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TravelingEngineer

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Hi all,

So I just recently started this wonderful hobby and I'm already hooked. I'm still doing 5gal extract kits and moving to AG soon, most likely 1gallon batches until I get the method down. Since I would eventually like to build my own recipes (not any time soon, but eventually) I was wondering if anyone had any recommendations for any reading material or research sources I could pick up and start looking at before I take that step.
 

carloscede2

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Hello, I started this hobby 6 months ago. I havent moved to all grain yet, I am working with base malts and then I add speacialty grains and hops to make them my own recipe. I havent moved to all grain yet because it seems like a lot of work so maybe in a year or so. I recommend you read how to Brew from jhon palmer. If you already know the basics, then go ahead and skip sections until you find something useful. I read the whole book and found it extremely helpful and interesting, it helped me build my own recipes
 

signpost

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Well, it depends on what approach you are interested in taking. Some of the more straight-forward/mainstream books a lot of people recommend (and I appreciate as well) would be:

Brewing Classic Styles
Clone Brews
Designing Great Beers

Some others that I've really enjoyed are:

the AHA series - Hops, Malt, Yeast, Water (4 separate books)
Radical Brewing
Brew Like A Monk
Wild Brews
American Sour Beers

Obviously, some of those are more specialized to the styles that I enjoy. There is plenty out there, though. I'd suggest finding a bookstore or LHBS near you that has some of these and thumb through them a bit to get an idea of which ones catch your interest. Some of the more specialized books assume you have a good idea how to brew and skip over some basic brewing techniques to save pages.
 

signpost

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Also, in case you didn't know, John Palmer's How To Brew is available online for free. It has good info to get you started into all-grain as you prep to work on your own recipes.

http://www.howtobrew.com/

Of course, if you are doing extract, you can still make your own recipes. I was making my own recipes long before I got around to collecting the equipment to do all-grain.
 

daksin

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Really, the best thing for it is just to brew. It's like learning to cook- you start with others recipes, and once you've done that enough, you start to get a feel for what ingredients do what. Then you can make substitutions or change quantities in small ways to tweak the recipe to your liking. Really the best thing is just to brew a lot- it comes with experience.
 

PcolaHB

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I use BrewSmith software. It's inexpensive and you can build recipes, find recipes, and upload recipes. It also does a ton of math for you which is perfect for me. Aside from that previously mentioned books, some of the threads in this forum, Google are great resources to find a typical base. The rest is up to you.
 

beergolf

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Really, the best thing for it is just to brew. It's like learning to cook- you start with others recipes, and once you've done that enough, you start to get a feel for what ingredients do what. Then you can make substitutions or change quantities in small ways to tweak the recipe to your liking. Really the best thing is just to brew a lot- it comes with experience.
This is a great way to look at it. When I was learning to cook I would look at many different recipes for certain dishes and would notice similarities and differences. With some experience I could figure out what worked for my taste. Same with brewing. Experience helps. Understanding what works and what does not is all part of the learning experience.

Also pick a certain style and drink several different examples of that style. After a while you will figure out what ingredients you like and do not like. For example Bell's Two Hearted Ale uses all Centennial hops. Drink some and you will understand what Centennial hops taste like. Some breweries even give away a list of ingredients for the beer on their website. If you have that information and some experience, you can get pretty close or at least use it to tweak a beer to what you like.

Pick a beer you like and then find a clone recipe of it and you will slowly begin to understand what makes it taste the way it does.

Simply. Drink more, brew more.
 

C-Rider

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I pick a style the go to Designing Great Beers for information as to what makes that style. Then I fire up BeerSmith2 and go for it using it's guidelines as well as those from Designing Great Beers. Haven't had a bad beer yet, well except for the one or two w/an infection. Here is a video I made show my 2 gallon brewing which gives me about 3 six packs.


I've modified the amounts just a little to get the 18 bottles a batch.
 
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RM-MN

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Hello, I started this hobby 6 months ago. I havent moved to all grain yet, I am working with base malts and then I add speacialty grains and hops to make them my own recipe. I havent moved to all grain yet because it seems like a lot of work so maybe in a year or so. I recommend you read how to Brew from jhon palmer. If you already know the basics, then go ahead and skip sections until you find something useful. I read the whole book and found it extremely helpful and interesting, it helped me build my own recipes
You should because it really doesn't have to be. I tried a half batch (2 1/2 gallons) BIAB and it wasn't any harder than extract with steeping grains with the exception of getting water to the right temp. Get the grains milled fine for good and fast conversion, get your water to the right temp, drop a bag into the water and stir in your grains. Wait. Pull bag out, rinse out some of the sugars remaining, and you have your wort ready to boil. I'm now to the point that I can make an all grain batch in the same amount of time I would have spent for an extract batch but at a much lower cost.

I don't start building a recipe from scratch but often modify a recipe to fit the grains I have or to fit my tastes. A good start on this is the recipe section here on HomeBrewTalk.

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/forumdisplay.php?f=82
 

McKnuckle

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As another of many who started by reading How to Brew and Joy of Homebrewing, do yourself a favor and make sure to learn about Brew in a Bag (BIAB). The "classic" home-brew authors of yore don't discuss it, making you believe that 3 vessel brewing with elaborate mashing and sparging setups are required for all-grain brewing.

I'm not trying to dissuade you from exploring those traditional setups, nor do I wish to get into a debate on brewing approaches with anyone... This is just a precaution that those books don't even touch on what has become a very popular, simple, and inexpensive AG option.
 
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TravelingEngineer

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Thanks for all the feedback! I'm definitely going to check out most of these books to get up to speed. After doing a bit of research I'm going to go the BIAB route at first to test the waters. If (lets be real, more like when) I decide to upgrade my equipment I can go full blown AG.

Once again thanks!
 

McKnuckle

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That's great! But just know: BIAB is full blown AG. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. What you're referring to as "full blown" is just traditional three vessel brewing. And it is also fun to learn and enjoyable to master. It's just not the simplest or least expensive way to brew.
 

foam_top

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Consider SMaSH brewing (Single Malt and Single Hop) - The idea is that you make beers where you can learn the taste of individual malts and hops. Eventually, you can tweak the recipe to be more complex as your taste palette becomes more sophisticated.

Also, here are some EXCELLENT tools that will help you create your own recipes by style, complete with descriptions and substitution options...

https://byo.com/resources/grains
https://byo.com/resources/hops
https://byo.com/resources/yeast
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http://beersmith.com/
https://www.brewtoad.com/recipes/new
http://www.brewersfriend.com/homebrew/recipe/calculator/
http://www.tastybrew.com/calculators/recipe.html
 

carloscede2

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As another of many who started by reading How to Brew and Joy of Homebrewing, do yourself a favor and make sure to learn about Brew in a Bag (BIAB). The "classic" home-brew authors of yore don't discuss it, making you believe that 3 vessel brewing with elaborate mashing and sparging setups are required for all-grain brewing.

I'm not trying to dissuade you from exploring those traditional setups, nor do I wish to get into a debate on brewing approaches with anyone... This is just a precaution that those books don't even touch on what has become a very popular, simple, and inexpensive AG option.
But in biab you need a big ass pot right? Cause you have to use the full volume I think. I dont have a nig ass pot yet 😂
 

TheMadKing

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But in biab you need a big ass pot right? Cause you have to use the full volume I think. I dont have a nig ass pot yet ��
nope, you need the same sized pot as traditional ag brewing because most BIABers don't sparge and the grain absorption is less, so you need less total water. I use a 10 gal pot for 5 gallon batches. If your grain bill is too big to mash in the pot you can always mash a little thin and dunk sparge in a bucket, or do 2 separate mashes. This wouldn't only be for a barleywine though. I was able to squeeze an 18lb grain bill for a RIS into my 10 gallon pot with a full volume mash and still had about 3 inches of headspace.
 

RM-MN

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But in biab you need a big ass pot right? Cause you have to use the full volume I think. I dont have a nig ass pot yet 😂
You don't have to make any particular size batch. Unlike an extract kit where you get your malt extract in cans or plastic jugs and need to use all of it, you have the opportunity to size your batch to the pot you already have. For instance, I like to use my 5 gallon pot I used for extract brews but with BIAB, I just cut the batch size down to fit since the grains can be weighed out to match. I find that a 2 1/2 gallon batch in a 5 gallon pot works well for me. I could do a 5 gallon batch in my 7 1/2 gallon turkey fryer (and I have) but it barely fits between the stovetop and range hood and my back aches for days if I lift that much at a time anyway. For my last batch I used 5 1/2 pounds of grain for a batch size of 2 1/2 gallons and hit the predicted OG of 1.059. To do that I had to mill my grains fine, none of this LHBS sort of crushed nonsense.
 

McKnuckle

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One of the most liberating things I learned about brewing is when I finally realized that there was nothing truly special about 5 gallon batches. It's such dogma in the homebrew world, and it's really restrictive sometimes. Especially as a newbie. Do you really want to suffer through 50+ bottles of your $h1tty first brewing efforts? (Hint: you don't.)

1, 2, 3 gallons - or any weird fractional value - it's all good. In fact, while I obviously keep my packaging options in mind when I brew, I often plan my recipes by the number of plastic gallon jugs of spring water I need. Each one holds 1.04 gallons. So I'll start with 3.12, or 4.16, etc. - and just make it work.

Granted, all of this means that you need to have a good grasp of your variables and be able to predict outcomes. And that comes with time. Just know that you don't have to follow the "rules" forever.
 
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