Brew Your Own Beer Recipe
Go beyond the standard beer kits and build your own recipes. Homebrew stores have some good kits but there’s nothing quite like when you brew your own beer recipe. In the long run you’ll also save a few bucks buying your ingredients in bulk compared to buying kits. You can go with pen and paper but I’d suggest finding a brewing software you’re comfortable with.
The easiest way to start with your first few recipes is to actually copy someone else’s recipe and modify it. You can do everything from changing a few ingredients to modifying hop schedules and mash temperatures. The reality is almost everything has been made before so why not skip some trial and error. If your modifications work then you can keep tinkering till you get the best recipe you can. You can even try combining a few recipes with the same style to make them your own. Finally, don’t forget to give thanks or a shout out to anyone who inspired your recipe. I love hearing from someone who brewed my recipe or even better improved it.
Make sure to pick a good recipe to start from:
Commercial clones offer you one of the best ways to get a good base recipe. Some are deciphered by homebrewers while others are actually released from the pro brewers themselves.
Many of the popular online brew stores actually include downloadable recipes with their kits. Do try to throw them a bone if you end up with a solid recipe.
Finally, you can try scouring online or homebrew magazines to find recipes from other homebrewers. Try to stick to ones with some feedback to give your recipe the best shot.
The most important thing to pay attention to in your recipe is each grain’s recommended maximum percent amount. You can generally find these in your brewing software or online in a malt’s description. Most base grains are perfectly fine for up to 100% of the grain bill but specialty malts tend to cap at a suggestion of 15% or less. Be careful as these percentages won’t always work if you go specialty malt heavy in your recipe!
Specialty malts are very important to look at because too much can easily throw off your whole recipe. One issue comes from the diastatic power of specialty grains which tends to be on the lower end. Diastatic power is a fancy term for the malt’s enzyme power to break down complex sugars into simple ones that are easily fermentable. Without enough diastatic power, you’ll end up with a very sweet beer. The last issue lies with heavily roasted malts or other potent malts as they’ll overpower your other flavors in excess quantities.
The hop schedule isn’t too hard to come up with once you figure out the flavors you’re going for. Pick a hop that has complimentary flavors and aromas to the style you’re brewing. Remember that your first hop addition at the beginning of the boil will contribute mostly bitterness and little flavor. As you get closer to the end of the boil your hops will contribute more flavor and less bitterness. Dry hopping will provide a huge portion of your hop aromas. Do use a software to calculate IBU’s and stay within the styles range for balance sake. Remember to also pay attention to your hop’s alpha acids as each crop will vary.
Last but not least we can’t forget the yeast. Once you master the grain bill and hops you’ll want to play with your single-celled friend. Yeast plays a huge role in either letting the malt and hops shine or adding the subtle nuisances that make a good beer great. Try playing with different strains and different temperatures to see what happens. It’s amazing how different a recipe can turn out by changing fermentation temperatures just a bit.
Charlie Papazian said it best with “Relax. Don’t worry. And have a homebrew.”
Everything won’t always work out but sticking to the above should give you a good start to brew your own beer recipe. Eventually, you’ll figure what ingredients work and will be able to come up with your own full recipe. Above all remember to enjoy homebrewing and not turn it into a job.