Top-Down Brew: Instructions for the Recipe Calculator


Please read the following instructions carefully before attempting to create a recipe. The calculator is fairly easy to figure out, but you will get better results if you read the instructions first.

The demo recipe will be for a cream ale. The style recommendations page has guidance about the values, percentages, and ingredient varieties to enter into the calculator for some popular beer styles. The cream ale recommendations, which are based on BJCP guidelines and information from magazine articles, is at the top of the style recommendations page.

The instructions shown below are for the all-grain calculator. There is also an extract plus steeped grains version of this calculator. The extract calculator has liquid or dry malt extract options for the base malt. The specialty grain selection is limited to grains that can be steeped without mashing, such as crystal malt and roasted barley.

Start with the target values for the batch

Fields for entering the batch values

Enter the original gravity goal, the estimated mash efficiency, and the batch size. The volume measurement units for US or Metric values can be selected by the radio buttons.

The efficiency value depends on your brewing procedures, such as the fineness of the malt grind and the type of sparging. If you are unsure about the efficiency of your system try using these typical efficiency values: 65% for no-sparge or brew-in-a-bag, 75% for batch sparging, or 85% for continuous sparging. Extract brewers who steep crushed specialty grains can expect an efficency of about 60%.

The default value of 1.050 specific gravity would be appropriate for a cream ale, so we will go with the default value.

Choose the base malt that will provide the majority of the fermentable sugars

Fields for choosing the base malt and customization

Select the base malt from the drop-down menu.

We will use American two-row for this example.

Enter the desired percentages and types for the specialty malts and grains

Fields for entering the specialty malt percentages

The percentages for the specialty malts or grains can be entered on the left. The malt or grain type for each percentage is selected from the adjacent drop-down menu. The fields that are not needed can be left at the 0% default value.

An important technical point to keep in mind is that these percentages are the percentage of the total gravity points for the wort. This percentage of wort sugars is similar to but not necessarily the same as the grain percentage by weight. Please refer to the technical documentation for further explanation.

The cream ale that we are building will be 20% flaked corn and 5% Vienna malt.

Optional: Enter the percentages and types of sugars

Fields for entering the percentage and type of desired sugars

Some recipes call for sugars or ingredients like honey that do not need to be mashed. If desired, enter the values for these sugars here as percentages and types just like you did for the specialty malts and adjunct grains. The efficiency of these ingredients is set to 100%.

We won't be adding any sugars to our cream ale so the percentage values are just left to the default value of 0%.

Enter the total IBU values for the batch

Field for the batch IBUs

Enter the desired IBUs for the batch.

The BJCP style guidelines state that cream ales can range from 8 to 20 IBUs (see page 2). We will use 18 IBUs for our example beer.

Enter the boiling time and hop variety for the bittering hop addition

Fields for entering the boiling time and variety for the bittering hops

The next step is to enter the boiling time in minutes and select the hop variety for the bittering hops. The default boiling time of 60 minutes is typical, but this can be increased or decreased if desired.

We will use a 60 minute bittering charge of Liberty hops for our cream ale example.

Optional: Add late hop additions

Fields for adding late hop additions

Some beer styles, such as pale ales, need late hop additions to capture hop flavor and aroma. The percentage of overall IBUs, the time, and the hop variety for these late boil hop additions can be entered at this step. The minutes fields can be increased or decreased to provide timing flexibility.

In general, each late hop addition needs to provide about 10% to 20% of the overall IBUs to make a noticeable impact on the final flavor. Hoppy beers such as pale ales and IPAs often have 40% or more of the overall IBUs from late hop additions.

We will use a small hop flavor addition for 20% of the IBUs at 10 minutes remaining in the boil for our cream ale example. We will stick to using Liberty hops, although other hop varieties could be selected.

Choose the yeast type

Selecting the yeast type

The final step is to select the yeast type. This example beer will be using an ale yeast (American Ale), so the ale radio button is selected.

After the data entry is finished pressing the "calculate" button will create the recipe. The recipe with weights will be displayed in the gold-colored "results" section.

The recipe is displayed in the yellow box.

The text from the gold box can be copied and pasted into your favorite word processor or application for storage.

That's all there is to it! The next steps are to obtain the ingredients and then start brewing. :-)

This page is a quick introduction to the basic features of the calculator. For further information about the details, assumptions, and inner mechanisms of the calculator please refer to the technical documentation.

These calculator pages are freely available, in both cost and licensing. Please feel free to download these web pages to your hard drive for future use if you find this to be a valuable resorce.

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