Over the last three years I've taught a recipe development class at my local home brew store. This is a ever changing document as I learn more every day.Update: 3-17-12
Beer Recipe Building Workshop
When creating your own recipe you have control over what your beer looks, smells, and tastes like. When creating a recipe you are faced with a myriad of decisions about the process and the choices you make along the way determines the outcome of the finished beer. The artistry of getting all the ingredients together and then the beer makes itself.
Today’s workshop we will focus on the main ingredients of beer. Water, barley, hops, and yeast and what each contributes to the flavor of your beer and how the region of origin of the raw materials gives you insight into there flavor. As well as how each home brewer’s brewing process is a unique part of the recipe that you have to take into account when developing a recipe. Understanding how the brewing process can be controlled to create outcomes you are looking for in your beer.
· - UK Malt- low moisture, slightly darker, ‘maltier’flavor (Maris Otter, Golden Promise)
· - US pale malt- domestic malt to replicate UK malt flavors
· - US 2 row- slightly lighter in color, all purpose malt
· - European Pilsner- Belgian pilsner malt and German pilsner malt
- Vienna/Munich Malts-can be used for base malt creating intensely rich malt flavors (dopplebocks)
Understand the flavor profiles based on color of malt measured in degrees Lovibond. Just like when you toast bread the same flavors are created during the malting/toasting/roasting process called a Maillard Reaction. 25 lovibond malts have a toasted English muffin character. 50-80 lovibond malts have bread crust, caramel tones. 120-150 lovibond you start getting into the raisin, dark pit fruit, and toffee flavors. As you approach 200 lovibonds the flavors begin giving dark coffee character. Chocolate malts are usually 300-500 adding a bittersweet cocoa flavor. To reach the darkest color malts, 600 lovibond, the malted barley is roasted in a drum like coffee beans and these are the malts used to create the opaque beauty of stouts. Experiment with specialty malts. Learn the flavor differences of English crystal 60 and German Cara 60. They are similar but with subtle differences. When designing a recipe think about how you want to arrive at your desired color. Do you want to use mostly base malt and a little black patent malt or do you want to layer depths of flavors from lighter specialty malts to arrive at your desired color. It all depends on the type of character/style you’re going for. Whether it be a schwarzchbier with a simple grist bill or an Imperial Stout that uses a complex bill to layer the flavors that toasted and roasted malted barley can contribute.
· - Rice (if not pre-gelatinized needs to be cooked first)
· - Corn (same as above for rice)
· - Corn Syrup/Dextrose
· - Sugar (sucrose)
· - Wheat Malt (aids in head retention) or Unmalted Wheat
· - Oats (adds creamy texture to mouth feel)
· - Rye (adds peppery characters, adds body and complexity)
· - Other Sugars (molasses, brown sugar, sucanat, turbinado)
· - Alternative Grains (buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, spelt, teff, amaranth)
Using adjuncts can sometimes be just the thing to turn an ordinary stout into something sublime. For Example: Wild Rice adds character to an English bitter or sugar to dry out and add strength to a Belgian strong ale. Also how Rye adds body and flavor to Saison’s and American Pales ales.
The least sexy ingredient that beer is made out of, but it plays a crucial role in how your other ingredients shine through in the final beer. Certain beer styles can be dependent on certain water profiles. The mineral content plays a role in how the bitterness in hops is perceived or to help balance the low ph of dark malts in darker colored styles. There are five historical regions that are known for certain styles of beer, each regions water chemistry complements the styles that arose there.
Burton on Trent- high gypsum, dry bitter finish, low color extraction, low ph improving hop flavor, famous for English IPA
Dublin/Munich/London-high bicarbonates, higher ph, better color extraction, famous for Irish Stout/German Dopplebock/London Porter
Pilsen-low ions (soft water), allows malt and hops to dominate yet remain delicate in flavor, famous for Czech Pilsner
To really dial in on a style you may have to adjust your water with gypsum or calcium carbonate. The water chemistry might be that one change you need to make to get your dopplebock big and chewy like Celebrator. The brewers from each of the above listed regions didn’t set out to create the styles they were famous for, they just wanted to make something good with what was available and the styles were a result of each regions indigenous ingredient (water, malt, hops, and yeast). Well water is usually better than city tap water. You can go in depth as you want with water chemistry but you should be fine using what comes out of your tap. A simple under sink water carbon filter will removes chlorine which may have adverse affects on flavor by reacting with yeast metabolism and creating clorophenols (band aid, fusel alcohols, banana).
On the most basic level hops are used to act as a bitter counterpoint to what would otherwise be a cloyingly sweet beverage. Hops added at different times of the process will contribute different results even with the same hop variety. When thinking about hops and all the variety’s that now are readily accessible consider what you want the hops to contribute to the flavor of the beer. The style you’re brewing will historically suggest using traditional varieties for the style but ultimately youdecide what variety’s to use. As with the water you can break down hop character by region (for the most part)
UK Hops-earthy and grassy hop flavors, with pine and floral aroma,
some spicy character, traditional varieties Kent Golding and Fuggle
German Hops-home of the ‘noble’ varieties of hops. Mellow with a herbal and spicy quality, traditional varieties Hallertau Mittlefruh, Spalt, and Tettnanger
Pacific Northwest Hops-pungent citrus/grapefruit aroma, floral and notes of tropical fruit pineapple and mango, traditional varieties Cascade, Chinook, Centennial, and Amarillo
US Grown descendants of Old World Hop Varieties-this group of hops do a great job of replicating flavors from their relatives. Some examples are Liberty/Mt. Hood/Vanguard descend from Hallertau.
New Zealand Hops-a new hop growing region producing uniquely aromatic new hop varieties. Most famous is the Nelson Sauvin variety which gives a crushed gooseberry, sauvignon blanc character
Other Continental Hops-famous variety’s are the French grown Styrian Golding, Strisslespalt and Czech grown Saaz. The former used in many Belgian ales and the later is the hop for a classic pilsner.
To brew traditionally you’ll want to match hop varieties with style you are brewing, but I’ve had great hefeweizens brewed with pungent Pacific Northwest hops. So play around, see what varieties you like.
First Wort Hopping-lends a interwoven hop flavor and aroma with less harsh bitterness
:60-:45 Addition-bittering hops. Flavor and aromas are lost but bitterness remains
:15-:30 Addition-flavor hops. Adds some bitterness, loses the aroma but maintains flavor of hop
>:10 Addition-aroma hops. Negligible bitterness, the aroma in the nose of your beer
Dry Hopping-over the top aroma, used to create the American IPA, some resiny bitterness
95% of yeast activity produces carbon dioxide and ethanol. The other 5% of the activity produces the flavors of beer. While the yeast is eating and multiplying it is producing a myriad of chemicals:
· Esters- fruity
· Aldehydes- green and red apple
· Phenolics- banana and clove
· Higher Alchohols- fusel alchohols (nail polish remover)
· Organic Acids
Different strains of yeast produce different amounts of each so choose a yeast strain that will complement the style you’re brewing. To some extent you want the yeast to do what the yeast wants to do but you can control the yeast to produce flavors by changing the temperature at which the beer is fermenting. A warmer ferment with create a fruitier aroma. You can make the exact same wort and split the batch, and pitch different yeast in each and there will be drastic differences if one is Chico and one is Belgian. Although it’s the same wort you wouldn’t know it in a blind tasting. So think about the role the yeast will play in the overall impression of the flavors you’re after. Healthy fermentations with temperature control will be the single greatest change you could make that would have the most immediate results. If you are producing wort that is over 1.056 SG there really isn’t enough healthy yeast cells in a smack pack or a vial. If you are producing wort over 1.056 SG I would recommend making a yeast starter. Dry yeast packets offer twice
the amount of healthy cells than liquid yeast.
Fruits & Vegetables
Traditionally fruit was used to sweeten sour beers, Berliner Weisse for example. In American Craft brewing there are many fruit-centric beers on the market. Some examples are:
You could add them fresh to your fermenting bucket of beer or near end of boil, but pectins in the fruit may cause a haze. Other avenue would be aseptic (sanitary) puree, again may need to use pectinase. The other way to go is to add an extract (wonf). This adds a clean, measurable amount of flavor you want. Many commercial breweries use a combination of techniques listed to attain the flavors they are looking for. You may be trying to brew a fruit centric offering or a stout with a hint of cherry, whatever it may be remember that if adding not to boil to add when fermentation is slowing but isn’t done. You will want the yeast to convertthe sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
Spices & Herbs
Before there was beer brewed with hops there was ‘Gruit’ a fermented beverage brewed with a mix of bittering and flavorful herbs and spices. Hops were not used much until the late 17th century. Pierre Celis a renowned brewer famous for the revival of Belgian White style. This style brewed with a focus on spices over hops sheds a light on what pre hopped ales tasted like, though most were brewed with herbs and spices that are now allowed by the FDA now. Spices are fun to play around, walk in the spice aisle and imagine the possibilities. Start conservative with amounts use, you can always add more but can’t take it out. A short list of possibilities:
· Orange Peel (bitter and sweet)
· Coffee (cold infusion)
· Chocolate (nibs, powder)
· Cinnamon (meadowsweet)
· Vanilla (pod, extract)
· Juniper Berry
· Grains of Paradise
· Heather (traditional in Scottish ales)
· Ginger (raw, crystallized)
· Black Tea/Green Tea
· Hot Chilis
· Lemon/Lime peel
· Mints (Spearmint, Peppermint)
Just like a chef all brewers are using the same ingredients, it’s the process of how the ingredients are brought together that elevates these ingredients from ordinary to extra ordinary. All chefs a using the same onions, celery, and carrots, it’s the process and the hands creating the craft that make it great. What’s the difference between an amateur and professional in any industry? It’s the technique and practice of the process. Every aspect of the brewing process affect flavor in many ways. Each decision you make from mash rest temperature, to fermentation temperature, to the level of carbon dioxide in the finished beer plays a role in the flavor of the beer. The overall process and the decisions you make from grain to glass is just as important as the base malt you choose. You have the opportunity to decide the overall outcome of the beer at different stages of the brewing process. We will go over different critical control points to focus on that dictate the overall outcome of your beer.
Fine (better efficiency, more tannins extracted)
Course (lower efficiency, less tannins extracted)
First big decision is mash temperature.During mash rest you decide how dry or sweet the finished beer will be. This is one thing extract cannot replicate. During mash rest the temperature you mash in at influences your finishing gravity. You need to take this into consideration when formulating a recipe. Are you trying to brew a dry pale ale or a full bodied stout? A mash rest of 145-149f will create a more fermentable wort (dry). A mash rest of 150-154f creates a medium body. With a mash rest of 155-158f creates the least fermentable wort (sweet). For example a test was done at Otter Creek Brewery under the controlled brewing conditions. Otter Creek brewed the same recipe with the only difference being the mash rest temperature. One mashed at 149f the other at 156f. The difference of the final gravity was: 149f=1.011 and 156f=1.014. This illustrates a substantial variance in final gravity giving you an opportunity to further decide the outcome of your brew.
Length of Boil (concentration of wort raises gravity)
Precipitate Haze (not using Irish Moss for cloudy styles of beer
Addition of Hop Bill (when hops are added affects bitterness, flavor, and aroma)
Boil off Volatiles (DMS, canned corn. Myrcene, onion/drain)
To long of a cooling process can increase chances of DMS being re-absorbed into the wort. Also the chance for wild yeast and bacteria to get in the wort before you’re brewer’s yeast does.
Extremely important for healthy yeast growth to produce cleaner, crisper finished beer. Poor aeration can lead to longer lag, poor fermentations, off flavors, and even stalled fermentations. So unless you’re using dry yeast which has oxygen in the granules then add aeration to your recipe as well.
Yeast Pitching Rate
How much yeast to pitch? Both over and under pitching could cause issues. Under pitching could increase’s the ester (fruity aromas) production by the yeast during fermentation, changing the overall character of the beer. Intentionally under pitching a little in style’s that depend on ester and phenol production by the yeast that could benefit from slightly under pitching. Slightly over pitching will produce cleaner (lower ester production), beers. A German Altbier would benefit from slightly over pitching and fermenting in the low 60’s producing one of the classic hybrid ale/lagers. All of these factors are part of your overall recipe to control the flavors.
Temperature control during fermentation is crucial for a healthy, steady fermentation to your target final gravity. If you were to graph your starting gravity on X axis and length of time on Y axis you would want a nice steady slope down over 4-7 days for ales and 7-14 days for lagers. Different yeast strains have different ideal fermentation temperatures. Belgian ales prefer to ferment warm, over 70f. American and English ales ferment traditionally in the upper 60’s. Lagers prefer fermentation temperatures from 32f-58f.
After fermentation has finished you don’t want to leave the beer on the yeast cake for more than 4 weeks. Autolysis (dead yeast) could occur creating all sorts of nasty off flavors (roast beef, think vegemite). If you rack to a secondary vessel or a keg you will want to purge each sanitized vessel with CO2 if possible. Oxygen is only good for the yeast at first but then after fermentation oxygen can wreak havoc on the flavor of your beer. Oxidation tastes like wet cardboard. By purging the oxygen out of the vessels you are racking into you are protecting the flavor of your beer so it tastes better longer. This is the endless battle for craft breweries, trying to prevent the inevitable oxidation of the beer by having low dissolved oxygen levels of beer in the bright tanks, bottles, and kegs.
Does a label make a beer taste better? A cool name, maybe, but proper carbonation, a nice head and lacing do their part to help in the enjoyment of your creation. If you feel the head and lacing are lacking try adding some wheat malt and/or Weyermann Cara Foam. Also try using 50/50 corn sugar/DME to prime instead of just corn sugar to prime.
At the end of the day you control what flavors you put into your beers. Get to know the raw materials. What they taste like and how they affect your beer. Whatever your process is it’s important to keep track of the process so you can have repeatability and consistency. Every condition affects each batch, so when you do make changes try to make only one at a time so you can notice and appreciate the difference the change makes. One malt, hop, yeast, process change at a time will help you to better understand your process and ingredients. Matt Bryndilson of Firestone Walker said once that, “He doesn’t know many ingredients, but the ones he does know, he knows very well”. Whenever I’m designing a new recipe I use all the references that are available. For example if I’m coming up with a brown ale recipe I’ll look at BJCP style guidelines, home brewing books, brewing text books and the internet to see what others have used or recommend. I usually always find at least one specialty malt or hop variety I wasn’t thinking about using, or a different yeast strain to accentuate malt flavors that others have had good results with. It’s up to you build on what others have learned and see what works for you and your setup. Recipe building is about understanding what is going on with raw materials and your process and the effects on the finished beer. If you don’t get the appearance, aroma, or flavor your after then make educated decisions regarding raw materials and/or process to help nudge your beer the direction you want it to be. So take the cornucopia of malt, grain, hops, herbs, spices, and yeast and create a fermented beverage of your own design. Cheers!
http://beercalculus.hopville.com A free online resource for recipe building
http://www.promash.com/ Brewing software $24.95
http://www.beersmith.com/ Brewing software $21.95
http://www.bjcp.org/docs/2008_Guidelines.pdf Offers information to better inform your recipe building. Suggest grains to use in styles as well as target gravity and color
http://braukaiser.com/ In depth aspects of brewing, from at home water testing, to yeast culturing.
http://www.ezwatercalculator.com/ Water Chemistry Calculator
http://www.brewersfriend.com/water-chemistry/ Water Chemistry Calculator
http://www.brewersfriend.com/brewhouse-efficiency/ Calculate Brewhouse efficiency
http://www.tastybrew.com/calculators/priming.html Priming sugar Calculator
http://www.mrmalty.com/yeast-tools.php Yeast strains by Origin of Brewery
http://www.brettanomycesproject.com/ In depth study about Brettanomyces
http://www.beerlabelizer.com/ Make your own labels!
http://labeley.com/ Make your own labels!
http://www.hopfentreader.com/ Inspirational Home brew Blog
http://www.themadfermentationist.com/ Detailed Home brew Blog
http://barclayperkins.blogspot.com/ Historically accurate recipes (ie: “black ipa” first brewed in 19th century)