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Commercial vs home brew recipes

In my continued quest to become a somewhat competent brewer, I have bee pouring over both commercial (online, BYO) and homebrew recipes and I have come acrossed 2 distinct differences I think ( speaking specifically about hop forward beers):

  1. It seems that many commercial brews don’t have many 20 to 0 hop additions whereas homebrew recipes seem to be very heavy on these additions. My wife ( who has a much better palate than me) now feels that many commercial beers are bitter for bitter sake and one dimensional whereas homebrews are much more complex and have a much better hop flavor. Anyone agree or are we just stoking our own feathers? Could It be that in large scale brewing, it is not as easy/feasible to do that amount of complex late hop additions. Or are the recipes dumbed down and they are really doing whirlpooling and I am totally wrong?

  2. Seems like many recipes have 45 and 30 min hop additions which I don’t really understand. In all the hop charts I’ve seen, bittering is more efficient the longer the hop is boiled. Maximum flavor is about 20min, and max aroma is about 7 min (dry hops of course excluded). So why add hops at 45 or 30 min etc? Seems kind of a waste of glorious hops.


Your wife is absolutely right about many commercial beers totally overdoing the bitterness. It is a fad that has practically become a contest.

I like hops, and I love the bitterness of a well made pale ale or IPA (a 75 IBU IPA was in fact my “go to” beer 43 years ago, all through my college years)… but too many commercial brews nowadays that feature high hopping rates just don’t balance out all that bitterness properly. A lot of ‘craft’ brews these days are quite frankly a bit of a mess, balance-wise.

Sometimes, it almost seems like an over-the-top backlash to all the years of relatively bland (unless you knew where to look) commercial beer.
Except now it’s going in the other direction. All bitterness, and no finesse.

I think there are some considerations about commercial beers that are often overlooked by homebrewers, like just how expensive hops are. You get the biggest bang for the buck with bitterness by using the hops in a long boil, and the biggest bang for the buck with aroma by adding the hops very late. Flavor hops are expensive to use, and they can be more delicate in effect, so when costs need to get cut the flavor hops are what goes. I personally like the effect of using nothing but flavor and aroma hops in an APA or IPA, but it does take a lot of them.

Also, another reason commercial beers might seem more one-dimensional is because they tend to be aged longer before you drink them, and the hops do tend to fade and blend more over time.

How many commercial breweries are actually providing their recipes with the hop schedule online? I believe most recipes you’ll find online are reverse engineered clones, although some may been partially based on info from the brewery (e.g., Deschutes and Great Lakes give some info, but still leave a lot up to the homebrewer to figure out).

Any other commercial breweries give the full recipe other than Avery? ... mebrewers/

I am thinking, though, that commercial breweries are able to get more out of a 0 min addition than homebrewers, because of their equipment (i.e., actual whirlpool vs a hopstand).

[quote=“kcbeersnob”]Any other commercial breweries give the full recipe other than Avery?[/quote] I’m not 100% certain, but I think it was 21st Amendment that posted their recipes online, with some smart@ss comment like “Go ahead, try and copy our beers. We’ll still make them better than you.” That always made me chuckle. I even took the challenge once and brewed their recipe. When I did a side-by-side, it was clear that they were right.

With regard to the topic, I agree that financial considerations and age/transportation conditions have a lot to do with it. I think a better comparison is homebrew vs. brewpub. Those are/can be much more similar.

I think you probably looked at a small sample and drew what may be an erroneous conclusion. I just got done contributing to a book of commercial beer recipes for homebrewers. Should be out in the spring. After talking to commercial brewers about their recipes, I found them to be as varied and eclectic as a lot of homebrew recipes you see.

I’ll buy that book

+1. Let us know when it is released.

I’d think a commercial brewery would limit their use of dry hops simply because of the unstable nature of the flavor. Stone makes their Best By IPA with a heavy late hop charge and generous dry hopping, they limit the distribution to something like 45 days.

One thing I’m told, is that commercial processes make for very different outcomes compared to a homebrew system. Its not simply a matter of scale, theirs the timing involved in transfers and chilling, and different techniques like whirlpooling as was mentioned. Then you have to consider the constraints of a commercial brewery, they can’t necessarily lay in vast quantities of ten different base malts and utilize multiple yeasts.

+1. Let us know when it is released.[/quote]

Stop using this board to shamelessly promote your work Denny.

Oh yeah, and put me down for a pre-order :mrgreen:

+1. Let us know when it is released.[/quote]

Will do. I need to email the publisher and find out when they think it’ll be out.

+1. Let us know when it is released.[/quote]

Stop using this board to shamelessly promote your work Denny.

Oh yeah, and put me down for a pre-order :mrgreen: [/quote]

If I got roylaties from that one, I’d think twice…maybe… :wink:

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