So you successfully brewed your first batch of beer using extract in 101. You steeped some grains in 201, and went full blown all grain in 301. Now you have finally arrived at the point for which you started this all. Homebrewing 401, making your own beer recipes.
Brewing is a delicate balancing act. You can’t just throw everything in a pot you think will taste good. Certain ingredient ratios are needed for the process to even work, and your results take months before you can even test. That could lead to literal years of trial and error. So where do you start?
First research established recipes of the style of beer you are going for. There is a wealth of recipes available in books, online, and at local brew shops. You will start to get a feel for amount and types of grain used for the particular style you desire. You could also play it safe your first go and brew directly from a recipe with some minor substitutions or additions.
The second thing you will need to do is… math! Like recipes, there are tons of complex formulas you can research. You can crunch numbers for your recipe and figure out the potential gravity, IBUs and ABV. This can get very confusing very fast. Fortunately in our technological age we have programs that can easily do all this for you. There are many out there, but I found the easiest for me is Beer Calculus, the online calculator by Hopville. You enter in your ingredient amounts and times, and it will tell you everything your beer will potentially be. It will even tell you color and whether it will be sweet, bitter, or balanced. It’s quite fun to tweak the grain to hop ratios trying to get just the right color and bitterness you want. This tool is not perfect, and there are many other variables that can factor in, but it’s a good basis to work from.
Lastly, now that you have your own unique recipe, brew! This is the longest step, since it can take a couple months before you know your results. Make sure to write everything you do down. Hopefully you calculated properly and got close to where you want. Now tweak your recipe with each brew batch until you get what you were going for.
Congratulations! You made your first original beer. Now come up with a cool name, stick a label on it, and mail one to us!