Welcome to the beginning of any great brew day: the recipe! Recipe formulation can be daunting at first so we’ve assembled a collection of some of our favorites to try out or adapt. For many, creating and tasting recipes is one of the more rewarding experiences from homebrewing, like mixing the spices for your own curry instead of buying the premade mix. For others, it’s the process and following a recipe can keep ingredient purchases easy and the brew day relaxing. Let’s not forget those free-wheeling brewers who throw recipes to the wind and are guided by their senses and what is available creating the ‘recipe’ on the fly while getting ingredients and during the brew day. One thing they can all agree upon is that the enjoyment of the final product, whether by design, circumstance, or plain good luck, is rewarding. Soon enough, we will convert others to the Synergy Brew-side: where the best beer is the beer you brew.
The recipes are organized by style loosely based upon the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) style guidelines. These are not meant to be restrictive; feel free to make adjustments, substitute ingredients, add herbs, spices, sugars, fruit, anything that sounds good. Remember that you will be making 10-20 gallons of it (or passing it off to friends), so hopefully it’s something that you’ll want to drink 100 or 200 bottles of . . .
Know your ingredients! For beginning brewers, the sheer quantity of different ingredients can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there’s a great way to learn all of the varieties of malts, hops, yeasts, and even water: Brew and Drink Beer! In other words, the only way to learn ingredients is to taste them. Sample different kinds of malt in your local brew shop, make hot and cold hop teas to formulate taste impressions and ideas, take good notes, get out there with other brewers and beer folks to discuss flavors, share, and of course: drink beer!
Start with simple recipes. Not only is this good practice for the most seasoned brewmasters, it’s even more important for beginners. This is the only way to actually taste ingredients and the flavor contributions in the finished form after fermentation. Single malt, single hop beers can be very flavorful and insightful for understanding flavor contributions. When using specialty malts, try to keep it to 2-3 types (not necessarily varieties), and the same with hops. It’s easy to muddle malt and hop flavors by adding too many varieties in the effort of getting all the different flavors out of the individual components.
In general, we find that erring on the side of caution is a good rule when creating recipes. You can usually devise a way to add more of a certain flavor after fermentation, but there is no way to remove a flavor that is too strong or dominant.
Each style section contains recipes listed with their vital statistics with a visual approximation of color inside each pint glass. When you click on the recipe, you will see a short description of the recipe followed by Grist, Hop Schedule, Yeast Suggestions, Mash Schedule and Notes.
All of the recipes have been standardized at 75% Mash Efficiency. This refers to the amount (%) of potential extracted sugars during the mash. There are many variables that influence mash efficiency including temperature at various points, hydration, grist-to-water ratio, freshness, crush of grains, adequate mixing, method/rate of sparge, compaction, and use of adjuncts, among many others. Also note that mash efficiency is different from brewhouse efficiency, which refers to the amount of cooled wort in the Uni-fermenter. For these reasons, we do not prescribe amounts of strike water, rate of sparge, or any of the other myriad variables that influence the wort production process. We highly recommend getting to know the system by brewing different batches of beer. Recipe formulation software is also very helpful while learning the intricacies of the Pro-Pilot System.
Grist is the term for crushed grains prepared for mashing, and may be any mixture of barley, wheat, rye, spelt, corn, rice, buckwheat, quinoa, anything. The amounts are split between 10 and 20 gallon batch sizes. Grains will have a description and corresponding Lovibond (°L) number. Degrees Lovibond refers to the approximate color contribution of the grain. Sometimes, there may be regional suggestions for particular malts (primarily English, German, or Belgian). If you can’t find the particular malts, look for similarities based on type, region, and degrees L.
Hop Schedule includes hop variety, alpha acid amount, and time of boil counting down from the start of boil time. In other words, it’s the amount of time left in the boil, not the total time (Boil length is 60 minutes: A hop addition at 20 minutes means it has been boiling for 40 minutes). If making substitutions, remember to pay attention to alpha acid percentage and compensate for different amounts. You will notice that late hop amounts do not directly correlate between 10 and 20 gallon recipes. This is because flavor and aroma hop utilization increases with an increase of wort volume in beers that are not hop dominant. Meaning: it never hurts to use more flavor/aroma hops for an IPA (except for wort volume loss), but it’s likely unnecessary for a Munich Helles, Porter, Golden Ale or similarly non hop-forward beers.
Yeast suggestions contains recommended varieties and fermentation temperatures. We prefer Wyeast liquid yeast from our local supplier. If you’re looking for a good substitution chart, check out Mr. Malty here. We highly advocate using different yeast varieties when possible on the same batch of wort. This provides the brewer a greater breadth of understanding and appreciation of who really does the work during the brewing process (yeast). It can also create dramatically different beers from a single batch which keeps drinking at least 80 pints of the ‘same’ beer interesting if not informative.
Mash Schedule contains our suggestions for mash temperatures and rests. Mash Out refers to raising the temperature of the mash over 165°F to aid in rinsing out the sugars from the mash. This is best accomplished by decoction or recirculating the wort while the burner is on. Turn the burner on low, prime the pump, and slowly recirculate the wort on the top of the mash. Don’t rely on the front thermometer on the mash tun, use the handheld thermometer as the guide and the front thermometer as a reference. When the mash temperature is near 165°F, turn off the pump and let the temperature equalize for 5-10 minutes. This process combines vorlauf with mash out, so you can immediately begin collecting wort in the boil kettle after the rest.
The mash schedule is merely a suggestion, feel free to use single infusion or any mash schedule or process desired while making the recipes.
There may also be notes, special techniques, or ingredients listed in this section.
Now you’re ready to peruse the recipes and decide what you want to be drinking in the next 4-6 weeks. Time to pick up ingredients, start cleaning and get ready for the brew day.