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HenrikB
02/06/07 02:42 PM  
What do they do?
I am quite new at homebrewing, have only made one beer.

I have been given some recipes from a friend of mine that I want to change a bit. But when doing this I have a hard time to deciding if I should use one type of malt or the other, one type of yeast or the other, one...hop...

I have been looking around one the internet to find a place where it is described what these different ingredients does to the beer. Like fx. This malt will bring a nutty aroma and lots of color etc., this hop mostly ad bitterness and only a slight amount of orange aroma etc. of cause more nuanced then what I just described.

A lot of online homebrew shops are describing what the ingredients does, I have a book that also have some descriptions, but I never find the complete list.

Does anybody know a good source of that information, web or book?

Hope somebody can help, Henrik.

Mike T
02/06/07 03:18 PM  
Re: What do they do?
I’m not the biggest BYO fan in general, but these lists are a good basic reference. I wouldn’t say they are complete, but they are certainly a good jumping off point.

www.byo.com/referenceguide/grains/

www.byo.com/referenceguide/hops/

www.byo.com/referenceguide/yeaststrains/

In the end though there is no substitute for sniffing a bag of hops or chewing on a couple kernels of grain. Taste/smell everything you brew with and taste the beer at various stages of production. It won’t always be delicious, but it will help you figure out where different flavors come from.

SteveG
02/06/07 04:39 PM  
Re: What do they do?
Henrik, I think the only real answer to your question is experience. Crafting recipes is a fun thing to do, I appluade your desire to alter the recipes you've found. Any resource will really only ball park you, the real answer to your question is to get a year or two under your belt. Start with a recipe and follow it pretty closely. That will give you a benchmark. Then play with different aspects of it at different times. Along the way feel free to ask what people think of a given recipe tweek. But I think brewing is a great example of how book learnin' can be insufficient compare to life experience. Be patient, build a foundation of knowledge and before you know it people will be asking you how you did it! You will give them recipes but your kung fu will be stronger and their beer will not be as good as yours. In time they will also observe cause and effect and in turn figure it out. If they stick with it.
HenrikB
02/07/07 03:41 AM  
Re: What do they do?
Thanks!

I know what you both mean, and I know experience is the best way.

But at the same time I think I will avoid some major errors by fx. getting a little help from the BYO reference guide.

MV
02/08/07 08:33 AM  
Re: What do they do?
Henrik - I've been homebrewig for well over a decade now and I can back up the comment that experience is most helpful in understanding how ingredients work. But when you have a recipe, you should be careful in edditing that recipe. A good recipe could pinpoint a style and a different ingredient which may seem close to you may completely change the characteristic. Also, for the most part - be careful of recipes. I've seen a lot of well meaning recipes on forums and the internet that are completely wrong (and sometimes awful!!). But if you have a good recipe, follow it as closely as possible and see how it turns out. Then, if you want to change an ingredient do it the next batch and then discover the differece.

Some great books I highly recommend are: John Palmer's "How to Brew", Randy Mosher's "Radical Brewing", Chralie P's books (The Complete Joy and Homebrew's Companion) and Ray Daniel's "Designing Great Beers". Also, the Style Guide books are excelent resources.

This guy is the most award winning homebrewer in history and all his recipes are to style and are great places to start. Also, stop by the morebeer dot com (the site won't let me post links, sorry) - excellent resource for new brewers. Brew on!

MV
02/08/07 08:37 AM  
Re: What do they do?
"This guy is the most award winning homebrewer in history and all his recipes are to style and are great places to start."

Sorry - this comment was pertainng to Jamil Zainasheff- I had a link to his recipe pager but had to take it off because the site would not allow me to publish a link. Do a search for him and you will find some excelent recipes to start with.

SteveG
02/08/07 10:01 AM  
Re: What do they do?
MV, just start it with www., the h t t p : / / is the part that is blocked. I agree that traditional, stylistically accurate recipes are a great place to start. Learn realism first, abstraction second. I wrote a little thing on the BBB about this not too long ago, I think the principle is worth entertaining...

www.babblebelt.com/bbb_classic/readarc.html?id=1163170502

(you need to copy and paste this into the location bar)

ChrisPr
02/08/07 03:12 PM  
Re: What do they do?
I also would highly recommend Ray Daniels' book 'Designing Great Beers'. That one freed me from recipes about a decade ago. You'd want to have one of Papazian's books to learn the basics as well though.

I'd also look into any local homebrew clubs. It's great to meet experienced brewers and ask them questions. As long as you are truly interested and willing to learn, I've rarely seen a homebrewer who wouldn't help a fellow brewer.

Like mentioned above, it's a good idea to find a recipe you like and make minor changes to it to see how a different hop, different mash temperature, fermentation temperature, etc. affect a beer.

Most of all have fun!

Dave I
02/08/07 03:37 PM  
Re: What do they do?
Allow me to give some Jacob Marley words of warning. I was all keen on changing recipes based on grain descriptions, hop descriptions, and what I thought would make it better (e.g. a higher starting gravity, swapping grains, adding more or an ingredient that sounded totally awesome!!!, etc.). After about six years of brewing, I always follow recipes verbatim unless an ingredient is unavailable and I have to use something very similar, or if I have enough experience from brewing to know what the changes will do.

The reason being, my homemade recipes sucked! They were either out-of-balance, kitchen-sink beers that had too much going on to let any real flavor stand out, or just quite simply were not as good as the actual recipe would have given me.

If (and when) you start making your own recipes, I think it is a good idea to start simple and resist the urge to throw a little bit of everything into your beer. And realize, sometimes recipes are the way they are because somebody has brewed several batches trying to perfect the beer and that 1/4 lb. of Biscuit Malt, or 2 oz. of Carafa I instead of Roasted Barley, mashing at 148 when Ray Daniels' book says to mash at 155*, or Cascade instead of Chinook hops at 5 minutes left into the boil and not 15 minutes left, may all be that way for a reason and changing them or altering the amounts might be detrimental to the final product.

I am moderately comfortable creating my own recipes. However, they are usually pretty simple or at the very least I am able to identify what everything in the grain bill and hop bill are likely to add to the finished product and that there are not competing ingredients or an overload of things doing essentially the same thing (e.g. Crystal 40 AND Crystal 60, Flaked Oats AND Flaked Barley AND Wheat Malt, etc.).

-Cheers

 
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