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Recipe for First All Grain

Howdy all,

So, I just designed my first recipe, which I will use to brew my first all grain beer, pending NB Forum Approval (if I don’t get it, I’ll go with Caribou Slobber all grain). I really like brown ales with some character and body to 'em, but I also want to keep this one fairly simple. Please let me know if I’m looking at either a boring, thin, or overly contrasty beer (where contrasty would mean American chocolate and Belgian biscuit don’t go well together, the yeast or hops aren’t a good fit with the malt, each other, etc.). Most importantly, if you think anything below is way off and I should go with a pre-fab recipe to get started, please say so :slight_smile: .

My thinking is that this will turn out a well-balanced, fairly strong brown ale, with a character slightly reminiscent of chocolate covered graham crackers :wink: . I figure ABV will be around 6% max. Regarding the OG efficiency columns, I plan to batch sparge a la Denny’s guide, and figure 75% is optimistic my first time out, but included 85% as that’s what Palmer’s table
uses. OK, here goes:

Malts - 85% | 75%
9 lbs American 2-row pale base - 31 ppg/56 pts | 28 ppg/51 pts
1 lb American chocolate - 29 ppg/5 pts | 21 ppg/4 pts
1 lb Belgian biscuit - 30 ppg/6 pts | 26 ppg/5 pts

1 oz German Perle, 60 minutes
1 oz Centennial, 15 minutes


Target OG by Volume - 85% | 75%

5 gallons boiled - 1.067 | 1.060
6 gallons mashed - 1.052 | 1.050
6.5 gallons mashed - 1.048 | 1.046
7 gallons mashed - 1.045 | 1.043

One last question I have is regarding water profile. I have a pretty good idea of some slight alterations I’d need to make to optimize water pH (5.3 - 5.5) and mineral balance (basically, alkalinity needs to come up some for a beer this dark, and my sulfates need to come up to balance out chloride). Is it crazy to take this on my first time? Outside of what range does mash pH become ruinous, as opposed to just suboptimal?

Many thanks in advance! I’ve been having way too much fun learning about all of this stuff and am very curious to know if I’m operating in the ball park or helplessly lost in the woods.


I can’t address the water questions, but I think the recipe looks fine. It’s a bit heavy on the chocolate malt (IE more than I’ve ever used), but I’m sure that the beer will turn out fine. If it were my beer, I’d add a small amount of Caramel 60 or 80 to emulate the sweetness in graham crackers. I would mash a bit higher (154-6) since you’re using US-05, it’s a beast of a fermenter.


I would also recommend buying the Caribou Slobber ingredients because it’s my favorite NB kit. :cheers:

Thanks for the feedback!

Sorry, can you please explain what that means?
[edit]OH! Mash temp, duh. What about this recipe leads you to make that suggestion? I was going to go for 153…

Regarding chocolate-covered graham crackers, it wasn’t the goal, I just kind of realized that’s what I might get as I was typing my first post. But, now that it’s come up, it’s intriguing, and I like your suggestion for enhancing that angle. I’ll see if I can maintain SRM by halving chocolate and adding in .5 lb of caramel.

I have one bottle left of Caribou Slobber extract brew (my first ever). It’s just amazing, and keeps getting better. I’ll definitely brew the all grain version at some point soon.

Recipe sounds tasty to me and I’m not sure on this but would a pound of chocolate malt put you over the Brown Ale color?

The beer calculus
color estimate puts it at light to medium brown, but I’ve adjusted it as per Barliman’s comment, which I liked. This one is almost identical in all regards, save for color, which is pushed down to copper/red to light brown. This is good for my water profile. The balance is still straight up the middle, which is good for my taste buds :wink: .

The adjusted recipe:

Malts - 85% | 75%
9 lbs American 2-row pale base - 31 ppg/56 pts | 28 ppg/51 pts
1 lb Belgian biscuit - 30 ppg/6 pts | 26 ppg/5 pts
.5 lb American chocolate - 29 ppg/3 pts | 26 ppg/2.5 pts
.5 lb Caramel/Crystal 60L - 29 ppg/3 pts | 26 ppg/2.5 pts

1 oz German Perle, 60 minutes
1 oz Centennial, 15 minutes


Target OG by Volume - 85% | 75%

5 gallons boiled: 1.068 | 1.061
6 gallons mashed: 1.056 | 1.051
6.5 gallons mashed: 1.052 | 1.047
7 gallons mashed: 1.048 | 1.043

Any time I use US-05, the final gravity is around 1.008. That is fine if you want a dry finish, but with brown ales, I like the FG to be a little higher (1.012-15).


Heh, I actually chose US-05 because I’ve read that it’s fairly neutral (flavor-wise) and because I’ve used it twice, ending up with an FG of 1.016 (Chinook IPA extract kit) and 1.015 (Dry Irish Stout extract kit), which is right where I want to be with this one. That said, I definitely don’t want this going any lower than that, mostly because I don’t like beers to be much over 6% (I can never seem to adjust my drinking rate accordingly, and end up hurting myself :wink: ).

Can you suggest something that has a low flavor profile and still ferments well, but won’t take it down below 1.015 or so? I’d like to get an FG of 1.015 - 1.020.

All of the American ale yeast strains are pretty clean. You’ll probably want to pick from 1056, 1272, and 1450. All of those yeasts will make great beer, and all are fairly similar. Of those three yeasts, I would say 1272 is slightly more fruity than 1056, and 1450 is slightly more malty than 1056. 1056 is dry, but not as dry as US-05. I would personally use 1450 for this beer, but your description sounds like you will want 1056.

Hope this helps,



I think 1056 vs. 1450 will be decided on the basis of whether I take the plunge and add chloride to try to balance out the sulfates in my water.

And, yes, it definitely helps. Many thanks! :cheers:

[quote=“ickyfoot”] will be decided on the basis of whether I take the plunge and add chloride to try to balance out the sulfates in my water.[/quote]How much sulfate do you have?

Er, oops, I mis-spoke in that last post. I need to add sulfate to balance chloride.

Sulfate: 6.8 mg/L
Chloride: 35.4 mg/L

According to Palmer’s Mash Residual Alkalinity worksheet, this will lead to beer that is “Too Malty”. I figure 1450 wouldn’t be ideal for a balanced beer (a primary goal my first time out) if I don’t adjust the water.

On the bright side, replacing half the chocolate malt with caramel 60 brings SRMs just above the high end suggested by Palmer’s worksheet, so I feel I can probably ignore alkalinity (I’ll keep colorpHast strips and carbonates on hand just in case).

I suggest 1450. Thats just because Ive had real good results with it on a brown ale, but either of those will work.

Also the recipe looks great. I say go for it!

Thanks Adam, I’m strongly encouraged by the fact that aesthetic issues are dominating the discussion!

One other thing about the water: will the effects of ~1.9 mg/L of “residual chlorine” (as per water report) boil off when I boil the wort, or should I deal with this prior to mashing?

[quote=“ickyfoot”]One other thing about the water: will the effects of ~1.9 mg/L of “residual chlorine” (as per water report) boil off when I boil the wort, or should I deal with this prior to mashing?[/quote]Add one campden tablet to your mash and sparge water to treat the chlorine/chloramine - only takes a minute or so for the reaction.

On the sulfate/chloride - you could just add a little gypsum to the kettle to balance it out.

Awesome, thanks Shadetree.

Regarding alkalinity adjustments, I’ve read that people take a pH reading about 15 minutes after they start the mash. Does that sound good? And, if so, and I find that pH is low, should I add carbonates at that time, then stir well?

FWIW, my residual alkalinity is 19 mg/L (33 Alkalinity, 15.7 Ca, 4.9, Mg)

You’re almost for sure going to have to add some chalk or baking soda to the mash to keep the pH up. But you can certainly mash in without it, wait five minutes, and take a pH reading. If it’s low, add a little salt, stir well and check again - don’t overshoot the pH and then end up having to chase it back down again with salt or acid.

Awesome, thanks again.

Using Palmer’s mash residual alkalinity worksheet, I determined that .4g each of Gypsum and Epsom would take care of the Sulfate : Chloride imbalance and that 1.4 grams of Baking Soda and 1.25 grams of chalk would optimize pH.

Do these numbers sound reasonable? If so, I’ll add them incrementally to be sure I don’t overshoot. I’m going to use colorpHast, so I’ll shoot for a pH of 5.1 - 5.2 since they apparently measure .3 low.

I’m getting way psyched. I think I’ll leap frog the Nut Brown extract I was planning to brew next weekend and do this recipe instead. I can almost taste it (and suspect the imagined flavors are way off :wink: ).

OK, I decided to go with 1450 (ordered it on Saturday), and I bought everything I’ll need to balance my water. Guess I’m jumping in with both feet! Brew day is this Saturday, assuming yeast arrives by then. My new mash tun has been cobbled together and stands at the ready, and the aroma of crushed malts has filled my fermentation closet. Can’t wait!

So, I’ve been reading more about hops, and I’m realizing that maybe it’s odd to add Centennial so late in the boil, given it’s profile (high alpha : beta). I’ll probably stick with it, as it adds just the right amount of bitterness to make a balanced beer (according to beer calculus
), but I thought I’d ask about this. Thoughts?

If I had to pick only one hop to use all the time, Centennial would be in the top three for sure - it’s great any time in the boil.


Had a chuckle at the LHBS when I purchased the ingredients. They guy ringing people up correctly guessed what the guy before me was brewing based on the grains, hops, and yeast he had. I asked him to guess mine and after looking everything over and me telling him what yeast I am using he pondered for a few seconds and said, “Honestly, I have no clue.”

Heh. I’m grateful for the feedback here or I probably wouldn’t be so bold my first time out.

Anyway, his reaction got me to thinking: how do people categorize custom recipes that don’t target a particular style? Color? Flavor/balance? Something else?

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