Modifying A Recipe

beer-kitToday Davo left a comment wondering how you would downsize a recipe for a Mr. Beer kit. This really isn’t a hugely difficult thing to do, and if your having trouble because you haven’t done fractions since highschool then that’s what you have children for right? For those of us who try to avoid math whenever possible though I figured I should explain how to modify a 5 gal partial mash recipe (that means an extract recipe with some grains). Also some tips for spicing up your kits.

Changing Batch Size

Let’s take the “Uncle Fuggles Slightly Rye” I’m brewing right now, as we speak. The 5 gal recipe is as follows

1 lb Rye malt
.5 lb Biscuit malt
.25 British Crystal malt
3 lb Dry Light Malt Extract
3 lb Dry Amber Malt Extract
1 oz Fuggles for 60 min
1.5 oz Fuggles for 20 min
1 oz  Fuggles for dry hopping
Predicted OG 1.058, IBUs 37

Now we use 2/5 the ingredients for a 2 gal Mr Beer fermentor

7 oz Rye malt
3 oz Biscuit malt
2 oz British Crystal Malt
1.25 lb Light Dry Malt Extract
1.25 lb Amber Dry Malt Extract
.4 oz Fuggles at 60 min
.6 oz Fuggles at 20 min
.4 oz Fuggles for dry hopping
Predicted OG 1.055, IBUs 35

As you can see the math is easy, just multiply everything by 0.4 to get your weight, then convert it into an easier measurement ( lbs become oz). Also some creative rounding is needed to make the numbers easier. The rounding causes the OG and IBUs to not match up, but they are still close.

Spicing It Up

One thing I’m a big advocate for both in brewing and in cooking is making the recipe your own. With kits this may seem difficult, but in reality it isn’t. In fact kits are a great starting point for even experienced partial mash brewers (they don’t quite fit for all grain though). My Rose Red is a good example of a kit mod recipe. I started with a Coopers Wheat Beer kit and modified it with specialty grains, wheat malt extract, and spices.

One thing to always consider with kit brewing is hops. Many kits go lighter on the hops in order to appeal to a broader range of brewers. Adding a small amount of hops in at your boil and extending the boil to a full hour can give your beer a nice bitterness, or flavor if added near the end. Also dry hopping (adding hops to sit in the beer after fermentation) is another great way to give your beer that great hop aroma and take things up a notch. Just remember, most kits are prehopped, so don’t be heavy handed when adding them. Another great way to spice up beers or to raise your OG to a more acceptable range is with grains and malt extract.

Hope these tips were helpful. It’s time for me to go stir in my flavoring hops though, so I need to stop writing.

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