So far I had my own rule of thumb, when brewing new beers. First batch as a trial version of the recipe, second one to make changes and the third one to verify the recipe by repitition. Or you brew one batch and check out its basic features. If the recipes works out, you are fine. If not, you simply do your calculations and brew a second one to adjust the first one. By blending both, you will get the final beer.
Last year it went a bit differently. As we brewed various beers of different styles, changing almost every month, I had to put more thought into recipe formulation to make them work out. It took substantially longer, but was more rewarding in the end. The feeling of getting closer to the actually brewing day makes me always nervous. For sure, you keep on thinking, what about the proportions, mouthfeel, colour scale, will the flavours match, maybe a pinch more of that specific hop and thoughts like that. I have some thoughts about the flavour profile of every single beer, which culminate at the of every respective brewing day. A bit like ideas focussing constantly until the last hops are in, and there is no way of changing the base recipe after that. Done.
With the Red Ale it has been quite a journey. I have brewed the first batch while commissioning the brew house. It actually ment for me to constantly run up and down the stairs, checking with plumbers, electricians and doing other stuff, while the German engineers were testing the equipment and brewing the Red Ale. And everything that could go wrong, went wrong (if you think of strictly following a recipe). That’s the beauty of brewing. You never know, what will happen. But at the end you always get something to drink. And as the cooling unit tripped during the main fermentation without knowing why and temperatures skyrocketed in the fermentation tank, I abandoned myself to despair. And as said before, you will always get something to drink, in that case our Altstadt Altbier, which turned out really nice, but wasn’t the Red Ale we wanted.
But I still didn’t get the right flavours (mainly fruit notes) and the right colour. So I started to change the recipe slightly, played with different malts, a bit more here, a bit less there, until at least the colour was to my liking. But still,…the fruit notes, an then it just hit me and I got rid of the previous yeast strain. So obviously simple it is.
There we are now, colour right, ester profile right, but something is still missing. That’s when I decided to incorporate a different hop into the last batch to support the berry fruit notes of the yeast esters. It will be on tap in a couple of weeks. Let’s see, how it turns out :-)!