Thursday, February 3, 2011

RFP - Tom's Beer Concept - Spring in Your Step

As outlined in our kick-off post, Jeff and I are embarking on a Recipe Formulation Project (RFP).  This project should be a rewarding and enjoyable way to explore original recipe design.  The first step in this process is to conceptualize the recipe.  By developing the beer recipe from a firm inspiration, the brewer is more likely to succeed in creating something that has definition and, at a minimum, develops a nice back story for the beer.

My concept is that I miss Spring.  It has be cold down here in Virginia, colder than is seasonable on many days this winter.  While Virginia have not gotten as much snow as last year, there has been a lot of freezing rain.  My mind is looking forward to warmer weather, green plants, and all the good things of Spring.  The ingredients I drew inspired me to create a beer that will pull the drinker in this direction.

As a reminder, my randomly selected ingredients are:
  • 7.   Honey Malt
  • 13. Orange Peel
  • 19. Fruit Puree/Juice 
The beer will likely be have a substantial wheat base, as many wheat beers can be light and refreshing.  Adding some light Munich malt to this base will help give a little malt complexity, but too much of this character could give the beer a bready character reminiscent of English ales.  The honey malt should add a light sweetness to the beer, which reinforces the Spring concept.  However, too much honey malt could make the beer cloying and less drinkable.  Fresh orange peel will reinforce both the honey sweetness and lend a refreshing character to the beer.  The addition of tartness or acidity can also reinforce a fresh flavor, so the recipe will likely use a small amount of acidulated malt.  The third ingredient, fruit puree or juice had some initial traction in the concept, but faded as ideas solidified around the honey malt and orange peel.

Given the Spring concept, and the fact that this beer will be brewed more than once, I want the beer to be sessionable.  This should translate in to a rough alcohol concentration around 4% ABV.

Rough Amount
Wheat Malt55%Light malt that can support the other Spring-inspired ingredients
Domestic 2-Row28%Contribute to the original gravity of the beer and provide diastatic power, but not create flavors that hide the wheat
Raw Wheat5%Provide some additional flavor complexity to the malted wheat
Munich Malt5%Add malt complexity, but used in an amount that does not push the beer into an English bready character
Honey Malt5%Contributes a light sweetness to the beer that will compliment the wheat and Munich
Acidulated Malt~2%Provide a slight tart flavor to reinforce a overall fresh taste
Fresh Orange PeelA few orangesProvide light citrus character to the beer to supplement the other Spring flavors

To support the easy-drinking nature of the recipe, the recipe will have a relatively low bitterness (~ 20 - 25 IBU), with small amounts of late hopping to reinforce a citrus or floral character.  The recipe will likely use a clean American ale yeast that stays out of the way of the other light Spring flavors, rather than a more flavor-forward German weizen or Belgian yeast strain.

I am looking forward to seeing how this concept becomes an actual recipe as the project moves forward.  I am also interested in seeing what Jeff comes up with.



Recipe Formulation Project - Reference Guide
Tom's Recipe:
Jeff's Recipe:


  1. Do you plan to add rice hulls to help prevent stuck sparges?

  2. Thanks for the comment, Dustin. Yes, I am planning on adding rice hulls to prevent a stuck sparge, given the large percentage of wheat. The next post I do in the series will provide the actual recipe and the brew session. Cheers.


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