Just like cooking, it’s fun to experiment and compose your own recipes for beer you’d like to brew. It’s nothing to be afraid of. If you follow just a few simple guidelines, then everything will be fine.
Six steps to your very own beer
- Choose which beer style you want to brew. Preferably an ale, an overfermented beer. It’s easier to ferment the beer at room temperature than to find somewhere that stays between 8–15ºC (46–59ºF), which is what you need for underfermented beer.
- Use this formula for the proportions. A kitchen brew (4–5 litres/8-1/2 –10 -1/2 pints) should contain 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) spraymalt, 400 ml–1 litre (13 fl oz–2 pints/1-1/2 – 4 cups) special malt (different types of hard roasted malt), 1–5 tablespoons hops (depending on how much flavour and bitterness from hops you want) and 1/2 packet of dried yeast (if using Fermentis US-05 or S-04, then you’re guaranteed a good outcome as they provide very clean flavours).
- Check the colour of the beer style. The darker the colour, the higher the proportion of roasted malt you need to use. This type of malt is usually referred to as special malt. Try everything from 400–600 ml (13 fl oz–1-1/4 pints/1-1/2 – 2-1/2 cups) of special malt in your beer. An example: if you’ve chosen to make an IPA, start with 400 ml (13 fl oz/1-1/2 cups) caramel malt to 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) spraymalt. This will bring out a beautiful amber colour.
- Consider whether you want to make a beer that is more inclined towards tropical and citrus fruits, or whether you’d like a beer with grassier, herbier tones. If the former appeals to you, then use American hops such as Citra, Cascade, Mosaic or Amarillo. If you want the earthier alternative, select European hops such as Fuggle, Tettnanger, East Kent Golding or Saaz.
- Select your yeast. We recommend you keep things simple. Understanding yeast is probably the toughest part of beer brewing. If you stick with dried yeast (such as Fermentis US-05 and S-04) then you have a relatively pure yeast that doesn’t flavour the beer to any great extent. This leaves you to work on swapping malts and hops in and out, and starting to learn what combinations do for the flavour and aroma.
- Here are three tricks you can experiment with to add even more character to your beer:
- The first is dry hopping. It’s not difficult – just carefully remove the silicone stopper after 11 days of fermentation and add some extra hops, berries, herbs or spices. This will add some extra punch to the aroma when you pour the beer.
- The second is to flavour the wort itself with berries, herbs or spices. We recommend you add the flavouring 5 minutes before finishing the boil. If you leave it to boil for too long, there is a risk of an odd bitterness to the beer instead of a clear flavour. Your creativity sets the boundaries: try everything from blueberries to juniper twigs, or why not gorgonzola (although maybe not).
- The third trick is the easiest (but also the most dangerous) – increasing the alcohol content in the beer by adding sugar. Be careful. It can be tempting to pour lots of sugar into the mix. The risk is you end up with a beer that tastes like a spirit, which is normally not desirable.
More from Kitchen Brewing
- Break Beer Session IPA Recipe
- Coriander Saison Recipe
- What's Kitchen Brewing?
- Basic Method of Kitchen Brewing
Excerpt from Kitchen Brewing by Jakob Nielsen and Mikael Zetterberg, published by Hardie Grant Books © 2017 by Jakob Nielsen and Mikael Zetterberg. All rights reserved.