Membership questions? Log in issues? Email info@brewersassociation.org

Author Topic: Picking Ingredients for a Reason  (Read 1093 times)

Offline Tfwebster

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 92
Picking Ingredients for a Reason
« on: September 01, 2020, 04:43:42 pm »
I'm relatively new to all grain brewing and very new to recipe design. Our brew club president talks about choosing each ingredient for a reason.  Obviously that reason is always partly style, and I know experience is a great (but kind of expensive) teacher. Any great sources to learn about the nuts and bolts of ingredients? Like if I want to really dive deep into malts, where do I go? Thank you.
If reading about homebrewing is your thing, join Brewer's Book Club at  https://www.facebook.com/groups/754108348475546/

Online BrewBama

  • Official Poobah of No Life. (I Got Ban Hammered by Drew)
  • *********
  • Posts: 5566
Picking Ingredients for a Reason
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2020, 05:09:30 pm »
I began simplifying my grain bills a while back based roughly on Drew Beechum’s ‘Brewing on the Ones’ concept presented at AHA HomeBrew Conference (below) combined with John Palmer’s template found in his book How to Brew, Chapter 20 Experiment! — Developing your own Recipes.  I’ve gone thru iterations of this concept and refined my template to my tastes.

I believe kitchen sink beers rarely fare well. The simplicity just makes life easier, reduces inventory, and produces some fairly tasty beers IMO.  Most of my recipes limit base (or base combos), C malts, roast malts, unmalted adjuncts, sugars, etc.

I believe these are starting points and each brewer must develop their own recipes based on experience over time.


https://youtu.be/0sSKHzmhrzY


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
« Last Edit: September 01, 2020, 05:48:56 pm by BrewBama »

Offline Megary

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 913
Re: Picking Ingredients for a Reason
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2020, 05:18:36 pm »
Your club President gave you good advice.

Pick up a copy of Palmer’s How to Brew.  It really is Brewing 101.  He talks plenty about the different malts: Base Malts, Kilned, Stewed, Roasted, Adjuncts, etc., their flavor characteristics, purpose, typical applications.  And he gives a good description of how an all-grain mash works: conversion, pH, crush, etc.  Nuts and bolts for sure.  There are other great sources as well, but Palmer’s book is a nice, all inclusive study.

But my experience says that you shouldn’t trust anyone’s description when it comes to flavor.  Only you can determine what a Chocolate Malt tastes like (nothing like chocolate to me) or Victory Malt or Maris Otter...

I know Denny has preached this before, and I’m a firm believer as well: crush a couple of ounces of grain and mini-mash them in a coffee cup.  Let the grains steep for 30-60 minutes.  Doesn’t have to get fancy.  Then taste the mash and write down every note you can think of that describes the malt.  Color, aroma, flavor, mouthfeel, whatever.  IMO, that is the best way to determine whether or not you get roast from Brown malt, or bread crust from Munich.  If you can do a few malts at the same time, then mix them together in varying proportions, a tsp. of this, two of that.  Again take notes of what combinations work and which ones suck.  Some will definitely suck.

It’s a fun process.  Good luck.

Offline Wilbur

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 871
Re: Picking Ingredients for a Reason
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2020, 05:52:01 pm »
I haven't tried this yet, but I might give the single step infusion mash procedure they describe. I don't know if I get that much from chewing on raw grain. If you have a few mason jars or pint glasses and a cooler, you can probably run a bunch at once using the cooler for a hot water bath to maintain temperature instead of the hot plate. I might try it this weekend.


Online BrewBama

  • Official Poobah of No Life. (I Got Ban Hammered by Drew)
  • *********
  • Posts: 5566
Re: Picking Ingredients for a Reason
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2020, 06:10:29 pm »
I haven't tried this yet, but I might give the single step infusion mash procedure they describe. I don't know if I get that much from chewing on raw grain. If you have a few mason jars or pint glasses and a cooler, you can probably run a bunch at once using the cooler for a hot water bath to maintain temperature instead of the hot plate. I might try it this weekend.
You could try the Hot Steep Method

50 g of base malt (100%), or 50% (25g) base - 50% (25g) specialty malt, or 15% (7.5g) dark roast - 85% (42.5g) base malt

Grind malt in spice grinder 10 sec

Add malt and 400 ml 149*F water to thermos

Shake 20 sec

Rest for 15 min

Shake for 20 sec

Filter malt from wort (Hario v60 filter recommended)

Add wort back to thermos and filter thru grain again (vorlauf)

Taste test


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Online hopfenundmalz

  • Global Moderator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 10496
  • Milford, MI
Re: Picking Ingredients for a Reason
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2020, 06:53:28 pm »
Many commercial breweries have a minimum selection of malts. It streamlines the inventory, less chance for mistakes.

For production beers Sierra Nevada has only C60 as the Crystal malt.

Ayinger has Pils, Munich, CaraMunich and Carafe (maybe 2 Carafas). They have malted wheat for Weißens, of course.

Jeff Rankert
AHA Lifetime Member
BJCP National
Ann Arbor Brewers Guild
Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!

Offline dannyjed

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1447
  • Toledo, OH
Re: Picking Ingredients for a Reason
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2020, 06:25:21 am »
For me, it took time and experience to distinguish the difference in malt flavors. Also, it took time to put into words what I was tasting. I suggest starting out with base malt (Pale, Marris Otter, Pils, Munich, Vienna, etc.) before moving onto specialty grains since they make up most of the grain bill.
Dan Chisholm

Online tommymorris

  • Official Poobah of No Life. (I Got Ban Hammered by Drew)
  • *********
  • Posts: 3661
Re: Picking Ingredients for a Reason
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2020, 07:12:40 am »
My method of recipe design is

1. Read a lot of posts on this forum. I search for the style I am interested in. There are always quite a few posts.

2. Review award winning recipes in the AHA recipe database on the brew guru app.

Through experience I know how bitter I like my beer, what styles I like, and I have learned what ingredients I prefer (hops, malts, yeasts, etc).

I don’t enter my beer in competitions and usually I am the only one drinking it. But, I wanted to point out the those two resources.

Offline Kevin

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 636
  • Great beer. Less work. More fun.
Re: Picking Ingredients for a Reason
« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2020, 11:15:30 am »
Mastering Homebrew by Randy Mosher is a good book to have. So much of us focus on the numbers of brewing... weights, volumes, gravity, etc. Then there is the science of brewing... understanding PH, enzymes, proteins, etc. And while Randy touches on all of the he also includes the artistry involved in making beer. What looks good on paper may not appeal to the eye, nose or mouth in the end result. And being a graphic artist by trade Randy's book is loaded with easy to read and understand graphs and illustrations. I have several books for designing beer but this is the one I go to the most.
“He was a wise man who invented beer.”
- Plato

Offline Cliffs

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 546
Re: Picking Ingredients for a Reason
« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2020, 11:45:04 am »
I haven't tried this yet, but I might give the single step infusion mash procedure they describe. I don't know if I get that much from chewing on raw grain. If you have a few mason jars or pint glasses and a cooler, you can probably run a bunch at once using the cooler for a hot water bath to maintain temperature instead of the hot plate. I might try it this weekend.

Im with you on the eating grain thing. I dont get too much from it. I can tell the difference between a dark caramel malt versus a bae malt, but past that, not much.

as far as picking ingredients for a reason, sometimes its best to start at the end and work back. Picture your finished pint, what does it look like, smell like and taste like. Then research ingredients and work backwards from there.

My next beer will be a pale ale, its going to be golden, but not light yellow, it will have a mild, sweet, grainy flavor with a firm bitterness that cleanses the palate. I want the hop flavor to be pronounced but not overwhelming, with some grapefruit, and bright grassy notes.

With all this in mind my recipe would be something like

90% pale malt
10% light crystal malt
1 hour mash at 152 degrees
OG 1.055
FG.1.012
fermented with a clean ale yeast
Bittering hops at 60 minutes to about 30 ibus
1 ounce each of Cascade and Aurora at 20 minutes and 5 minutes left in the boil, and an ounce of cascade at whirlpool.
water profile would favor sulfates to chlorides at about a 2:1 ratios, 150PPM sulfates, 75PPM chlorides, i might need to use a little lactic acid to get my ph right

Online hopfenundmalz

  • Global Moderator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 10496
  • Milford, MI
Re: Picking Ingredients for a Reason
« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2020, 12:59:59 pm »
The hot steep method can help do what you want. You do have to brew to really determine the malts character.

http://blog.brewingwithbriess.com/the-hot-steep-method-step-by-step-instructions/
Jeff Rankert
AHA Lifetime Member
BJCP National
Ann Arbor Brewers Guild
Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!

Offline Tfwebster

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 92
Re: Picking Ingredients for a Reason
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2020, 07:12:18 pm »
Thanks, all.
If reading about homebrewing is your thing, join Brewer's Book Club at  https://www.facebook.com/groups/754108348475546/

Offline Drewch

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 415
  • Just this guy, you know?
Re: Picking Ingredients for a Reason
« Reply #12 on: September 04, 2020, 10:47:32 pm »
I'm also a relative newbie myself. I bought a couple oz of about a dozen different malts from my LHBS and did minimashes of each.  That was definitely helpful.

If I were going to do it again, I'd do what was recommended above and do some combinations of the specially malts with a "neutral" base malt (2-row or pilsner, maybe) just because you're never going to do a recipe that's 100%, say, black patent.

The other thing I've been doing is small (2ish gallon) split batches where I vary only one ingredient between them.  For example, the same grist bill with different yeast. Or everything the same except I spiked one batch with some chocolate malt.
The Other Drew

Home fermentations since 2019.

Online BrewBama

  • Official Poobah of No Life. (I Got Ban Hammered by Drew)
  • *********
  • Posts: 5566
Picking Ingredients for a Reason
« Reply #13 on: September 05, 2020, 08:12:18 am »
Where Drew uses Brewing on the Ones to mean one base, one color/flavor malt/adjunct, one sugar, one hop, one spice, I find that a bit too restrictive. I do agree that the minimum requirement to reach a goal should be used.

I’ve taken his concept and applied it a bit differently: I divide grains into five general categories.  I guess my version would be ‘base + one each’.

I try to select a base (or combination of base malts) plus one each per category of the other grains (only if needed):

Base: Pils, Brewer’s Malt, Pale, Pale Ale, 6-row, Vienna, Munich (some beers can be brewed with a single base or combination of just base malts alone)

...then one of each category:
1. C malt: C#, Cara-, Crystal, Special B, DRC, etc
2. Roasted malt: Amber, Brown, Special Roast, Choc, Carafa, Black, etc
3. Special: Victory, Melanoidin, Biscuit, Aromatic, Wheat malt, Honey malt, etc
4. Unmalted adjuncts: Barley, Wheat, Rye, Oats, Corn, Rice, Roasted Barley, etc

I think in percents and rarely use more than 5% of C malts, and even less of roasted malt and specialty malts.  Unmalted grains may go a bit more depending on the desired result (but I rarely if ever use corn or rice).

I will use a single sugar adjunct (turbinado, candi syrup, inverts, lactose, etc) to play a role in certain styles.

...but I use hop and spice combinations to taste.  Sometimes it’s one hop but more than likely two or three.  Same with spices (e.g. orange peel + coriander, nutmeg + cinnamon, etc).

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
« Last Edit: September 05, 2020, 08:30:11 pm by BrewBama »