Author Topic: Recipe Development  (Read 1466 times)

Offline tomsawyer

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1681
    • View Profile
Recipe Development
« on: June 13, 2011, 08:37:49 AM »
For those of you that like to tweak and come up with your own recipes, how does your thought process work and what references do you utilize in finding a base recipe to work from?

Myself, I usually look at the BJCP style description, then I go to BCS and to Northern Brewer's recipes, and work from there.  I'll also check Designing Great Beers if the style is covered, although I can tell the info is somewhat dated as far as the types of specialty malts involved.  And lets face it, in a lot of cases the specialty malts make the difference.  I'll brew the beer and evaluate it, then consider changes at that point.  I've just started entering a few beers in comps, and these evaluations also help.

So how do you experts develop these excellent recipes I'm drinking at the competitions?  I'm sure a good brew club comes into play for some.
Lennie
Hannibal, MO

Online morticaixavier

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 5680
  • Davis, CA
    • View Profile
    • The Best Artist in the WORLD!!!!!
Re: Recipe Development
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2011, 08:43:29 AM »
although I am NOT an expert my process goes something like this

Get an idea for a beer
Search the interwebs for as many difference recipes as I can find for that style
Try to distill the basics of the style i.e. what specialty malts in what proportions do I see fairly commonly
simplify everything (I tend towards very simple malt bills at least to start with)
decide how much I want to diverge from the basic pattern I have discerned.
create a starting point recipe.
Post it here for feedback.
tweak, brew, tweak (iterate endlessly)

That being said I have never entered a comp and have only gotten some feedback from the brew club so all my recipes might be nasty, although I think some of the best feedback is from non-trained tasters as, while they may not be able to pick out particular off flavours by name, they can tell you if a beer is tasty and if they would want to drink more of it.
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time" - A. Einstein

Jonathan I Fuller

Offline tomsawyer

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1681
    • View Profile
Re: Recipe Development
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2011, 08:49:18 AM »
I should also say that I have quite a few style-specific books and I'll peruse them to refresh my memory on specifics.

Mort using the forums to get recipe critiques is helpful, I probably haven't utilized that resource as much as I should.
Lennie
Hannibal, MO

Online denny

  • Administrator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 11659
  • Noti OR [1991.4, 287.6deg] AR
    • View Profile
    • Dennybrew
Re: Recipe Development
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2011, 08:50:13 AM »
If I'm brewing a recipe that comes from a style, I do pretty much like you do, Lennie.  Although I tend to use Noonan's "Seven Barrels Brewery" as a guideline before I look at BCS.  The I buy a few beers of the style and sit down and drink them while reading guidelines, recipes and descriptions.  I try to think about identifying what those sources are telling me, while at the same time forming my own tho0ughts about the flavors.  The I turn on the "taste imagination" and try to get a picture in my mind of what flavors I'm shooting for.  Finally, I start thinking about what ingredients will give me those flavors and how to use them.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

www.dennybrew.com

The best, sharpest, funniest, weirdest and most knowledgable minds in home brewing contribute on the AHA forum. - Alewyfe

Offline tomsawyer

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1681
    • View Profile
Re: Recipe Development
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2011, 09:12:39 AM »
Yet another book I don't have!  I will remedy that.  I do typically try some commercial examples of styles, in fact thats often how I decide I want to even try brewing one.  I guess I'm lacking the specific experience to go from tasting notes to types of specialty malts, and/or I'm just not thinking about it in an orderly manner.

I have begun to suspect that I'm overusing the specialty malts and sugars in a lot of cases, and have made a conscious attempt to use a light hand with these in recent batches.

In some respects I think that tweaking a recipe from a BCS or some established recipe resource, is a losing proposition since it was tweaked to that point in the first place.  I might do better to just read the style guidelines and like Denny said, use my own imagination from the git-go.  I'm kind of liking this as a philosophical jumping-off point.
By the way Denny, I brewed Waldo Lake amber yesterday just about as close to the recipe as I could.  My only change to to breing it in at 1.055 OG.  I know, life begins at 60 but my day ends at 7:30 when I drink a couple of 1.064 OG beers.
Lennie
Hannibal, MO

Offline andyi

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 127
    • View Profile
Re: Recipe Development
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2011, 09:43:09 AM »

Denny,

Speaking of recipie formulation.  What's the status on the #400 Bel Quad?

-Cheers

Offline euge

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 7221
  • Estilo Casero
    • View Profile
Re: Recipe Development
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2011, 10:00:45 AM »
I look at BJCP and Designing Great Beers. Buy samples of the style and look on the web. Then sometimes ask questions on a beer forum.

I try to satisfy my own preferences though, so following/tweaking someone else's recipe can be a good place to start but I'll almost never replicate it.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline a10t2

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 3157
  • Ask me why I don't like Chico!
    • View Profile
    • SeanTerrill.com
Re: Recipe Development
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2011, 10:23:30 AM »
I might do better to just read the style guidelines and like Denny said, use my own imagination from the git-go.  I'm kind of liking this as a philosophical jumping-off point.

That's pretty much where I try to start too. Recently I've also been trying to reduce the total number of ingredients across all my recipes. Do I really need Centennial *and* Cascade on hand? Can I get close enough to Munich II by using Munich I and CaraMunich? That's probably a combination of lifestyle (no LHBS) and the "pro brewer mindset" starting to insinuate itself into my brain though. One of the big advantages of home brewing is that you can keep 37 malts in the cupboard with no consequences.

Regardless, as a general rule I think it's best to start with the simplest recipe possible and add things that are missing. Some of my early recipes were muddled messes with a dozen ingredients, and once you get to that point it's just impossible to figure out what to change. My porter is a good example: it started out with three malts but now it's up to seven, because I had to add things one at a time until I got the combination of flavors I wanted. If it had started out with seven malts I probably would have ended up scrapping the recipe and starting over anyway, because I would have had no idea where to start when adjusting proportions.

Plus, if the beers of yours that I've had are representative, you don't need any help with recipe development. ;)
Beer is like porn. You can buy it, but it's more fun to make your own.
http://seanterrill.com/category/brewing/

Offline SpanishCastleAle

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 272
    • View Profile
Re: Recipe Development
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2011, 10:26:19 AM »
I look at BJCP and Designing Great Beers. Buy samples of the style and look on the web. Then sometimes ask questions on a beer forum.

I try to satisfy my own preferences though, so following/tweaking someone else's recipe can be a good place to start but I'll almost never replicate it.
Pretty much this to a tee...ever since my 3rd or 4th batch (except for the web part).

Online denny

  • Administrator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 11659
  • Noti OR [1991.4, 287.6deg] AR
    • View Profile
    • Dennybrew
Re: Recipe Development
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2011, 10:35:31 AM »
Yet another book I don't have!  I will remedy that. 

Good ;luck...it's been out of print for a while.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

www.dennybrew.com

The best, sharpest, funniest, weirdest and most knowledgable minds in home brewing contribute on the AHA forum. - Alewyfe

Offline dbeechum

  • Administrator
  • Brewmaster General
  • *****
  • Posts: 2309
  • Pasadena, CA
    • View Profile
    • Experimental Brewing
Re: Recipe Development
« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2011, 10:38:43 AM »
Hmm.. I usually just wing it. :)

ok, really what I do is look back on things I've done, things people I trust have done and I keep looking around. I'll gen something up, look it over once or twice and then, if its something I'm really pushing on, I'll send it to a friend for their commentary.
Drew Beechum - Maltosefalcons.com
- Vote in the AHA GC Election! - http://bit.ly/1aV9GVd  -
-----
Burbling:
Gnome is in the Details
*Experimental Brewing - The Book*
Tap:
Peanut Butter Jelly Time
Tupelo Mead
Farmhouse Brett Saison

Offline narvin

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1232
  • Baltimore
    • View Profile
Re: Recipe Development
« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2011, 10:39:19 AM »
Like everyone, I start with a base recipe of the style and go from there.  I prefer to start with something I've tasted, though, so I often start with information about a commercial beer.  This could come from Brew Like A Monk (for Belgian beers), a Can You Brew It episode, or even just the OG and list of hop varities from a brewery's website.  Many substitutions and tweaked later, I'm usually pretty happy with the result.
Please do not reply if your an evil alien!
Thanks
Chris S.

Online denny

  • Administrator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 11659
  • Noti OR [1991.4, 287.6deg] AR
    • View Profile
    • Dennybrew
Re: Recipe Development
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2011, 10:40:59 AM »

Denny,

Speaking of recipie formulation.  What's the status on the #400 Bel Quad?

-Cheers

Funny you should ask....I took a gravity sample yesterday and had a taste.  In 2 weeks it's gone from 1.104 to 1.025.  Temp has been steady at 66F.  It's pretty hot with alcohol at this point, but the flavors are fantastic.  You can tell a difference between the D-180 and the D2, but it's not enormous.  I'm gonna give it another week or 2 in primary, then overcome my fear and put it in a carboy to age for a while.  I have no idea where the FG will fall, but I'm hoping it doesn't go down a lot more.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

www.dennybrew.com

The best, sharpest, funniest, weirdest and most knowledgable minds in home brewing contribute on the AHA forum. - Alewyfe

Offline aviking427

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 63
  • Pound Ridge, NY
    • View Profile
Re: Recipe Development
« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2011, 10:44:36 AM »
Pretty much the same as you. BJCP, Designing great beers, web research and drink a few so i can get a mental idea of the flavor profile I'm trying to reach. I've been using beer tools pro to help me visualize where i am in the guidelines and see how my ingredients effect the different aspects of the beers profile. Its been helpful but i can noodle the same friggin recipe for ever before i buy ingredients
Everyone should believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer.

Offline bluesman

  • Global Moderator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 8678
  • Delaware
    • View Profile
Re: Recipe Development
« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2011, 10:45:08 AM »
I typically work from the bottom up. When I find a commercial beer that I like, I'll usually rate it by aroma, appearance, flavor, mouthfeel and overall impression, then start the recipe formulation using Beersmith, internet research, the forum and any other resource available to me.

I'll adjust the grist to meet the color and flavor. I'll also look at the hop schedule and how it will work with the grist. Mashing is key to attenuation and body so I'll adjust accordingly. Then yeast selection and fermentation last which is critical to the finished beer.
Ron Price