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A Walk Through Creating An Original Recipe



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A Walk Through A Brew

A Few Recipes

Creating Your Own Recipes:

How Is It Done?

The Importance of Keeping Notes





A Walk Through Creating An Original Recipe

Danger - Quicksand!

Frequently Asked Questions

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What Is Sensible Mole?

Contact The Head Brewer




In order to create our own recipe, we first of all need a recipe relating to a beer we have tasted and formed an opinion on. So let’s take Brew A as a jumping off point; hopefully you’ve brewed and tasted this beer by now and made your Tasting Notes, but for the purposes of this exercise it doesn't matter if you haven't. The recipe for Brew A appears on the 'A Walk Through A Brew' page, but for ease of reference, here it is again:


 Brew A


5000 gms pale malt - Pearl in this instance, but it doesn’t really matter.

500 gms Crystal Malt

275 gms Torrified Wheat


2 sachets of Safale yeast

Hop Schedule:

Start of boil:

18 gms Cascade @ 4.8 AA = 9.30 IBU

37 gms East Kent Goldings @ 4.8% AA = 19.11 IBU

37 gms Willamette @ 4% AA = 15.93 IBU

  TOTAL IBU: 44.34

 15 mins from end of boil:

10 gms Cascade

10 gms Willamette

and Protofloc

5 mins from end of boil:

10 gms Cascade

10 gms Willamette



Let’s consider the malt first. Brew A was approximately 5.5% and had a very ‘full on’ taste, and the 500 grams of Crystal Malt helped to give it this very rounded taste, as well as an underlying sweetness; we know this because this is what Crystal Malt does to a beer (see the ‘Adjuncts‘ page). But let’s say you don’t want that much sweetness in your beer and neither do you want a beer that is ‘in your face’ - in that case let’s try using, say, 3750 grams of pale malt rather than the 5000 grams used in Brew A. Let’s also reduce the Crystal Malt, from 500 to 250 grams. We’ll keep the Torrified Wheat in the recipe because this adjunct allegedly aids head formation and retention. The maximum amount of Torrified Wheat we should use in any recipe is 5% of the grain bill. In this case our grain bill is 4000 grams, so we need 200 grams of Wheat. And that’s it, that’s the malt for our new recipe (let’s call it Brew B) sorted! Painless wasn't it?

could this be why you don't see many Germans drinking Spitfire? 

Deciding on the hops to use is a little more complex and a little more fun. Again, let’s use as a start point the hop characteristics of Brew A. This was comparatively heavily hopped with an IBU of about 44. Let’s say you prefer less bitterness in your next brew (particularly as there is also less malt in your next brew) BUT you quite liked the smooth, spicy, floral, herbal and blackcurrant aspects of the hops in Brew A. So let’s go for a lower IBU (therefore, less bitterness) of, say, 36, but we’ll still use the same type of hops we used in Brew A.

At this point you’ll need to fire up Promash, choose ’New Recipe’ and do some serious ‘Edit’ in the hops section. Messing about with the figures in Promash tells us we could go with the following at the start of the boil:


  East Kent Goldings: 21 gms @ 4.8AA = IBU of 10.85

  Cascade: 24 gms @ 4.8AA = IBU of 12.40

  Willamette: 30 gms @ 4 AA = IBU of 12.91

This gives us a total IBU of 36.16. We were shooting for 36, so that’s good enough. Of course there are many variations of amounts of these three types of hop we could use in order to arrive at a total IBU of 36, but I believe using these amounts will mean no one hop will dominate, with any luck.

With regard to the ’late addition’ hops, let’s say you like the subtle herbal/blackcurrant of Willamette so purely as an experiment you change the amounts from those used in Brew A and add 15 grams of Willamette 15 minutes from the end of the boil, and another 15 grams of Willamette with 5 minutes to go, giving East Kent Goldings and Cascade the old heave-ho as far as late additions are concerned.

So that’s one possible hop schedule sorted out for your new brew. Alternatively...

good enough to drink!Let’s say you want to use totally different hops to those used in Brew A but still want an approximate IBU of 36. After surfing the internet to read about hop characteristics (if you don’t know where to start, try your online homebrew shop  ) let’s say you decide to opt for a combination of two types, Styrian Goldings and Mount Hood. It’s back to Promash again, and messing about with the figures tells us we could use these amounts at the start of the boil:

 Styrian Goldings: 35 grams @ 4.8AA = IBU of 18.08

 Mount Hood: 41 grams @ 4.2AA = IBU of 18.53

This gives us a total IBU of 36.61, as near as makes no difference to our target of 36. Again, using similar amounts and similar IBUs, hopefully no one type of hop will dominate.

As far as late addition hops are concerned, we read (in the Brupaks guide) that whilst Mount Hood has a mild aroma, Styrian Goldings has a "beautiful, perfumey" aroma. We would suggest in this case that we choose one type of hop for the late additions, rather than a mixture of the two, depending on what we are after - a mild aroma or a "perfumey" one. Whatever the choice is, chuck in about 15 or 20 grams 15 minutes from the end of the boil and the same amount again 5 minutes before the end; don‘t worry too much about late addition amounts - they’re really NOT crucial.

Okay, so our new personally designed unique recipe, Brew B, is really taking shape and we only have the yeast to consider... how do we know which one to use?

Rightly or wrongly (and the manufacturers will scream, "WRONGLY!!!") I always look upon dried yeast such as Safale as cheap stuff that will do a very good job, but in a neutral, efficient kind of way, without adding much to the finished beer. I don’t want this to sound like a criticism of Safale - in fact, I use Safale more than any other yeast - but using sachets of dried yeast, at least to me, feels like walking past a nice restaurant on the way to buy a takeaway pizza. (Oh, the emails I’m going to get over this!!!)

river otter ale (not relevant, I just liked the picture)So by all means stick to Safale, but let’s say we’re feeling adventurous and feel like using something exotic this time round. It’s time to go shopping again so the Wyeast site is as good as any - click on and read the profiles of the many yeasts on offer. But it’s important to bear in mind what the yeast will be used on; our new beer is basically a comparatively lightly hopped quaffing ale which will be 4% ABV or less; it’s a delicate flower so we need to choose a yeast that will complement the characteristics we have already built in to the beer. For the sake of the exercise let’s say we’ve had a good read and have decided on ‘1318 London Ale Yeast III’. We’ve plumped for this one because the yeast is described as having a great malt and hop profile, brings to the beer a fruity, very light, soft balanced palate, and finishes slightly sweet. Sounds to us, therefore, that it will do the job without being overwhelming and drowning or dominating the qualities brought to the beer by the malts and hops we’ve chosen; we may have struck a good balance here - but only brewing the finished recipe will tell and that’s half the fun!

And that’s the basis of recipe design; even though we began considering Brew A we now have a completely different beer. I sincerely hope you brew this new beer to see what it tastes like compared to Brew A. Remember, if you do brew it, write everything down and don’t forget the all important Tasting Notes, which will give you clues as to how to improve this beer according to your own individual tastes the next time you brew it...

Any article about recipe design would not be complete without a word on Beer Styles. Styles of beer are well defined, primarily for the purposes of judging competitions. You may find the definitions of each style helpful, or you may find them restricting. My advice is not to take them seriously unless you’re entering a competition - after all, rules are meant to be broken! Here’s an exhaustive (and exhausting) list of beer styles:

Have fun with it!


On the next page is a word to the wise... Danger! Quicksand!


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