the Rager formula for estimating IBUs, and I always calculate my flameout additions as imparting 0 IBUs even though I am sure some bitterness is extracted.
The last step of my recipe setup is to go to the yeast tab and select the yeast I will be using. After inputting the yeast, which for this recipe is going to be WLP800, the software will use the yeasts attenuation percentage to predict your final gravity and estimated ABV.
That is it! This recipe is ready to go and it is starting to look like a tasty beer. Stay tuned to for the next article in the 'Brewing with Brett' series to see how this beer turns out!
* The recipes in Brewing classic styles are setup for 6-gallon batches. Jamil has discussed most of them in more depth through his Style Profile column in the BYO magazine. All recipes in BYO are for 5-gallons. This can help you if you are trying to adjust ingredients in the recipe to a certain batch size.
When he's not busy writing articles for HomeBrewTalk Brett Shegogue is writing for his blog, Shegogue Brew.

What they said XD
Good showcase of BrewTarget, I'll have to check it out. Beersmith has been kind of stagnant on the features lately.
Yeah, definitely should have included his last name. I think a lot of people will get excited by the title and then be disappointed.
I also thought that this about yeast. Anyway, a great read and I will be downloading BrewTarget when I get home tonight! Looking forward to Part 2.
Hey all, thanks for pointing out the misleading title. I will let the HomeBrewTalk admins decide whether to change it or not.
@scparks I really enjoy BrewTarget, and hope you do too. As with any software there is a learning curve so keep that in mind, but feel free to PM me if you have any questions.
And I had been just thinking I needed to learn a bit about using brett. So my excitement at seeing this was topped only by my disappointment when reading it.
Yea, badly executed. I came here like everyone else, thinking about brewing funky beers. This is a nice article, but most of this information is readily available pretty much everywhere. Don't see why it deserves an article.
Maybe add an introduction somewhere laying out this guy's credentials that make him qualified to be our brew mentor? I saw the new title (without seeing the original "Brewing with Brett"), thought, "Maybe that's a new strain of Brettanomyces." When I saw it was someone's name, my first thought was, "Why do I care what this guy has to say? Who is he?"
"Brewing with Brett" is a clever play on words that gets lost in the fact that it's so misleading. It would fit better as the title of a blog or a series of blog posts, where the audience knows that it's a play on words and doesn't click expecting something else. "Brewing with Brett Shegogue" comes out as self-aggrandizing, as it seems to indicate that the author is trying to market himself as a big name in homebrewing, even though the circumstances don't support that conclusion. Maybe "BwB: Part 1, Choosing a Recipe" or something, then let the introduction define "BwB" as "Brewing with Brett" so it's neither misleading nor self-aggrandizing.
Guys, there was no ill intent here. His name is Brett. If I had wrote the article it would have been "Brewing with Austin". It was not an attempt at trickery, misleading you, etc. What would be the point of that?
I'm discussing with Brett a better title moving forward.
Please remember that writers are volunteering their time to help improve all of our brewing. If you ever take issue with something please feel free to contact me directly. I have followed up with a couple of you already.
An issue could be that it's easy to overlook the by-line for articles. I know I've had to go back and reread the author's username when looking for OP responses, etc.
"Brewing with a Dude Named Brett, Not Brettanomyces" gets too wordy.
Solid advice, though. Good advice to dial in your recipt to get the repeatable results.