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Creating Your Own Recipes

Site Map

Home

Introduction

How To Use This Site

Equipment You Will Need

DIY Corner

Materials You Will Need

Water Treatment

A Walk Through A Brew

A Few Recipes

Creating Your Own Recipes:

How Is It Done?

The Importance of Keeping Notes

Malt

Adjuncts

Hops

Yeast

A Walk Through Creating An Original Recipe

Danger - Quicksand!

Frequently Asked Questions

Links and Further Reading

What Is Sensible Mole?

Contact The Head Brewer

Why You Should Bother

Beer recipes are not like cake recipes. If you and I brewed the same recipe the resulting two beers would not taste the same because there are so many variables to take into account.

Your water and method of water treatment may differ to mine. There may well be differences in our brewing technique, standards of hygiene and in the efficiency of our brewing systems. The freshness and quality of our ingredients may not be identical, the length and vigour of the boil may differ too. All of these aspects and more, to a lesser or greater degree, will affect the final result.

It follows then that there is no such thing as a universally ‘great’ recipe which all brewers can use, safe in the knowledge that they will produce ‘great’ beer.

Some brewers (and in the early days, I too went through this phase) taste an excellent beer in a pub, then go on to spend months or even years trying to track down a ’clone’ recipe in the hope of faithfully reproducing said beer in their own kitchen. Some brewers claim to have produced a clone recipe, often after years of experimentation.

woodcut of grain harvest

This is going to anger or upset some brewers but all I can say is that, of all the many ’clone’ recipes I have brewed and tasted over the years, NOT ONE has been near the taste of the commercial beer it is supposed to mimic, and it’s hardly surprising when you think about it. Take Timothy Taylor’s Landlord as an example...

All who drink this beer have had great pints, mediocre pints, and Godawful pints of the very same beer, often from the same pub. Different pubs offer it at different temperatures, and there’s nothing like a chill on real ale for killing much of the taste. We can add to the mix the changing nature of our taste buds - pour three pints one after the other, give one to me, the second to someone 20 years younger than me, and the third to someone 20 years older than me, and I guarantee those pints would taste different to all of us - yet all three of us would still swear Landlord can be a great pint, and rightly so. And what if all or some of those three drinkers were smokers, with the inherent and unavoidable deadening of the tastebuds smoking brings? So where on earth would a potential ’cloner’ brewer begin? Which ’version’ of the beer does he choose as being the ’definitive’ version? Here Be Dragons - please, don’t go down the cloning route and when you meet a brewer who’s keen to tell you of his or her cloning successes (and you will, sooner or later) just smile politely and take things with a huge pinch of salt... Don't go down the cloning route - Here Be Dragons!!!

Another thought occurs; why would anyone actually WANT to clone beers that are sold in pubs? I have no great skill as a brewer yet my beers are routinely superior to those offered in pubs - and so will yours be if you follow the steps laid down on this site.

The thought of creating your own recipes can, initially, be a little daunting - but don‘t worry, we‘ll sort you out. Because of cold clammy fear, I resisted going down this route for a long time and looking back I now realise how stupid I was. We are not sheep; our tastes differ. So I give you my recipe for what I believe is a great beer, you waste time and money brewing it because in the end you simply don’t like it. What was the point? You know what you like. So why waste time brewing something I like?

A true story... some years ago I came into contact with a guy who was in his seventies and who had well over 700 all-grain brews under his belt. He told me of a recipe he had been tinkering with for over two years and he was as pleased as punch because, finally, he’d got it right. I felt genuinely excited; this Grand Master of brewing had more experience than anyone I had ever heard of, AND he’d spent a long time getting a recipe absolutely spot on. It was his magnum opus, his masterpiece, his crowning glory. I begged the recipe from him, and he was generous enough to give me full details. I brewed it, following the recipe to the letter. The result was 25 litres of gnat’s piss.

Don’t get me wrong, to him, the beer was amber nectar, and good luck to the guy. To me however, it tasted like it had been fermenting in a pig farmer’s wellie. It isn’t a matter of which of us is wrong or right, it’s just a matter of taste. Final proof, I believe, of why passing around recipes from one brewer to another doesn’t, on the whole, tend to be a rip roaring success.

Another true story... a couple of years ago I had the good fortune to be introduced to a head brewer from Adnams Brewery, specifically the guy who designed Adnams ’Broadside’ Bitter. I was able to chat to him for just a few short minutes before he was ushered away. I told him I admired the way large breweries such as Adnams can exactly control the mash temperature when vast weights of grain are involved, and turn out thousands of gallons of ale which has a consistency to it. This man waved away my comments and told me that he, in turn, envied home brewers. "You have no restrictions of any kind", he said, "unlike us, you can brew when you want, and you can brew absolutely anything at all that you want, any style of beer whatsoever. You have absolute freedom. I would love to have that."

He’s right of course. But it strikes me that there’s no use having absolute freedom unless that freedom is exercised. So free yourself from the shackles of cloning, take other people’s recipes with a pinch of salt, and fly free!!!!!

It's very satisfying to be able to drink a great beer you've made yourself, but that satisfaction is magnified greatly when the beer is brewed to a recipe you devised yourself. Over the next few pages we look at exactly how to go about it....

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