That should work!
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I have tried adding bitterness by making a 1-gal batch of beer to add to a 5-gal batch of beer and that was helpful.
JP's brewing in Stevens point, WI has a blonde stout. It is rather sweet with the flavor of white chocolate. Not quite what I would think of as a stout but interesting none the less.
Do you use 5.2 in the mash, in sparge water, or both? If your sparge water is over 5.8pH (most tap water is) and over 170F, you'll extract husk tannins. I would definitely lower that sparge water temp.
Good points. But what about the varying opinions on how pitching rate influences ester production? Some say less yeast equals more esters, others say the opposite.
I try to think of the final product and move backwards by determining what ingredients will get me there. If there is a beer that I want to emulate to a certain degree I try to find as much information if nothing else so I have a good idea of how they do it. I have never tried a clone recipe but have definitely used commerical breweries as influences in some of my beers by doing a bit of research and in some cases contacting the brewery directly.
If I am trying to brew a particular style I usually find a good commercial example or award winning recipe to get ideas from but not copy. I did that recently for a Kolsch