Top-Down Brew: Instructions for the Recipe Calculators

Thanks for your interest in using the recipe calculators. Please read the following instructions carefully before attempting to create a recipe. It is easy enough to figure out, but you will get better results if you understand how these calculators work.

Start with the target values for the batch

Fields for entering the batch values

Enter the desired original gravity, mash efficiency, and the batch size. Suggestions are given for the original gravity value with the default value and the recommended range on the right side. The efficiency value depends on your brewing procedures, such as the grind of the malt and the type of sparging. If you are unsure, typical efficiency values would be 65% for no-sparge or brew-in-a-bag, 75% for batch sparging, and 85% for continuous sparging. Extract brewers who steep specialty grains can expect an efficency of about 60%.

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 by clicking on a radio button on the left side (the red arrow above). The fields circled in yellow are optional for customization. For example, you could change the "American two-row" text to "Briess two-row". The potential extract can also be adjusted to the exact values for your malt, if these are known. Extract brewers can select dry or liquid malt extract options for using a light malt extract for the base malt.

Enter the desired percentages for the specialty malts

Fields for entering the specialty malt percentages

The percentages of the desired specialty malts can be entered on the left (outlined in red above). This is the percentage of the total gravity points for the wort, which is close to but not necessarily the same as the percentage by weight. The areas outlined in yellow are fields for customization. For example, "medium crystal malt (40L)" could be changed to "Briess crystal, 40L". If a malt that you would like to use is missing, it can be entered here along with the potential extract values. The fields for malts are adjusted by mash efficiency. In contrast, the fields for sugars assume 100% efficiency. Do not enter a custom malt value into a field that has been designated for sugar or malt extract because this will overestimate the degree of sugars that can be extracted.

Enter the IBU values and critical hop parameters for the batch

Fields for the IBU and hop parameters, like boil time

Enter the desired IBUs and the boil time for the batch (outlined in red above). Use the recommendations or the default value as a guide to the appropriate IBU level. The default boiling time of 60 minutes is a standard addition time for bittering hops. The hop boiling time can be increased or decreased if needed. After this, select the desired bittering hop by clicking on one of the radio buttons at the left (red arrow).

The remaining fields (outlined in yellow above) can be customized if needed. For example, "Cascade" and "5.75"% could be changed to "Cascade - USA, HopUnion" and "6.5"% to precisely fit the ingredients that you might be using. These fields can also be altered to include new hop varieties that might not be provided in the hop options. For example, "Cascade" and "5.75"% could be changed to "Azacca" and "14.5"% to calculate the needed weight values for a newer hop variety.

Optional: Add late hop additions if desired

Fields for adding late hop additions

Beer styles that call for late hop additions can have multiple additions added at this step. The first field (red box) asks for the number of late hop additions. The "add or remove" button will insert or delete additional fields for late hop additions. Each addition is calculated as a percentage of the overall IBUs, similar to how the specialty grains were a percentage of the overall wort composition. For the above example, 20% of the IBUs will come from a hop addition that is boiled for 10 minutes. The minutes of boiling time are also needed. Typical values for flavor/aroma hops will be 15, 10, 5, or 0 minutes. The last step is to check the hop type that you want and make any necessary customizations.

Choose the yeast pitching rate

Selecting the yeast pitching rate

The final step is to select the yeast pitching rate by selecting a radio button (see the red arrow). For most ales, the .75 million value is a good choice. After the selection, pressing the "calculate" button (red box above) will create the recipe. The recipe will be displayed in the gold-colored "results" section.

Other possibilities

For making a SMaSH (single malt, single hop) recipe: Set all of the specialty malt percentages to zero.

For hopbursting: Setting the late hop percentages to a total of 100% will eliminate the bittering hop addition.

Useage tip: The results of the calculations can be selected and copied, then pasted into your favorite word processor.

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