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Homebrew Recipes and Ingredients

Homebrew Recipes and Ingredients

Homebrew recipes are many and varied. You can find many different recipes online or just by asking at your local brew store – and, of course, there are many books on the subject. You, too, can produce your own homebrew recipe without much effort. A little understanding goes a long way. Really, making beer is not all that complicated.

My favorite source of homebrew recipes is the book Sacred and Healing Herbal Beers by Stephen Bruner. I have made many of the homebrew recipes, with much enjoyment, and inspiration for making my own unique contributions to brewcraft. Although some of the ingredients are quite difficult to find, usually the experience of searching out these strange components proves to be an interesting adventure! Many of the homebrew recipes in this book are ancient, and even the measurements are archaic and difficult to understand without the scholarly interpretation offered.

I find that with a basic understanding of the proportions involved in brewing, even a beginning brewer can create his or her own homebrew beer recipe. The basic formula is one and ¼ pound of sugars per gallon for a strong brew (that’s six pounds malt extract, or ½ gallon to make 5 gallons of beer). As far as hops go, one to three ounces of hops in five gallons will do you fine – some for bittering and some for finishing. The standard ale yeast in a packet, found at your local homebrew supply store, will serve just fine for your fermentation. And if you are ordering online, I recommend Knottingham Ale yeast for your homebrew beer recipe. A pound or two of flavorful roasted grains never hurts to spice up the body of your ale, either.

The quality of ingredients used in your homebrew beer recipe are of utmost importance to the ultimate taste of the brew. The most important ingredient, in my opinion, is the water. Tap water should be avoided at all costs, as the chlorine and other chemicals can disrupt the flavor of your beer. Spring water is the best, followed by water filtered by reverse osmosis, then distilled water. In my experience as a home brewer and a beer fan, I have found that organic ales also yield the most flavorful and enjoyable results. I highly recommend using only organic ingredients – those grown without the use of pesticides - in your beers. The process of organic growing ensures that only the strongest plants survive in the field, without the crutch of poison spraying and toxic soil content. This really comes through with strong flavor in the organic ales I have brewed and tasted.

If you are going for a stronger ale, a Scottish ale or a barley wine, I recommend using a champagne yeast, or ale yeast and champagne yeast combination, to achieve your brew. The flavor of the yeast you use is an important factor in determining the overall taste of how your homebrew beer recipe turns out. When making barley wine, it is especially important to make careful use of your yeasts. By starting the fermentation off with an ale yeast, and finishing with a champagne yeast, you can enjoy the earthier flavor of the ale yeast while getting the solid punch (high alcohol level) that the champagne yeast offers - both in one brew.

You will have to adjust the amount of sugars in such a strong ale as well. It will take about 2 pounds of sugars per gallon for a good, strong barley wine. At this point, the use of the Malt Extract method of brewing will be fairly costly, and it will also be difficult to attain the high alcohol level of the barley wine using only the All Grain method, so I recommend utilizing the Partial Grain method when concocting a barley wine recipe.

For those eager to try out new and inventive approaches to beer brewing, I recommend choosing one or two herbal adjuncts for your homebrew recipe. A small amount of aromatic herb can add a unique spice and bouquet to your brew which will be uniquely yours. Mints and sages are good choices, and I recommend adding the herb to your homebrew recipe as you would a finishing hops.

You can see how the progression of homebrew recipes go – simple to complex. It is all up to what you and want to make. How much of a challenge do you want in your next homebrew project?

Published: June 3, 2009

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