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There's Nothin' to it but to Brew It! Developing your own Homebrew Recipes

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As you progress in homebrewing you will likely find yourself wanting to move away from the normal kit beers, and wanting create a beer of your own. Recipe development can be fun and very rewarding there is nothing like tasting an amazing beer made with your own recipe, a beer that would not exist had you not developed the recipe for it.

I often enjoy making beer styles I am not entirely acquainted with, as well as styles I know well. When making my own recipe I usually begin with research, the BJCP lists style characteristics for most all styles of beer that you can use to get an idea of what the beer should taste like, the OG, FG and IBUs you should be targeting to land within a given style, as well as good commercial examples of the style in question & a reference to malts, hops & yeast typically used in the style. Don't be afraid to deviate from this a bit if you would like it is a guide and a lot of brewers pro & hobby do not strictly adhere to all of the guidelines.
You will also want to research your ingredients. It is important to know that with some things a little goes a long way, like with Honey malt for instance it sounds delicious & it is, but too much can be too sweet for the slight honey flavor you were going for.

Another great research tool is to look up some recipes that other people have created for the style, this way you can get an idea of what are common ingredients that are used to create the style you are looking for. HomeBrewTalk has a great recipe database that can help when researching your beer.
You can also go out, and purchase classic examples of the style of beer you would like to create if you are unfamiliar with a particular style this is a great way to get a better idea of how the beer should taste, however personally I like to just use web research & buy some classic examples after the beer is ready to see how close I came to the style... I think it is more fun that way.
So, now that you have an idea of the characteristics of the style & ingredients used, how do you get started? Well a great place to start is with a software program like BeerSmith, or a free version like, Brewtarget, or even an online recipe calculator like the Recipe Builder at Brewersfriend.com. A recipe calculator can give you a good idea of how a beer will turn out before you brew it.
In most all of the brewing software available there is an option to select the style of beer you are trying to make, which will give you the stats on a given style to compare with the beer you are making. Being able to compare your beer to the stats on a given style you are trying to replicate as you choose your ingredients can be a great tool.
Tip
Keep recipes simple you don't need eighteen different malts & ten different hops to make good beer and will likely muddy the taste that way, simple recipes are often the best, they allow the ingredients to shine & the drinker to really experience the flavor that the ingredients have to offer instead of making them search through a muddled "brown" mess of taste. Try to limit the number of ingredients you use in each beer and if you don't know why you are using a particular ingredient then don't use it.
After you have used your research & software to develop your recipe, all that's left is to assemble your ingredients, and brew up some delicious beer!

As I said earlier if I am unfamiliar with the beer style I brewed once it is done, this is the part where I like to pick up some commercial examples & compare my beer to professional examples of the style to see how close I am to some classic examples.
Whether you are making a recipe for a style that is foreign to you, or a style you are very acquainted with the process is much the same and very rewarding, there is nothing quite like drinking a beer that is entirely your own creation, so don't be afraid to venture away from those kits & try something 100% yours.
Cheers
 
Great article. I love comparing that first beer to the commercial example.
Also like the less is more advice with regards to number of ingredients.
 
One thing I love to do, is if I drink a commercial beer and I love it, I'll look the beer up online. Most breweries have the ingredients listed. Sometimes they'll have the SG, SRM, and other things. If I like the hop aromas of one I'll make not of the hops they used. That will help you determine what you do and don't like for your own brews.
 
Designing Great Beers by Daniels was a huge contributor to my knowledge on recipe design and I still go back to it regularly when trying a new style
 
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