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When did you become confident formulating your own recipes?(r/Homebrewing)
My confidence in creating recipes came first from doing SMaSH brews, which are usually shockingly tasty in spite of their simplicity. In SMaSH brewing, you only have to calculate two targets – OG and IBU’s. I’ve found through playing with online calculators that (depending on your efficiency) about 8-10 pounds of any of the most common base malts is enough to put you in the 4-5.5% ABV range. Try Two-Row, Marris Otter, Vienna, or Golden Promise for excellent SMaSH brews. I’d shy away from Pilsner malt at first; it’s got it’s own unique considerations. Don’t attempt a SMaSH with specialty grains because not only would they likely be disgusting, they may not have the diastatic power to convert their own starches to sugar. The next step is to pick out a hop variety. It can be anything you are interested in. Then, play with more online calculators like this one for IBU’s to figure out how much and when to add your hops. Remember that early additions add bitterness, and late additions contribute aroma, also, the Alpha Acid % of your chosen hop variety will have a significant effect on how many IBU’s you end up with.
Once you’ve done a SMaSH or two, you can play with adding in a specialty malt. Reading up on your chosen specialty malt, you’ll likely see a recommended useable percentage. For instance, I recently brewed a golden ale that is essentially a Marris Otter/English Kent Goldings SMaSH, but I added a bit of Biscuit Malt for a breadier flavor. I used somewhere around 7% Biscuit in my recipe. You can see on the HBT Wiki that the standard maximum for Biscuit Malt to amount to 10% of a grain bill. I didn’t want to top out, but I wanted to use enough that I could taste it, and now I’ll know what that flavor is for using Biscuit in future recipes.
Other great resources:
And of course, if you haven’t already read it, How To Brew by John Palmer is an absolute must.
Asking people. Draft a recipe, then post it to a forum for critique before brewing just to be sure there are no glaring mistakes.
tl;dr – SMaSH brews are awesome. So are John Palmer and Ray Daniels. Style guidelines can be found online from BJCP.