For many of us, drinking the beer we like is easy. For those of us who brew our own, the challenging part is to craft a beer that we like and have it come out the way we want it. Start from scratch and create something that both looks like and tastes like what you envisioned. Recently I was speaking with one of the executives in my office and he asked me if I was brewing up anything new. He had heard about the beers that were brewed up for my wedding last year and was wondering if anything new was in the works. I mentioned that I had just finished what was left of my last batch of beer (“RIPA” or Rye Pale Ale for the uninitiated) and that I was planning to do a new one. He seemed eager to see the result and asked for a summer ale type of beer, something that would be good this time of year.
I have been tasked with creating a recipe to share with those in my office. Something they can sample and enjoy after a long day’s work is done. The challenge now is where to begin. Here is where we lay out the ground work for you to come up with your own recipe and basically brew what you conjured up in your head.
How To Create Your Own Homebrew Beer Recipe in 5 Steps
1. Decide on a Style
Decide on the style of beer you want to brew. For many, it would be based on what they want to drink and for what season it is. Remember this though – if you plan to brew a dark heavy beer that is rich, hearty and high gravity, it is going to take some time before it’s ready for mass consumption. Better take that into account and properly plan ahead. Most session beers will take on average about 5-6 weeks from grain to glass, but others – like a barrel aged imperial stout – could take all year. Get your timing down before you buy the goods you plan to brew with.
In general light beers are more geared to hotter weather and darker beers for colder climates. So IPAs, Saison, Cream Ale, Pale Ale, Lagers, Belgium Pales, etc all go well to beat the heat. Stouts, Scotch Ales, Porters, Browns, etc all go well by the fireplace on your bear skinned rug. In the end its up to you and what you want to drink.
Many home brewing websites exist on the internet, and there are message boards and forums you can use to interact with those who love it as much as you. There is wealth of knowledge out there if you know how to do a simple search. There are a few links below to help get you started.
|Adventures in Homebrewing||Home Brew Exchange Community|
|Home Brew Talk||American Homebrewers Assocation|
|John Palmer’s How To Brew||Brew Your Own|
|Beer Advocate Homebrewing Forum||BeerSmith Homebrewing Forum|
The last link I gave you is from BeerSmith. BeerSmith is a home brewing software program you can use to take your brewing to the next level. In it you can start on a base recipe and work from there, tweaking it as you see fit. There are a number of clone recipes as well, in case you simply wanted to recreate one of your favorite beers. Or you can start from scratch and create your own recipe based on style, batch size, boil size, color (SRM), bitterness (IBU), original gravity (OG), final gravity (FG), alcohol by volume (ABV) and your mash profile. Your head is probably spinning if you’re not already familiar with these terms, but the great thing about being a home brewer is the learning process and the benefit you receive when you get it right.
3. Plan Your Steps
Since summer is alive and well and we’re going to be entering the “dog days” in the next 6 weeks or so, I think it was only fitting that a summer ale was requested. Something light that will be a good refreshment on those hot days. I’m going to use my creative genius (see common sense) to determine that we should go for something like a Saison or an IPA rather than a stout or porter. These are much darker and heavier beers, something you would normally associate with winter. With the style in mind, we must also be cognizant of the time it will take from grain to glass. In other words, how long will it be from the time I brew this puppy to the time it hits people’s lips and makes them smile and say “ahh…” Different beers with different ingredients and different gravity will take a different time to condition and be ready for consumption. Factor this accordingly when you want to do something, especially a seasonal brew.
The next thing for you to do is invest in your home brewery. That means locating and patronizing your local HBS (Home Brew Shop) and getting all the goods you need to brew that batch. This includes your equipment (see previous posts on brewing equipment if you’re unfamiliar) as well as your grain bill – the heart and soul of your batch. What is a grain bill? Basically, the grains you need to brew the batch or the DME (dry malt extract) or LME (liquid malt extract) if you’re brewing extract batches. It also includes your hop strains – bittering hops, aroma hops and flavoring hops – as well as the type of yeast you will need at the end of the boil when you’re ready to turn wort (pronounced “wert” – aka sugar water) into beer.
5. Brew Day
Once you have everything in order, it’s time for the final step – Brew On! Take everything you have planned for and put it together into one long day of work. I guarantee that this will be the best workday you could experience, because when it’s all said and done you have created a delicious refreshing beer that many will enjoy. It creates a sense of pride in people – I know it does for me – when they see others so thoroughly enjoying their hard work. Now it’s your turn. Get to it. Cheers…