Recipe Formulation

Our May meeting educational topic was a fantastic one, put together for us by VP Andrew Ayers. We asked brewers to consider how recipes are formulated and why. We explained the foundations for a good recipe and used a bit of sensory analysis to dissect the recipe of a commercial pale ale.


Conceptualizing Your Beer

  • Know the language
  • Know your ingredients
  • Know your process

Style Guidelines vs. Personal Goals

Style Guidelines offer a good foundation for building on.

e.g. “May contain several malts, prominently dark malts, which often include black malt (chocolate malt is also often used). American hops typically used for bittering, but US or UK finishing hops can be used; a clashing citrus quality is generally undesirable.”

Personal style may dictate a different direction.

e.g. “A hoppy, citrusy/tropical-flavored beer with some sweetness to impart an almost candy-like finish. Medium-light body.”

Building a Malt Bill

Choose your base

  • This is your beer’s foundation

Choose your supporting cast

  • Flavor
  • Color
  • Body

General Guidelines

  • Crystal Malts
    • Limit to about 15%
  • Roasted Malts
    • Limit to about 15%
  • Avoid all-extract recipes
    • Use 25-50% grain

Adjusting Recipes

  • Generally, when adjusting for efficiency, adjust only the base malt
  • Try to limit changes with each bath to ensure changes can be assessed correctly
  • For Crystal Malts, consider changes to °L and amounts

Rejuvinating Recipes

  • Consider different maltsters
  • Consider new hop varieties
  • Consider different yeast strains

Commercial Clone

Deschutes Red Chair NWPA

ABV 6.0%, IBU 60, OG 1.066

  • Grains:
    1. Pale Malt (52%)
    2. Pilsner (24%)
    3. Munich (8%) – “hefty toasted bread character.”
    4. C40 (4%) – “medium caramel malt that will contribute rich golden hues and smooth flavors of sweet toffee and caramel.”
    5. C90 (4%) – “red to deep red color and molasses and sweet date flavors.”
    6. Carastan(4%) – “caramel/toffee flavor and hints of toasted bread.”
    7. Carapils (4%) – “add foam stability, and palate fullness to beer.”
  • Hops
    1. Centennial – “a pleasant spicy citrus aroma and clean bitterness.”
      1. @ 60 (45 IBU)
      2. @ 15 (5 IBU)
      3. @ 5 (3 IBU)
    2. Cascade – “Unmistakable grapefruit citrus aroma and flavor.”
      1. @ Flameout (~0 IBU)
  • Yeast
    1. English Ale – Wyeast 1968 London ESB – “produces distinctly malty beers. Attenuation levels are typically less than most other yeast strains which results in a slightly sweeter finish. Ales produced with this strain tend to be fruity.”

Recipe Exercise

Design Your Own


  • 2-Row
  • Wheat Malt
  • C20 – “produces golden hues, and has a mellow, candy like sweetness and a mild toffee flavor.”
  • Clear Candi Sugar


  • Columbus
  • Mt. Hood
  • Willamette