Writing Beer Recipes

Posted on 02.04.10 10:13PM under Brewing

In the world of homebrewing, there’s a common progression. First, one starts with kits. Premade recipes in little cardboard boxes all packaged with instructions. Brewer’s Best, for example. Then one moves on to the recipes of others, like clones of famous beers or just highly regarded tried and true homebrewer favorites. Now it’s on to the SNPA clone or Denny’s RyePA. Finally one day, the intrepid homebrewer decides it is time to stray from the beaten path and derive a novel recipe for an intended flavor profile.

The culmination of brewing experience gives the knowledge of the influence of each ingredient on the finished product. But at the same time, there are hints of apprehension around the unknown. I mean, it’s hard to tell what exactly will happen as a result of the addition of an ounce of Cascades at 15 minutes.

Here are a few rules for making your own recipes followed by an idea.

  1. Keep it simple: Making a recipe doesn’t have to be tough. In the end, a bunch of extract and a few ounces of hops will make a perfectly agreeable beer. Pick some stats: color, gravity, IBU. Then put together some ingredients to meet those stats. And there you go. Your very own beer.
  2. Leverage the past: Look at the recipes you’ve already brewed. Think about how the beers came out. Consider taking one of your old favorites, and modify one thing. Voila! Your own recipe! With minimum risk. Then build from there.
  3. Just do it: In the end, you can read all you want, but you just have to try something. The more you make the more you get to know how it all works. Consider it an iterative process. You get an idea of what you want to make. You come up with a recipe. It is off by a little bit in some certain way. You adjust the recipe to address that deficiency. It is off in a different way. You adjust. It is not perfect. You adjust. And so on.

Now: here is the idea. Imagine if you could pick your beer style and there was a computer program to make the recipe for you. What do you think? Have you ever seen anything like that? Could it even work?

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