Monday, 4 January 2016

Basic Brown Beer

I've got quite interested in "single malt and single hop" beers - SMaSH, for short - as a way of learning about malts and hops while still producing alright beer. It appeals to the science part of my brain to try to learn about a process by observing the effect when you change just one or two of its parameters, and the results so far have been encouraging.

On the other hand, "single malt" beers are obviously pretty limited when it comes to experimenting with darker malts.

What would be nice for that is a Basic Brown Beer recipe - a base recipe that allows for simple variations to showcase different character malts. The base recipe needs to have enough character to support the new addition, but not so much that it overwhelms it. Similarly, I'd like to keep the recipe as simple as possible. It would also be useful if it was fairly drinkable on its own, as a basis for comparison.

My first stab at a recipe is as follows.

  • Grist:
    • 85% Pale Ale Malt
    • 10% 80L Crystal Malt
    • 5% Chocolate Malt
  • (Quantities depending on batch size (or vice versa), for an OG of 1.050)
  • Mash at 66C
  • 60 minute boil
  • Hops:
    • use whatever English hops are to hand at 60 mins to make 25 IBU
  • Yeast:
    • Danstar Nottingham (or similar)

Possible variations would be:

  • sub Crystal Rye, Carafa or similar for Crystal Malt
  • more chocolate malt
  • add other dark malts
  • sub other dark malts for Chocolate Malt
  • sub Amber Malt, Brown Malt, Dark Munich or similar for some of the Pale Ale Malt
  • add dark sugar or molasses.

I'm probably going to have a go at something like the basic recipe this weekend. But this is going to be the first dark beer that I've brewed, the first malt-forward beer I've brewed, and the first time I've used any malt darker than medium crystal. So I might be barking up the wrong tree entirely. Any thoughts?


  1. How did this go? I like the idea of a simple base recipe which you can tweak to investigate the effects of different malls and hops.

  2. It did pretty much what I hoped for - sweetish and brownish but not too aggressively anything. But I've completely failed to brew much in the way of alternative versions since!