Top-down Brew: About the recipe calculators

Most homebrew recipes focus upon ingredient weights. This is great for beginners because it makes brewing beer just like baking cookies from a recipe. However, the focus on weights creates problems for more advanced brewers.

One problem with emphasizing weights is that key processes like the mash depend upon efficiencies that may vary significantly between brewers due to differences in equipment and processes. If a recipe's efficiency assumptions differ from your system, the recipe weights must be adjusted up or down to match your system. Another headache is that brewing software typically requires the user to enter weights and then adjust these weights up or down to hit the desired targets, such as style-specific original gravity or IBUs.

It seemed to me that there must be a better approach for advanced brewers. The present recipe calculators focus on batch targets and percentages rather than ingredient weights. From these target values we can work forward (top-down) to determine the weights that will be needed to reach the target. The ingredient weights are the end of the calculation process, not the beginning point.

Another goal of these pages is to summarize information about each particular beer style in one place. This information helps to guide recipe development when you are making critical decisions about the percentages.

I hope that you enjoy using these calculators. It may seem somewhat foreign at first to start with a beer concept (the top) and work your way down to the weights. Once you get used to it, this approach will seem much better than the simple but backwards approach of working from weights towards recipe targets.


Go back to the calculator list.