Tips For Designing Your Own Beer Recipe

Perhaps the greatest thrill in homebrewing is that innate desire of the individual brewer to create a truly unique, signature beer. This process of recipe design comes easy to some, but it can present quite a challenge to others. Sometimes it’s good to get back to basics and remind ourselves that all beer essentially contains just a few key ingredients: malt, hops, yeast, and water.

We know that the malt provides the fermentable sugars, and the yeast converts these sugars to alcohol, while the hops work to balance the sweetness of unfermented sugars. That’s the most basic process. It’s how we bring these and additional ingredients together that determines the characteristics of the finished beer. Take the time to really familiarize yourself with these ingredients. For example, it’s fine to read about the unique flavors imparted by different varieties of hops, but you should also focus on the aroma of the hops as you use them.

Seek out existing recipes calling for ingredients you have not yet used. Recreate these recipes, and keep a specific journal of each brewing session. This journal should include a list of the ingredients, starting and finishing gravities, fermentation temperature, and all important dates and times such as time of boil, pitching, fermentation, secondary racking, and bottling. ProMash is just one of many software programs available to assist you with this task. I only mention it because it is what I use. If you would prefer, a pen and notebook will work just fine.

Once you have found a recipe you enjoy, go back to your journal. Try to find ways to make it even better, and make it your own. Perhaps there are other flavors, enjoyable to you but not traditionally found in beer, that you can bring to this recipe. Begin the process of experimentation. Recently, I discovered a wheat beer recipe that I enjoy very much. My goal now is to recreate it, slightly lighter in body and with a hint of lemon and basil. Take the liberty to do the same with your beer. Just remember to keep the batch sizes small during the experimentation process. That way, if you don’t care for the finished product, not much is lost.

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About The Author, Dominick Famiano
Dominick is a homebrewer and webmaster of, a social networking community for homebrewing and beer enthusiasts. He also manages