On creating recipes

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dutch101st

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I have about 12 kits under my belt now and I have my all grain rig built (still have to test temperature loss and all that before embarking upon the great crusade) and so now I am looking at creating my own recipes.

What sorts of things should I consider...

Grains?
Hops?
Yeast?

I am reading/refering to Palmer's book, but wanted to ask "the guys inthe trenches".
 

bradsul

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HowToBrew is fantastic but when you start into the world of crafting recipes I don't think there's any better first book to read than Designing Great Beers. It's a fantastic reference on both styles and ingredients and on how to put them together successfully.
 
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Nurmey

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Recreate, in all grain, one of the kits you liked. I learned to make recipes by taking a base (proven) recipe we liked and change it up a bit. By doing this you will make a good recipe you know you already like and by adding or deleting ingredients you get a feel for what the ingredient do and what you like/dislike about them.
 
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Books are great for learnin', and should be read. Beyond that, practice and experience are where it's at.

I started by throwing a bunch of stuff together and seeing what came out in the end. No rhyme or reason. I got a couple drinkable beers, but nothing special.

Then I decided I needed to really understand what I was putting in my beer and how it was going to affect the overall taste/nose/body of the finished product. I made a very simple recipe - EdWort's Haus Pale Ale. I then started changing one ingredient at a time, taking notes on how the flavor of the beer changed with each ingredient. I'm still in the learning process as I haven't yet tried out all the grains I'm interested in, but I am confident that every beer I brew will be outstanding because I'm making small changes to the past beer.

I'll eventually get through all the styles I'm interested in by following this process. It starts with pale ales - 2-row, some malty grain (Vienna), a little light crystal and a single flavor of hops. As the crystal gets darker and more malty grains are added it becomes an Amber style. I'm still working on different combinations of pale ale and amber ale ingredients at this point. As I add darker grains I'll end up with porters and stouts.

It's very fun and educational and I hardly ever get a stinker this way.

I do throw in recipes that are not part of this process because I want another style on hand. Not surprisingly, these are not my best. I still don't have a stout recipe worth a crap.
 

KYB

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Here are some good descriptions of grains, hops, and yeast and guidelines on what you might use them in.

Brew Your Own: The How-To Homebrew Beer Magazine - Grains and Adjuncts Chart
Brew Your Own: The How-To Homebrew Beer Magazine - Comparing and Selecting Hops
Brew Your Own: The How-To Homebrew Beer Magazine - Homebrew Yeast Strains Chart

The BJCP has some style guidelines you could use as a guide, not necessarily sticking to their exact specs (unless you want to enter it into a competition). I don't see why people are so nervous about all grain. It's no big deal, just know what you are doing and plan to do, before you get to it. My first brew was all grain. First brew on my equipment (2nd AG) was my FES recipe and I got 75% efficiency with a ghetto sparge arm I made and cooling in the bathtub with ice and water. I just looked at other Stout recipes, read the BJCP guidelines for different Stouts, and made up my own. Mine is basically a beefed up Dry Stout, with some differences. Good luck.
 

Daddymem

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Our sponser has a nice recipe builder page:
http://www.brewmasterswarehouse.com/brew-builder

It's fun to play with the ingredients and see what changes to the beer you get and how to dial in to match a style.

I also like the beer recipator:
The Beer Recipator 2.2

The styles are a little more limited but again, you can see instantly what changes to hops additions timings, for example, have on the brew.
 

Shawn Hargreaves

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My main advice is to create new recipes by looking at existing ones, rather than just starting from scratch every time. It's easy to get carried away by the number of ingredients available, and throw together some crazy combination of them, but the chances of making great beer that way are actually pretty slim :)

My favorite recipes all started by looking at what has worked for other people in the past. For instance if I want to make a stout, I'll read up about what other people use when they make a stout. I might combine bits of 5 different recipes to come up with something that feels right to me, brew it, then maybe tweak some details to adjust it for my personal taste. But I always start from by reading what other people have done, rather than just with a blank page.
 
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