How To Use 6-Row Malt For All-Grain

One of the base malts that is rarely used is, 6-Row brewers malt.  A lot of people blow off 6-row as a base malt and it is often overlooked.  While I personally don’t use it very much, I do find myself at times looking at 6-row as the only possible solution for what I am trying to achieve.  So this post is here to help bring better light to 6-row and how to use it in your beer. A lot of people ask,  “What is the difference between 6-row malt and 2-row malt?”.  Most of the time, homebrewers will use 2-row for their base malt.  But, there are times when using 6-row is better served and 2-row just does not have the properties that are needed to accomplish certain flavors or conversions which 6-row can.

So what is 6-row malt?

6-row malt is base malt, it’s a type of barley.  One thing to note about this particular type of malt is, it has less potential as far as the OG is concerned.  Essentially what that means for you as a brewer is, if you use 10 lbs of 2-row pale in one batch, and 10 lbs of 6-row in another batch, you would end up with a higher OG for the 2- row when comparing it against the 6-row.  The grain it self contains more proteins and it is huskier.

6 – row alt has a higher amount of amylase in it as well.  Amylase helps convert starches into fermentable sugars.  That’s why you will see with pumpkin beers or even cream beers (because they use corn), 6-row is usually the preferred malt to use.  If you are looking to do any cereal mashes, 6-row is the ticket that you want.  Having 6-row as your base malt will help get the most out of these different adjuncts to aid with flavor as well as ABV.

Flavor Of 6-Row

The flavor of 6-Row is pretty unique to me.  The only way I can ever describe it is, it has a, “grainy” flavor.  The flavor it’s self doesn’t have a lot of depth like M.O but defiantly has more flavor the 2-row brewers malt.  It’s this very, “old school”, flavor profile.  If you have tried any beers that are pre-probation recipes you’ll get the same flavor.

When To Use This Base Malt

I like it for some of my American lagers, it has this, “old school”, flavor as well as look to it.  As stated before, any beer that has corn, flaked rice, or any vegetables it would be good with.  I’ve made some, “old school”, American IPA’s with this malt that turned out pretty well.  I did a SMaSH brew with this and cluster hops, and called it a “Cluster IPA”.   Doing something like that kinda gives a feeling that you made one of the, “Original” American IPA’s.

My Personal Preference With 6-Row

When I go all-grain, I tend to lean on M.O or just American Brewers malt.  Both of these seem to do pretty well.  When I’m making beers that don’t have a lot of specialty grains I really like to use M.O.  It brings out this nice biscuit flavor.  To me M.O is nice if you want a malt forward beer or if you are hopping the beer like crazy because it has this nice, “back bone” to it.  If you really are looking for specialty grains in your beer, then 2-row pale/2 row- brewers malt is what you might want.  The 2-row pale and 2-row brewers malt doesn’t bring a lot of flavor into the beer.

And that is where 6-row usually falls.  Not a lot of space for it. It fit’s into this box that is narrow but well defined.  Any old style American lager, or any starch like beer, American 6-row is going to find its place.  Also the one thing about 6-Row is, it is pretty husky.  That makes it great for if you are making a wheat.  It will help prevent any stuck sparges.


At the end, it is an underused base malt but it’s easy to see why. There are times when it does make sense to use it and I would not avoid using it in those circumstances.  If you are looking to bring out any really cool flavors I would play around with it and maybe even make a SMaSH just to see how the flavors work with it.

I do want to hear about if you use 6-Row at all and if you do, when and how you use it!   Leave your comments below!


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How To Improve/Build Your Own Pumpkin Beer

It’s fall and if you are brewing with the season, this is the time of year where people start making the pumpkin brews.  If you are like me you’ve tasted lot’s of pumpkin beers.  I’ve found myself in the past making pumpkin beers even though I really don’t like them but rather because it’s, “What you are supposed to do”, as a homebrewer.  I told myself that this year I was going to do a pumpkin beer that I actually like, and it’s not really even a 100% pumpkin beer.

So how do I make a pumpkin beer without going all pumpkin?  What I do is, cut the amount of pumpkin with either : 1) Butternut squash or 2) Acorn squash.  I say either or, because some people like one over the other.  But if you don’t really care, then either will work.  I tend to lean towards the acorn squash when I make mine.

Why This Route May Be For You

If you are like me and in the past you have found that when you drink a pumpkin ale, all you can taste is the spices and not actual pumpkin.  If that is the case and you want to taste the squash, this route may be for you.  For me I actually want to taste the pumpkin itself, not the spices.  My personal opinion is if you can’t taste the pumpkin then what was the point of even adding it, so you can say it’s a pumpkin ale?  I would just say it’s a spiced fall beer.  That is why I’m adding and also suggest to add other types of squash to the pumpkin ale, these different types of squash really shine in the beer and will accent the pumpkin flavor to a point of being recognizable.

How To Build A Recipe That Will Accept A Pumpkin Flavor

We wrote a post a while back on how to build your own recipe.  In it we really talk about focal points.  What a focal point is, is the characteristic that you are trying to bring out of the beer.  For this pumpkin beer what we are going for is a strong pumpkin/squash flavor.  So how do we do that?  We strip down every thing that does not contribute to that pumpkin flavor.  Building a basic recipe for this beer is better, don’t go crazy.

Specialty Grains For This Beer

As a base recipe, I would use something that resembles a pale ale, standard bitter, brown ale, light porter or amber.  I would do minimal specialty grains and probably something that has malty flavors to really accent on the pumpkin also.  A rule of thumb for this would be  1 lbs – 1.5 lbs of specialty grains and something on the lines of, Munich, Vienna, Amber malt, victory, or biscuit.  If you choose to make a brown or a porter, I would suggest using butternut squash because not the acorn squash because it has a hazelnut after flavor when you brew with it.  If you want to use some recipes as a base recipe, check out beertools and just see what some look like, copy and tweak things you think look good.

Hop Addition For Pumpkin Beer

When I do the hops for pumpkin or squash beer, I do a first wort hop addition (FWH).  The funny thing is that I use to do these all the time when I first started brewing by, “mistake”, but I honestly like the way that they taste, and not sure why more people don’t use them.

A FWH addition is when you add the hops to the wort before it even begins to boil, then you bring it to a boil.  What this does is provides a less, “harsh”, bitter flavor to your beer.  There is a scientific reason for this that I won’t get into, but if your interested here is a link .

Going back to FWH, it will keep the hops uniformed for your main attraction, the pumpkin/squash.  Also for the hops with FWH I would go for something between 6AAU and 10AAU, that’s personal choice though; just a suggestion (If you don’t know what AAU are click here).  I honestly wouldn’t add any aroma hops with it if you were planning on spicing it because it’s going to take away from the spices or it’s going to be faded out by the spices.  For this beer, simple is going to be better.  Also last tip, since squash has an earthy flavor, use earthy hops not citrus hops. If you keep a common theme, it will be less chaotic.

How Much Pumpkin/Squash Should Be Added?

I usually go with 6 lbs – 10 lbs of pumpkin for a, “normal” pumpkin beer.  For this recipe though I want to use squash as well, so if you wanted to cut the pumpkin I would go with a 3:2 ratio of squash to pumpkin or even a 2:1 ratio. That goes for the total weight before it’s cleaned.  So for me I’m going use 3 acorn squashes (they normally weigh about 2 lbs -3 lbs each) and 1 small (and I’m talking I only want 2 lbs of pumpkin small) pumpkin.

How To Use Pumpkin/Squash In A Recipe

When using pumpkin/squash, heat your oven to about 350.  Cut and clean your pumpkin/squash and then put it in the oven until it turns a bit brown and starts to caramelize up.   A suggestion that a customer gave me that is worth sharing is, he said he does this the day before and then freezes it.  The reason for freezing it is, that it is easier to take the skin off the squash/pumpkin because you really don’t want to steep it with it.

When To Add The Pumpkin/Squash Into The Beer Recipe

Put the pumpkin/squash in with the specialty grains and steep them.  In the past though I really try to steep my grains and squash for about one hour if I can.  The reason for this is I want to get as much out of it as possible.  Also I’ll use a bit more water then I normally would, closer to 3.5 gallons (if I’m doing specialty grains) because the pumpkin/squash will absorb some.  If you are doing all-grain just add them in with the mash, and make sure to include about a 1 pound of rice hulls so you don’t get a stuck sparge if you don’t really trust your sparging abilities.

Pumpkin Spices

If you really wanted to add some spices to your beer (which I’m not), what I would suggest is wait until the very end.  If you add it in the boil, you will pick up flavors with it.  I would try to do it right before you bottle or keg.  This gives you a bit of a handicap.  You will just pick up on the smell of the spices, but the pumpkin or squash will be what you taste.  The hops at the end will be smooth and with out a, “harsh” bittering flavor.  So for me, I’m not doing any spices at all.  I don’t want this to be a pumpkin pie recipe, just pumpkin (and squash of course) recipe.

There Is Still Time

There is still plenty of time left for this recipe, you can make it and have it ready for thanksgiving or just a fall time beer.   Pretty soon, I’ll be putting up some idea’s for xmas brews that you can do – of course the typical with the spices but also what I plan on doing this year to avoid spiced beers.  Hope you enjoy.


Other Post We Have About Pumpkin Ale’s

1) Pumpkin Pie Recipe

2) Pumpkin Pie Recipe Variation

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Formulas You Need To Know For ABV

Sometimes when making a recipe it’s a lot easier to work backwards.   Maybe you’ll think to yourself, “I would really like to make a beer that is 9% ABV”.  Well to know how to answer this question you can use a formula to figure out how much DME or LME to use.

To calculate ABV:

(ABV/0.84) = approximate number of pounds of DME to use in a recipe

(ABV/0.71)  = approximate number of pounds of LME to use in a recipe.

To show how this would work, lets say you want to make a 9.5% beer and you know you wanted to use dry malt extract.  The formula would look like this:

(9.5/0.84) =approximate number of pounds of DME to use in a recipe

(9.5/0.84) = 11.4 lbs of dry malt extract.

The other formula that might be helpful is if you think in OG instead of ABV.  When you are thinking in terms of original gravity the formula that you might want to use is this:

Using Extracts To Find Original Gravity:

(((Original Gravity – 1)(5))/0.044) = Approximate number of pounds of DME required to achieve correct original gravity

(((Original Gravity – 1)(5))/0.037) = Approximate number of pounds of  LME required to achieve correct original gravity

An example of how to use this formula is, if you wanted to have a gravity of 1.056 but you didn’t know how much malt extract add you would use the formula above

(((1.056-1)(5))/0.044) =

(((0.056)(5))/0.044) =

(.28/0.044) =

(.28/0.044) = 6.36 lbs of  dry malt extract to get a gravity of 1.056


This formula does not put into account the use of specialty grains.  So I would not hold an absolute value on the number that you get at the end rather, I would use these formula’s for ballpark figures.   If  you are an all-grain brewer, we do have a conversion chart to help you out with that as well, hope it helps.




Related Post

How To Calculate AAU

10 Favorite Post Of 2012

Great IPA’s For Those That Don’t Like IPA’s

How To Improve Your Pumpkin Ale



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How To Design A Recipe – Step 7 Final Step

So to finish off this series we are going to create a few recipes to show what we have learned.  We have gone through a lot and now it’s time to test the knowledge and put into some practical use.

First off let’s do an American Pale Ale

(The Sweet Nectar Of Life)

Starting off with flavor from specialty grains.  I would like it to have a bready flavor, kinda sweet with a biscuit after flavor and good head retention.  So with that said I’m going to go with:

Munich Malt – bready flavor kinda sweet

Victory – Biscuit flavor

Carapils – head retention.

I want good head retention and a bready flavor so that will be more then the biscuit will be in the back ground.

.5 lb Carapils

.5 lb Munich Malt

.25 lb carapils

I want a 5ish% for the ABV so it can be drank easily.  So that means

 (This can happen if you have too many brews over 5%, you turn into, “that guy”)

7 lbs LME or 6 lbs DME (Malt Extract Post Has Got This Info In It)

So what we have right now is:

.5 lb Carapils

.5 lb Munich Malt

.25 lb carapils

7 lbs LME or 6 lbs DME

Next let’s do the hops.  An American Pale Ale needs American hops.

.5 oz Galena 60min

1 oz Cascade  5min

Those hops will give a classic American Hop flavor as well as aroma.

Now for the yeast.  For anything American, a classic strain of yeast is California 001, so that is what we are going to use.

So the recipe looks like this.

5 lb Carapils

.5 lb Munich Malt

.25 lb carapils

7 lbs LME or 6 lbs DME

.5 oz Galena 60min

1 oz Cascade 5min

California 001

And that is a recipe for a pale ale.

To try one more, let’s do brown ale.

Same process.  I want this beer to be sweet darker, malty and have nutty flavors.   For that we’ll choose 60L crystal, toasted malt which we will have to make and victory malt.

To make toasted malt take 2-row and put it in the oven at 300 for 15 minutes.  Around this time you will smell it turning nutty.  Some might say that you need to keep it in a paper bag and let it, “mellow” out in time but truth be told with regular toasted malt I have had no trouble using it right away.

To really have that biscuit flavor you would want to use M.O for base malt, for extract you will just need to add a bit more of the victory to it to make it taste biscuit like.  So the specialty grains will look like this.

.75 lbs Victory

. 5 lbs 60L Crystal Malt

.25 lbs Toasted Malt

As far as the malt extract typically browns are a bit lighter in the ABV department.  So lets shoot for 4.5%. That will be about 5 lbs DME.  We are going to use golden light because we are using specialty grains and don’t need any other flavors.

So for the recipe looks like:

.75 lbs Victory

. 5 lbs 60L Crystal Malt

.25 lbs Toasted Malt

5 lbs DME Golden light

Now off to the hops.  We want earthy hops from the European region.  The hops we are going to use are Kent goldings and fuggles.

1 oz Fuggles (60min)

1 oz East Kent Golding (15min)

As far as yeast goes, your choices are 002 English Ale, 005 British Ale, 013 London Ale, 023 Burton Ale.  For me I have become a really big fan of 013 London Ale yeast.  It makes a pretty leveled out beer which is malty enough to bring out the British Style. So the recipe looks like.

.75 lbs Victory

. 5 lbs 60L Crystal Malt

.25 lbs Toasted Malt

5 lbs DME Golden light

1 oz Fuggles (60min)

1 oz East Kent Golding (15min)

London Ale Yeast 013.

With all recipes they pretty much follow the normal set up of take 2.5 gallons of water, heat up to 150 steep grains for 30min then take out add malt extract.  You don’t have to add all of your malt extract to the beer in the beginning there is a reason why you can and some might say should add it in two different sections.  We do have a post about it.
When you see the number in time next to the hop that means the amount of time the hops are boiled for.

So that sums up our recipe series.  Hope you enjoyed and now feel confident on how to build your own recipes.



Related Post

Design A Recipe 1

Design A Recipe 2

Design A Recipe 3

Design A Recipe 4

Design A Recipe 5

Design A Recipe 6


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How To Design Your Own Beer Recipe – Step 6 – Yeast

The easiest way to change your beer around, is by changing your east.  Our blog has quite a few post on yeast in general, so to save your eyes consider this post as a directory to useful information.

When looking at your beer recipe one thing that you need to consider is if it is a lager or an ale.  Lagers are bottom fermenting so they like to ferment at cooler temps (around 55F) while ale’s are top fermenting and they ferment at higher temps (room temp).

If you wanted to brew a lager but you can only do ale’s because of your set up, I would recommend you do a little research on the yeast that might work for you. Normally it will come down to 029, 036 or 060.  These yeast strains are fairly clean leaving what I call, “A faux lager” taste.  They are more crisp.

The biggest thing with yeast is to choose a style of yeast that compliments the style of beer you are making, try to keep it to the region.  Usually there is not just one style of yeast that works for your beer but several, especially when it comes to liquid yeast.  We do have a yeast chart for white labs that has the descriptions of the yeast.

When looking at the yeast chart for white labs you will need to consider flocculation as well as attenuation .

If you really don’t want to get into liquid yeast or because you are ordering your yeast over the internet it may make more sense to have dry yeast.  Here are some dry yeast descriptions.

Yeast is super subjective on what you want to use but I think that the main points for it are just to be flexible and you can make one recipe and use 3 different yeast on it, and it will taste different every single time.

One way to save money per recipe is to culture your own yeast.  We do have a post on how to do it.   It’s the way that I was taught on how to do it.

That said it pretty much covers the main points for yeast.  The next part is the last part to our series on how to develop your own recipe.  We will put everything together and do a few examples of recipes.


Final Step


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How To Design Your Own Beer Recipe – Step 4 – Malt Extract

If you are at this point hopefully you have a basic understanding of specialty grains and the hops, now time to get the gist of malt extract.  Malt extract comes in dry (dme) and liquid (lme) form.

For ease of this conversation I will be using LME as examples but we do have a conversion chart that might help some if you like the dry.

How Much Malt Extract Do I Need?

This one has a general rule to follow for when you are creating a recipe.  Use 1 lb of LME per gallon or 1.5 lbs per gallon for a richer brew.

For a 5 gallon recipe, that would mean that you will start with about 5 lbs LME or up to 7.5 lbs of LME.

Doing this will get you in the ball park of 5% ABV with consideration of grains used.

When Does That Rule Not Apply?

Depending on the recipe you may want more or less.  When a brew is heavily hopped you will want to add more malt extract and if a brew is not that hopped then you will want add less – in general.   If you want more alcohol go heavier, if you want it lighter add less.  Pretty simple stuff.

How Will I Know What The OG Is Gonna Be?

There are calculators out there like beertools or this free one which help.

Do I Chose Amber, Pilsen, Golden Light, Wheat, or Dark Malt Extract?

When I make my own recipes, I use only Pilsen light or Golden light malt extract (exceptions are wheat beers which I use wheat lme).  The way that I change the color as well as the taste of the beer is by specialty grains.

Now if you weren’t planning on using that many or any specialty grains, the colored types of malt extract (dark or amber) might be a better choice for you.

All malt extracts were made from grains.  Below shows how these different malt extracts were made.

Golden Light is made from – 2 row

Pilsen light is made from – pilsner malt

Amber malt is made from – 90% 2 row and 10% crystal malt (or 95% 2 row 5% crystal malt depending on manufacturer)

Dark malt is made from – 90% 2 row 5% Chocolate 5% Roasted Barley

To go full circle, you don’t want to add to many specialty grains with amber malt extract or dark malt extract because in my opinion it can get carried away pretty fast since they already included specialty grains in the making.

In my opinion, if you wanted to really add complexity with specialty grains I would  advise to  stick with pilsen light or golden light malt extract.


Both have there advantages and disadvantages.

LME is nice to work with in the fact that when you put it in the pot it doesn’t turn into a dust cloud of stickyness when it hits the steam.  The problem with it is sometimes it can burn on the bottom of the pot if you add it without heating it up.

The, “correct” way to work with it is, take a tea kettle of hot water and soak the packaging of the LME so it becomes loose.  That way when you add it to the water it doesn’t sink to the bottom and burn immediately.

DME has an advantage that when you add it, it will not burn to the bottom of the pot because it will float to the top of the water.  The problem with it is that sometimes it is hard to break up once it floats to the top of the pot.

A Quick Shout Out For All-Grain Brewers…

Don’t think I forgot about you guys.  When you are making recipes all-grain you  have a little more wiggle room because of the fact that there are so many base malts.  We have a post about flavor profiles of the base malts.

A general rule of thumb for all-grain brewers is you want to use somewhere around 7.5lbs of base malt up to 10 lbs of base malt.  Using that amount of malts will again get you in a 5% range for beer.

Note: If you use M.O you really don’t need to add too much more victory or biscuit malt because it already carries that flavor with it. 

Is 5% ABV Beer Important?

The only reason is that it is what I consider a, “standard” ABV for beer.  With 5% ABV you follow fermentation as normal.  If you go much higher you might need to do secondary or keep it in bottles longer to condition otherwise it will taste, “hot”.

If you go to much lower it will be light and if you are not going for a session beer then you will probably think that your beer is weak.

At 5% though you can do a lot to the beer and is a fairly easy beer to drink.


See not too bad for this time around.  Next is water treatment, if you chose to go down that road or not it is something that you might consider.

Leave your comments or questions in the space below, and have a happy valentine’s day!


Next Step

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How To Design Your Own Beer Recipe – Step 3 – Using Hops

We now have a basic understanding of some different types of hops.  It is time to tie everything together with hops and really learn how to use this knowledge for designing your beer.

This part on hops is  really subjective, everyone will have their own opinion and there are tons of theories and ways.  So I’ll just share how I do it and incorporate some basic rules of thumb.  

Also keep this in perspective we’re not building a rocket but rather a beer – which will make you drunk if you have too many of them (or the right amount of them depending on how you look at it).

How To Use Hops

When it comes to using hops you are going to find your  niche and stick in a ball park of hops that you use.  Most likely if you love Imperial IPA’s, you will not find a mild or hefe that attractive.  The same goes in the other direction, if your favorite beer is a mild, most likely you are not jonesing for and Imperial IPA day in and day out.  With each style of beer there are hops that are favorable to that style and ones that are not  so favorable.

When To Add Hops 101

There are 3 ways to use hops: 1) Bittering 2) Flavoring 3) Aroma.  The names for these are pretty self descriptive.


You add this in the beginning of the boil.  These will be boiled for a total of 60min or more.


These are added usually somewhere around the 30-15min left in the boil mark.


These are added in the last 12 minutes of the boil and including dry hopping.

Quick Conclusion: 

As hops are boiled, the aroma compounds are driven off then the flavor leaving just the bitterness.  If there is little to no boil then there is no bitter just nose. 

How many ounces should I add to my beer?

This is subjective to a degree.  There are different types of software out there that will help you figure out the IBU’s which is the measurement that lets you know how hoppy your beer will be.  Depending on your style of beer there are, “guidelines” on what is style appropriate.

For me, I drink a lot of lighter beers – session brews.  The type that I get home from work and you can have one, two, three of them and still walk straight.  These are my favorite to make/drink.

When I make a session beer, I just know from past history that I like around 1.5 oz of hops to 2 oz of hops.  The alpha acid is going to be at the highest 6-7% for the hops. Doing this will leave me in the ball park of 20-30 IBU’s.  Having the total IBU’s in this range is style appropriate (11A).

So to answer the original question, how many ounces you should you add? It’s either you know from past experience or you get software like beersmith or beertools to help with the IBU (there are formulas out on the web as well).  We also have a free interface for figuring out the IBU’s.

What should I look at with the Alpha Acid?

This is going to give you a big clue on when to add it into the beer and how hoppy it is going to be.  In general since I don’t make a ton of bitter beers, I add the highest alpha acids at the end of the boil for the aroma and the lower alpha acids in the beginning.  The higher the alpha acid the more bitter the beer will be.

By adding the higher alpha acid at the end and focusing that on the nose, it gives the perception that beer has more hops then it really does (in my opinion).  You smell the beer, you smell hops, your tongue will search for confirmation of what it just smelled.  It’s a technique I started to use after brewing with a buddy that would dry hop everything and really lay low on the bittering side.  Just became habbit  for me to dry hop or to do flame outs (adding hops with 0 minutes left in the boil) with higher alpha acids.

How many different hops should I add?

This is one of those that I’m sure everyone has an opinion on but here is mine, I  would not add more than 3 or 4 different hops.  There are combo’s that normally exist that work really well together.  If you were going to throw a lot of different types out there I just feel that the flavors and the aromas run together- it gets sloppy.  If you only added one type of hop it can get boring.

I figure it to be like dancing in a way.  Just doing one move over and over again kinda gets boring, do a couple in a row then it looks better.  Although I must confess, if you want to learn a certain hop I would suggest make a, “Cascade Pale Ale” or a “Northern Brewer Ale” where you use only 1 hop.  You could add it in for each of the bittering, flavor, and aroma and really just learn that hop inside and out.

I should clarify also, there is nothing wrong with just adding 1 hop especially if you are going for simple/cheap.  However, I would just be reluctant to say that it is a very demensional beer in the hop region.  It really goes back to what your focal point is.  If you were adding spices to your brew you proboly wouldn’t want hops to cover up the nose of the spices which would be added in the flavor/aroma.

Hop Combos?

Yep, there are combo’s.  Just like in cooking you will usually add salt and pepper – peppers and onions – ketchup and mustard.  You find that certain hops will compliment other hops really well.  Here are a few examples of different hop combo’s.  They are listed as when they go in the boil (bittering, flavoring, aroma).

(A Combo That Has Me Salivating)

English Style Combo’s

  • Fuggles, East Kent Goldings, Styrian Golding
  • Fuggles, East Kent Goldings, Willamette
  • East Kent, Fuggles, Willamette
  • East Kent Goldings, Styrian Goldings

German Style Combo’s

  • Any noble hop series is fine

American Style Combo’s

  • Cascade, Chinook, Columbus
  • Cascade, Centennial, Chinook
  • Cascade, Magnum
  • Galena, Centennial, Cascade
  • Warrior, Amarillo, Simcoe
  • Warrior, Simcoe, Amarillo
  • Mt. Hood, Crystal

Belgian Style Combo’s

  • Saaz, Crystal
  • Saaz, Styrian Goldings

These are all different ones that I could think of off the top of my head, there are so many more.  There is an easy way to know how to create combos that go well together.

The easiest way to figure out how to come up with a combo of hops for your recipe is,  find a hop description that you like, then find the substitutes and there you go.  They will taste different enough that they will add some complexity to it.  Hop substitutes and hop descriptions can be found on our previous post about hops.

What Not To Do

Another rule of thumb is don’t mix and match to many.  If you want a citrus hop flavor stick within citrus hops.  I would not advise to add citrus as well as earthy to it.  They can start to clash when you go down that road.  It’s a big rule of thumb and there are many contradictions to that.  But if you are a beginner into making your own recipes, stay away from that for your first few.

This is going to sound contradicting but you can do it in some cases and it will turn out good (just like people that add ranch to pizza, sounds weird but suprisingly pretty good) you just have to get a feel for what works well and what doesn’t, and that just takes time.  For your first few, wouldn’t recommend going crazy.


Being Familiar With Where Hops Are From Can Help

Another way and probably a better way to know which hops go together is know this: hops can be kinda, “clicky”.  Hops generally work really well together with other hops that are in their region.  In general you can take German hops and they will blend with German hops very well.  English hops will blend well with English hops.  To avoid a clash of certain flavors, I wouldn’t start mixing and matching too much from different regions (Example would be American Hops with English Hops = walking on a tight rope).

When To Add In The Hops?

Typically I will have 2 or 3 hop infusions in my boil.  Using the calculator off of our website I’ll show you what it does to the boil using the example of a total of 2 ounces and 3 different hops – Fuggles, East Kent Goldings, Styrian Goldings.  These are examples on when to add in hops in the boil as well as what it does to the IBU’s.

Example 1

1 oz Fuggles (60min)

.5 oz East Kent Goldings (30min)

.5 oz Styrian Goldings (5min)

Total IBU: 22

Example 2

1 oz Fuggles (60min)

.5 oz East Kent Goldings (45min)

.5 oz Styrian Goldings (12min)

Total IBU: 25

Example 3

1 oz East Kent Goldings (60min)

.5 oz Fuggles (45min)

.5 oz Styrian Goldings (5min)

Total IBU: 24

Now any of those are the types of combo’s I would use for a mild/brown/session.

You can also do things like the example below if you want to add another dimension of complexity still using the Fuggle, EKG, and Styrian Goldings exp.

Example 4

.5 oz Fuggle (60min)

.25 oz East Kent Goldings (45min)

.25 oz Fuggles (45min)

.25 oz East Kent Goldings (30min)

.25 oz Fuggles (30min)

.25 oz Styrian Goldings (15min)

.25 oz Styrian Goldings (5min)

Total IBU: 24

It still has a total of 2 ounces but you can just layer the flavors/aromas to make the beer a bit more complex.

There are other ways to add hops to your beer like continuous hoping, dry hoping, and flame outs.  For the first few recipes I would stay away and just keep it simple using something like example 1 or example 2 for your hop schedule.

To Sum Everything Up

(You know you’re lost if you have a road map in the middle of a field)

So hopefully you are not entirely lost at this point int time.  But what you do know and hopefully are getting a grasp on are some main points.

  • Hops have different flavors
  • When picking hops to use, keep to regions
  • Some couple better than others
  • Choose hops based towards the style of beer that you are going to make
  • Think of 2 or 3 different hops
  • Find the hops by looking at substitutes
  • There are 3 different times you can add hops in your boil
  • You can make it really complicated if you want

Keep It In Perspective:

Just remember your beer is going to turn out.  It may not be the way that you intended it to be but, unless you go crazy with something it’s still going to be drinkable.  I wouldn’t sweat to much about it.   And if its bad, just have a few more of them and all of a sudden they start to taste better.

(A young homebrewer having a sigh of relief)

The next part to this series is actually going to be pretty easy.  The next part is about malt extract that needs to be added if you are an extract with specialty grains brewer or base malts added for all-grain brewers.  Everything is down hill from here.

Good luck!


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How To Design Your Own Beer Recipe Series – Step 2 – Hops Selection

Specialty grains can be used to make the beer more, “Complex” in the malty aspect, but another part that makes the beer more complex is the hops.  Now hops can either be the main focal point of your beer or they can be used just to accent your grains and the flavors that come from your malt.

I started writing this post up and it just started to become a lot of information to be put out there at one time.  So the hop section is going to be broken down 2 different sections: 1) Hop profiles/substitutions 2) How to make couples of them and general rules of thumb when adding them.  My hope is by doing this it won’t be as overwhelming and also it’s just easier to digest.

Hop flavor profiles

Much like the grains, the best way to learn about hops is eat them and smell them up.  You’ll start to figure out what your favorites are.  At the end of the day though it’s nice to have a reference guide.

In the past we put together a hop profile post which is very good. BYO has a pretty good hop profile as well. With that said though, brew365 has a cool one because they include charts, and we all know charts are awesome.   If there are gaps, just check out any of the other links posted above.

(I get all sorts of happy when you mention charts)

So let me explain what you are going to see below.

Below shows the  flavor profile of the hops, how it is typically used (and it is suggestive in that fashion), alpha acid, and the characteristic with a graph.

Now you really don’t have to memorize the hops but being familiar with them does really help in the future.  After using them time and time again, memorization happens naturally.

The other chart on the bottom is a good hop substitution chart.  This knowledge is pretty good for learning what couples with what.  It is pretty helpful when you get to the point of wanting to add multiple hops in a brew. This information can be found on Brew 365 website as well.

How to use this info

So to really take this in all the way, I would glance over this and just familiar.  All of this information will be handy in the next part.


Ahtanum Hops


Ahtanum is an aroma/flavoring hop variety that is similar to Cascade or Amarillo. It has a citrus and floral character much like cascade with the addition of some piney or earth notes. Grapefruit quality is more forward in than in cascade as well. Alpha acids are lower than cascade at 4 to 6.5% AAU making Ahtanum a good choice for a flavor addition when you do not want to impart quite the bitterness of cascade or amarillo.
Beer styles suited for Ahtanum include American APA, American IPA, Light lagers. I also think they would be nice in a brown ale.


Typical Use : Aroma/Flavor
Alpha Acid : 4 to 6.5% AAU
Origination : USA ?
Characteristics : Floral, citrus, piney, sharp
Styles : American Ales & Lagers
Similar Hops : Cascade, Amarillo
Commercial Examples : Arrogant Bastard, Sierra Nevada Celebration


Hop Characteristics Unavailable

Amarillo Hops


Amarillo is a relatively new American hop variety that has been described as “super cascade.” The bitterness is between 5 and 11% AAU, making Amarillo a good hop for flavor and aroma additions.

The flavor profile is very citrusy, especially leaning toward a distinct orange flavor and aroma. I also find Amarillo to be somewhat sweet until it mellows out in a beer.
This hop was reportedly discovered and introduced by Virgil Gamache Farms Inc. and resulted as a mutation of another hop variety.


Typical Use : Flavor/Aroma – sometimes bittering for higher AAU Crops
Alpha Acid : 5 to 11% AAU (variable)
Origination : USA
Commercial Examples : Three Floyds Gumballhead
Characteristics : Citrus, Orange, Sweet
Styles : American Pale Ale, American IPA
Similar Hops : Cascade, Ahtanum


Hop Characteristics Unavailable

Bravo Hops


Bravo is a somewhat recent US cultivar with a parentage from the Zeus hop variety. With its relatively high alpha acid content (14 – 17%AA) Bravo is a good choice of a bittering base.
Aromatic qualities of Bravo range from being described as Earthy and Herbal to somewhat Floral as well as spicy.
Bravo has gained some popularity when hops have been in short supply and have been featured in a series of US West Coast IPAs.


Typical Use : Bittering
Alpha Acid : 14 to 17% AAU
Origination : USA
Characteristics : Earthy, Spicy, Floral
Styles : American IPA, Pale Ale
Similar Hops : Nugget


Hop Characteristics Unavailable

Cascade Hops

An American Standard

Cascade hops are an all-American hop primarily whose primary use can be seen in the American Pale Ale and IPA styles. They are primarily used as an aroma hop in the last half of the boil.
Additionally, Cascades are a great choice for dry hopping.


Typical Use : Aroma
Alpha Acid : 4 to 8% AAU
Origination : USA
Commercial Examples : Exemplified in Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Characteristics : Floral, Spicy, Citrus Fruit
Styles : American Pale Ale, American IPA
Similar Hops : Centennial, Amarillo (higher AA)


Hop Characteristics Unavailable

Centennial Hops


Centennial (once called CFJ90) is fast becoming one of the defining hops of the American Ale (APA & IPA) style. One of the “C” hops, along with Cascade, Chinook, and Columbus. Centennial imparts a pungent, citrus-like flavor and aroma. This particular “C” hop, however, is good when you are not looking to impart quite the floral aromas that you might find in Cascade.
Bitterness is between 9 to 12% AAU, making this a good dual purpose hop variety for either bittering or flavor/aroma additions.

If you’re a fan of beers like Stone IPA or Bell’s Two Hearted IPA – this is the hop for you my friend.


Typical Use : Bitterness/Flavor/Aroma
Alpha Acid : 9 to 12% AAU
Origination : USA
Characteristics : Pungent, Floral, Citrus
Styles : American Pale Ale, American IPA
Similar Hops : Cascade, Chinook, Columbus


Hop Characteristics Unavailable

Challenger Hops


Challenger was bred in the UK from the Northern Brewer variety and released in the late 1960’s. At an average 8% alpha acid, challenger is a good dual-purpose hop for both bittering and flavor/aroma.
The aroma is strong with refined spicy notes and can even have a fruity character.
Challenger blends well with other English hops and is a good substitute for Northern Brewer or Perle hops.


Typical Use : Aroma, Bittering
Alpha Acid : 8% AAU
Origination : UK
Commercial Examples : Fullers ESB
Characteristics : Spicy
Styles : ESB, Porter, Stout, Barleywine, UK Brown Ale
Similar Hops : Northern Brewer, Target, Perle

Chinook Hops


Chinook hops were developed in the early 1980s in Washington state by the USDA as a variant of the Goldings Hop. Typically used for bittering (12 to 14% AAU), Chinook imparts a rich, pronounced aroma with a citrus component. If employed later in the boil, Chinook imparts a herbal, almost smoky aroma.


Typical Use : Primarily Bittering but can be used as aroma
Alpha Acid : 12 to 14% AAU
Origination : USA
Characteristics : Rich, herbal, smoky
Styles : Pale Ale, Wheat, Porter, Stout
Similar Hops : Brewers Gold, Nugget, Galena
Commercial Examples : Arrogant Bastard, Sierra Nevada Celebration


Hop Characteristics Unavailable

Citra Hops


Citra is a new moderately-high acid (10-12%) US hop variety releaset sometime in 2008. Citra is a cross between several hop varieties including Hallertau Mittelfreuh, U.s. Tettnanger, E.K. Goldings, and other unknown varieties.

The aroma is reported to be very fruity (citrus fruits especially.) Descriptors I have seen used include: grapefruit, lime, melon, gooseberry, lychee fruit.


Typical Use : Multi Purposse Alpha Acid : 10 to 12% AAU
Origination : USA
Characteristics : Citrusy
Styles : I’ve only heard of this in IPA
Similar Hops : Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA

Cluster Hops


Cluster is classic American hop developed for US large breweries. It is a low to medium acid (5 to 8.5% AAU) hop that imparts a clean, neutral, somewhat floral bitterness.
At higher alpha levels, Cluster is appropriate for use in bittering and, at all levels, is good for aroma and finish. Cluster can be used in a wide range of beers.


Typical Use : Bitter/Aroma/Flavor
Alpha Acid : 5 to 8.5% AAU
Origination : USA
Characteristics : Neutral, Somewhat Floral
Styles : Most any style.
Similar Hops : Galena, Eroica.


Hop Characteristics Unavailable

Columbus Hops


Columbus (also known as Tomahawk) is a relatively new hop variety patented in the USA by HopUnion Inc. Being relatively high in alpha acid (14 to 16%), Columbus make a great bittering hop. In addition, unlike some of the other high-alpha hops, Columbus provides a nice flavor profile as well, making it a wonderful all-around hop and a good candidate for single-hopped pale ales and IPA.
Flavors are earthy, spicy, and pungent with a citrus component – yet mild and not overwhelming.


Typical Use : Bittering/Aroma
Alpha Acid : 14 to 16% AAU
Origination : USA
Characteristics : Spicy, pungent, earthy
Styles : IPA, Pale Ale, Stout
Similar Hops : Nugget, Chinook, Northern Brewer


Hop Characteristics Unavailable

Crystal Hops


Crystal is a US hop variety with parentage going back to Hallertau. Like its parent, Crystal has a relatively low alpha acid range (3.5 to 5.5%) and is best-used in the last part of the boil to impart flavor and aroma constituents.
Like Hallertau, Crystal is somewhat spicy, earthy and noble. However, crystal is said to be much more pungent and, some say, harsh than the related German relatives.


Typical Use : Aroma
Alpha Acid : 3.5 to 5.5% AAU
Origination : USA
Characteristics : Vegetal,Spicy, Earthy, Pungent
Styles : US Pale Ale, Brown Ale, UK style Ales
Similar Hops : Hallertau, Tettnang, Mt.Hood


Hop Characteristics Unavailable

Fuggle Hops


Fuggle (or Fuggles, as some say) is a traditional, old-world style aroma hop originating in the UK. According to the National Hop Association of England, the culitvar was first grown in Kent in 1875 by Richard Fuggle.
This hop imarts a mild vegetal, woody, or earthy aroma. Alpha acids are low (3.5 to 5% AAU). Fuggle is grown in the USA (Washington and Oregon) and imparts a bit less of the characteristic aroma when compared to its English cousin.
As one would expect, this hop is most often used in British style beers such as bitters, mild, British pale ale, stout, porter, and English style IPA.


Typical Use : Aroma
Alpha Acid : 3.5 to 5.5% AAU
Origination : UK
Characteristics : Woody, Vegetal
Styles : Most any traditional English style, (esp. Pale Ale, porter)
Similar Hops : U.S. Fuggle, Willamette, Styrian Golding.


Hop Characteristics Unavailable

Galena Hops


Galena is a high-alpha (12 to 14% AAU) all purpose bittering hop. This is a pungent, very bitter variety that can be used in a wide range of beer styles.
According to John Palmer’s How To Brew webpage, Galena is “the most widely used commercial bittering hop in the US.”


Typical Use : Bittering Alpha Acid : 12 to 14% AAU
Origination : USA
Characteristics : Clean, Pungent
Styles : Most any style as bittering component
Similar Hops : Brewers Gold, Chinook, Nugget.


Hop Characteristics Unavailable

Glacier Hops


Glacier is newer (2000) multi-purpose hop variety released by Washington State University for its low CoHumulone content and pleasant bitterness characteristics. Alpha acids are low-moderate at about 5.5% on average. The aroma is fragrant and pleasing with a slight citrus character balanced by moderated earthy qualities. Think somewhere between Willamette and Fuggle with less of the Fuggle’s pungency.


Released in 2000 by Washington State University for its pleasant aroma qualities and cohumulone content.


Typical Use : Aroma
Alpha Acid : 5.5% AAU
Origination : USA
Characteristics : Neutral with some floral/citrus
Styles : Wide variety of uses: American Ales, Wheats, Light Lager
Similar Hops : Willamette, Fuggle, Tettnanger


Hop Characteristics Unavailable

Hallertau Hops


Hallertau is a decidedly classic German hop that can be described as having a mild, noble aroma. Secondarily the hop imparts a slightly fruity and spicy character.

There are several varieties available including Hallertau Hallertauer (3 to 5% AAU) and Hallertau Hersbrucker (4 to 6% AAU). The latter is described as having a very pleasant, spicy or earthy aroma. Hallertauer Mittelfrüh (3 to 5.5%) is another clean, spicy German variant.

The USA also grows Hallertau (often just listed as ‘Hallertau’) of the same pleasant, mild yet spicy variety. Hallertau hops are great for aroma and flavor in any German style beer, and is also suitable for use in other European styles, Belgian ales and lagers.


Typical Use : Aroma
Alpha Acid : 3 to 6% AAU
Origination : Primarily Germany, also USA
Commercial Examples : Victory Hallertau Pils
Characteristics : Earthy, Spicy, Noble
Styles : Lager, Pilsner, Belgian Ale
Similar Hops : Tettnanger, Vanguard, Liberty


Hop Characteristics Unavailable

Liberty Hops


Liberty was developed in the US around 1983 as a replacement for the Hallertauer Mittelfrüh hop variety. It is low in alpha acid (2 to 5%) and is used as an aroma hop. Its best use is in German style lagers as a finishing hop to impart its mild, fine aroma.
When hops are in short supply and prices are high, Liberty is my go-to hop to replace Hallertau and Tettnanger.


Typical Use : Aroma
Alpha Acid : 2 to 5% AAU
Origination : USA
Characteristics : Mild, Fine Aroma
Styles : German Lager
Similar Hops : Hallertauer, Mt. Hood, Ultra
Commercial Examples : Pete’s Wicked Lager


Hop Characteristics Unavailable

Magnum Hops


Sometimes referred to as Yakima Magnum. Magnum is a good, clean, all purpose bittering hop. It is sometimes described as having a floral character. Alpha acids are high, usually between 12 and 14% AAU. This hop was bred in 1980 bred in 1980 at Huell, the German Hop Research Instititute. It was a cross between Galena and the German male 75/5/3.

Usage is best in ale styles like Pale Ale and IPA, or any strong ales. Other sources say they are good for Pils and Lager styles. This wide range of use is due to this hop’s clean characteristics.


Typical Use : Bittering
Alpha Acid : 12 to 14% AAU
Origination : USA and Germany
Commercial Examples : ???
Characteristics : Clean, Bitter, sometimes described as Citrus
Styles : American Pale Ale, American IPA, Strong Ale
Similar Hops : Horizon, Perle, Northern Brewer


Hop Characteristics Unavailable

Mt Hood Hops


Mt. Hood is a US-Bred hop variety resulting from a cross with Hallertau and is a relative of Ultra, Liberty, and Crystal. Like its relatives, Mt. Hood retains that spicy, earthy, somewhat fresh noble aroma. I think Mt. Hood is a bit more spicy and rich than its relative hop varieties.
Alpha acids are generally low-ish at 4% to 6% AA, making Mt. Hood a good hop variety for finishing any beer that you might use a Noble German variety – Helles, Light Lager, Bock, and Hefeweizen.


Typical Use : Aroma
Alpha Acid : 4% to 6% AAU
Origination : USA
Characteristics : Spicy, Noble
Styles : German Styles
Similar Hops : Hallertau, Tettnanger, Liberty


Hop Characteristics Unavailable

Northern Brewer Hops


Northern Brewer hops are a dual-purpose variety reminiscent of Hallertau but with a bit higher AAU. Northern Brewer can be described as Woody, Piney, Earthy, Minty, and somewhat Rustic … which is not to say coarse or undefined necessarily. Northern Brewer is the signature hop in Anchor Steam and typifies the California Common not-quite-ale/not-quite-lager style.

There are both U.S. and German varieties available.


Typical Use : Bittering/Aroma
Alpha Acid : 6 to 10% AAU
Origination : USA or Germany
Characteristics : Woody, Earthy, Piney, Rustic
Styles : California Common
Similar Hops : Chinook or Nugget


Hop Characteristics Unavailable

Perle Hops


Perle is a German hop cultivar that continues to gain popularity here in the US. Perle was initially brew from a Northern Brewer parent and certainly has Northern Brewer’s characteristic green, minty notes along with a more noble, earthy/spicy quality reminiscent of traditional Noble hops like Hallertau or Saaz.
At 7% to 9%AA Perle is best used in a flavor/aroma role at the end of a boil. However, Perle also makes a great stand-alone hop in lower alpha beers like a light lager or an American Wheat. Another use is an interesting hop in place of some traditional UK hops – a great example being Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.


Typical Use : Flavor/Aroma
Alpha Acid : 7% to 9% AAU
Origination : Germany
Characteristics : Minty, Green, Noble, Spicy
Styles : Lager, Wheat
Similar Hops : Northern Brewer, Challenger
Commercial Examples : Sierra Nevada Pale Ale


Hop Characteristics Unavailable

Progress Hops


Progress hops were originally developed by HRI-Wye in 1951 as to alternative to the Fuggle hop variety. Progress is relatively low in alpha acids (around 6%) and is primarily used as an aroma/flavor addition. The aroma and taste is slightly sweet and can be described as almost having a lime character.

Common use is for lighter beers like pale ales, lighter bitters, wheat beers. It also is a nice addition to the porter and stout styles.


Typical Use : Aroma
Alpha Acid : 6% AAU
Origination : UK
Characteristics : Sweet, Citrus, Noble
Styles : Pale Ale, Wheat, Porter, Stout
Similar Hops : Fuggle, Goldings.
Commercial Examples : Three Floyd’s Merciless Minger ESB


Hop Characteristics Unavailable

Saaz Hops


Saaz is a very traditional aroma hop that has been grown in the Czech Republic for centuries. It is classified as one of the four true Noble varieties. Alpha acids are low (around 3 to 4.5% AAU) and its primary use is for its distinct mild spice aroma and mild flavor. The saaz aroma can be described best as spicy, clean, classic and noble (a term that you just have to taste to understand, really.)
Saaz hops are the defining element for the classic Pilsner Urquell andBudìjovice Budweiser beers, and are a welcome addition to any light lager, pale ale, and even the wit style.


Typical Use : Aroma
Alpha Acid : 3 to 4.5% AAU
Origination : Czech Republic
Commercial Examples : Pilsner Urquell and Budìjovice Budweiser
Characteristics : Spicy, Noble
Styles : Pilsner is the classic style
Similar Hops : Sladek is a hybrid of saaz.


Hop Characteristics Unavailable

Simcoe Hops


Simcoe is best characterized as having a pronounced pine or woodsy aroma. It is a bittering hop ranging from 12 to 14% AAU that also imparts its characteristic aroma. The cultivar was bred by Yakima Chief in the USA. It is sometimes described as being “like cascade, but more bitter – and with pine.”


Typical Use : Bittering with Aroma
Alpha Acid : 12 to 14% AAU
Origination : USA
Commercial Examples : Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
Characteristics : Citrus with woody/pine
Styles : American Pale Ale, American IPA
Similar Hops : none – maybe Cascade + Saaz.


Hop Characteristics Unavailable

Summit Hops


Summit is a recently-released high-alpha (17 to 19% AAU) hop variety. It is a dwarf variety grown on a low trellis system. Because the low trellis is not machine harvestable, these hops are gently picked by hand in the field and are, assumably, less damaged by the harvesting process. Chumulone levels are low at 25-28% of alpha.
Summit is said to have strong orange and tangerine citrus notes in its flavor, making it ideal for brewing American style IPAs (especially IIPAs) and Pale Ales.


Typical Use : Bittering
Alpha Acid : 17 to 19% AAU
Origination : USA
Characteristics : Citrus (orange, tangerine, grapefruit)
Styles : American Pale Ale, American IPA
Similar Hops : Cascade, Amarillo


Hop Characteristics Unavailable

Noble Hops


The term Noble Hops referrs to four low-acid, high aroma varieties that orignated in central Europe. These are : Tettnanger, Hallertauer Mittelfrueh, Spalter, and Saaz. Their particular aromatic properties are the backbone for the traditional aroma and flavor of many classic styles including Pilsener, Dunkel, and Oktoberfest/Märzen.

Like wine grapes, hops take on the various characteristics imparted by their geographic growing regions. This is known in winemaking as ‘terroir’ – a term which could rightly be applied for these hop classifications. For official purposes, the term “Noble hops” can only be applied to these four varieties when they where grown in their original location. For example, Tettnanger originated a small town in southern Baden-Württemberg Germany called Tettnang.

You may hear the English Fuggle and East Kent Golding referred to as Noble Hops. They share many characteristics with the four ‘true’ Noble Hops, and are the backbone of several longstanding beer styles. However, technically speaking, they are not truly Noble Hops.

Due to the pressures of land usage in their native growing region, as well as various hopyard pests, the supply of true Noble Hops is decreasing. Growers have responded by producing hybrid varities such as the Liberty hop, which is mating of Hallertauer Mittlefruh with a disease-resistant US cultivar. Mt. Hood is another example of a higher acid hop (5 to 8%) hybrid.


Typical Use : Usually Aroma/Dry Hopping, but certainly in smaller AAA beers for all stages
Alpha Acid : about 2 to 7% AAU
Origination : Europe
Commercial Examples : Pilsner Urquell, various Hefeweizens, lots of European, classic beers.
Characteristics : Clean, Flowery, “Refined”
Styles : Pilsener, Dunkel, Oktoberfest/Märzen, Weizen, some Belgians, and many other classic European styles.

Warrior Hops


Warrior is a general-purpose bittering hop that offers a neutral, clean bittering primarily in ale styles. Alpha acids are in the typical to high bittering hop range of 15 to 17%. It has a relative low cohumulone content which contributes to a smooth, pleasing bitterness.
This is a relatively new variety that was first bred at Yakima Chief Ranches.


Typical Use : Bittering
Alpha Acid : 15 to 17% AAU
Origination : USA
Commercial Examples : Three Floyd’s Alpha King Pale Ale, Dogfish Head IPA
Characteristics : Clean bittering
Styles : American IPA
Similar Hops : Nugget, Columbus.


Hop Characteristics Unavailable

Willamette Hops


Willamette hops (pronounced wil-AM-it) where first developed around 1976 as a hybrid of the UK Fuggle hop in Oregon and continues to be very widely-grown hop in the US.
Characteristics are much like the Fuggle variety, having vegetal, woody, or earthy aroma.
Willamette is typically used as an armoa addition (4. to 6% AAU) near the end of the boil.


Typical Use : Aroma
Alpha Acid : 4 to 6% AAU
Origination : USA
Characteristics : Vegetal, Woody, Earthy
Styles : US Pale Ale, Brown Ale, UK style Ales
Similar Hops : Fuggle, Tettnang, Goldings


Hop Characteristics Unavailable

Hop Substitution Chart

Hop Variety Possible Substitutes
Admiral Target, Northdown, Challenger
Ahtanum Amarillo, Centennial, Simcoe
Amarillo Cascade, Centennial, Summit, Ahtanum
Boadicea Cacade
Brewers Gold Bullion, Chinook, Galena, Nugget
Bullion Columbus, Northern Brewer
Cascade Amarillo, Centennial, Summit
Centennial Amarillo, Cascade, Columbus, Summit
Challenger Perle, Admiral
Chinook Brewers Gold, Columbus, Galena, Nugget, Northern Brewer, Eroica
Cluster Galena, Eroica
Columbus Magnum, Chinook, Northern Brewer, Warrior, Millenium, Bullion
Crystal Mt. Hood, Liberty, Hallertauer, Tettnanger, Strisselspalt
E.K. Goldings Fuggle, Progress, First Gold
Eroica Galena
First Gold E.K. Goldings
Fuggle Willamette, Styrian Golding, Tettnanger, Newport
Galena Brewers Gold, Nugget, Cluster, Chinook, Eroica, Newport
Glacier Willamette, Fuggle, Tettnanger, Styrian Goldings
Hallertau Liberty, Tettnanger, Mt. Hood, Vangaurd, Tradition
Horizon Magnum
Liberty Hallertau, Tettnanger, Mt. Hood, Crystal, Ultra
Lublin Saaz, Sterling
Magnum Horizon, Newport
Marynka Northern Brewer
Millenium Nugget, Columbus
Mt. Hood Hallertauer, Liberty, Crystal, Strisselspalt
Northern Brewer Nugget, Chinook, Columbus, Bullion, Perle, Styrian Aurora
Newport Galena, Nugget, Fuggle, Magnum
Northdown Admiral, Challenger
Nugget Cluster, Galena, Brewers Gold, Warrior, Eroica, Target, Millenium
Perle Challenger, Northern Brewer
Progress Fuggles, E.K. Goldings
Saaz Sladek, Lublin, Sterling, Ultra, Vangaurd
Santiam Tettnanger, Spalt, Liberty, Hallertau
Simcoe Northern Brewer
Sladek Saaz, Lublin
Spalt Santiam, Liberty, Tettnanger, Hallertau
Sterling Saaz, Lublin
Strisselspalt Mt. Hood, Crystal
Styrian Aurora Northern Brewer
Styrian Goldings Fuggle, Willamette
Summit Amarillo
Target Nugget, Fuggle, WIllamette, Admiral
Tettnanger Hallertau, Liberty, Fuggle
Tradition Hallertauer
Ultra Liberty, Hallertau, Saaz
Vangaurd Saaz, Hallertauer
Warrior Nugget, Columbus
Willamette Styrian Golding, Target, Fuggle, Tettnanger, Glacier

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How To Design Your Own Beer Recipe – Step 1 – Specialty Grains

How do you make your own recipe?  

So many homebrewers get into brewing beer because this was ultimately their dream, to come up with a recipe of their own that was perfect to their palate.  I get asked a lot, and I mean, A LOT, “How do I go about making my own recipe?”.  So I’m writing up this series that will hopefully guide you along the process of making your own beer recipe.  My goal is by the end of it, you have the confidence as well as bit of direction on how to create your own recipe and if possible, to be able to look like a boss when explaining this to your friends.

I started writing this out and I had a moment I must confess, I was looking at what I was writing and thinking, “Wow, there is actually a lot that goes into it.”.  It’s bad when the  teacher is thinking that… The truth is there is and there isn’t, but at first glance you might get a little bit intimidated.

The moment where I felt this way was when I realized how much information I kind of have to throw out there.  The reason is, there are so many different styles of beers but most likely you will start to stay within a range of stuff that you normally use and things you don’t.  So when you’re reading over this just know some of these ingredients will not really apply to you.

I’ll try to explain how I use them as well.  I find personal experience sometimes helps, so I’ll add my ten cents to it along the way.  So let’s get started and take a crack at this.

The biggest key when making your own recipe is this:

You have to taste everything along the way.  I mean when it comes to grains smell them, take some chew on them.  Eat those grains like they’re going out of style (Crystal 40L taste like candy, just saying).

Same thing goes with the hops, grab a pellet and suck on that bad boy, smell it as well.  Dip your finger in the malt extract and lick it up.   This is the only way to start to associate certain grains and hops with certain flavors.  Your palate will get keyed in by doing this.  You’ll notice when you drink micro’s after a while of doing this, you can start to call out the hops/grains that they use – no joke.

Mentality you have to have when you’re making your own recipe:

If you remember that beer personality that was posted, I am a cook and chillax brewer.  This isn’t the only type that can build recipes but it really does make it easy when you look at beer as food.

In order to come up with recipes I look at it as I’m cooking up a meal.  Maybe it’s because I love to cook, but it’s the only way I know how to come up with recipes.  Just like cooking, if you were to make eggs, you most likely wouldn’t add coriander to it.  Why? You know that with eggs there are things you can add to them and things you can’t.  Salt, pepper, Tabasco sauce, peppers, mushrooms, onions, bacon, sausage, cheese and so many more are typically what goes well with eggs.  Top choices are not coriander, paradise seed, whip cream, steak sauce, mayo, etc.  But see, you know that because you’ve made eggs a thousand times in your life.

Where I’m going with this is, you need to know what taste like what when your making a beer.  Just like cooking you’ll start to learn that certain grains go well with other grains.  Certain hops go well with certain hops.  Eventually it just turns into patterns in a weird way.  I’ll make sure to have a post in this series about some patterns.

Another point to guide you along the way:

When I make beer recipe, I think what I want as the focal point of the beer to be.  You’ll see me say focal point a lot in this series, I don’t know any other word to describe it.  What I mean by, “Focal point” is, when I open up the beer what’s the first thing I want to notice, aroma, hops, malts?  When someone describes your beer what is the word they will use?  Citrusy, light, roasty?

Once you figure out the focal point, then you start to eliminate things pretty fast.  If you want a big hoppy beer, you can start to really eliminate a lot of grains.  You honestly won’t be able to taste a lot past a 90 min boil of Summit at 16.1%.

Same goes for if you want a Smokey aroma/flavor, you can really elminate a lot of hops.  We’ll take the hop part when it comes and just worry about the grains today though.

How much specialty grains should I use?

People that are just starting off with making their own recipes usually fall under a major pit fall.  Too many grains, or too many different types of grains.  A rule of thumb when starting off with building your recipe is, choose 3 grains for specialty grains and will keep it under 2 lbs for total weight.

When you add more you might start getting to many flavors that will run together and when it’s over 2 lbs you will come into problems with over powering flavors (very general statement, but one to consider).

Description of grains?

So to start with, to make life easy let’s look at different grains and what they taste like.  Brew your own magazine has a pretty good chart on their website.  I’ll be using this as a reference and adding a bit to their descriptions along the way.

Grain Description

Black Patent Malt:

500L. This gives color as well as a strong sharp flavor to the beer.  A little goes a long way with this malt.  Normally used for porters, stouts, maybe in milds and browns. You’ll see this grain used in conjunction with chocolate malt as well as roasted barley a lot in American stouts.

Chocolate Malt:

350L. By the name it gives a chocolate flavor to the beer.  Most people think that chocolate stouts have something special in them, they might but usually the focal point is just chocolate malt.

Crystal Malt:

20L-120L.  Crystal malt is used to change the color of the beer. It also has a caramel flavor to it.  On the lower side of the numbers it is sweet and caramel like flavor.   As you move towards 120L it gives a reddish color to the beer and almost taste like raisins.  You can use this malt with many styles of beer.  On the higher end (80L-120L) you might see it used in porters, and stouts.


1.5L .  Doesn’t do anything to the color, gives body and helps with head retention.  A lot of brewers will add this into their recipe as standard protocol.  Can’t really taste it just helps out with the head and body.

Munich Malt:

10L.  This is sweet, has a toasty flavor.  Very malty and has a bready type of flavor to it in my opinion.  You can use this with German style’s.  I’ve been putting just a little bit of this malt in with my Pale Ales and IPA’s to give more of back bone to the brew, especially when you are adding a lot of hops.

Victory Malt:

25L.  Gives a nutty type of flavor, has a biscuit flavor as well.  Gives golden color to the beer.  Great with milds and browns.  You can use this as a substitute for biscuit malt.  Really does give a nice body to the beer though.

Vienna Malt:

3.5L This is very much like Munich malt.  Lighter in color, but very close in the malty flavor.  This is one of those grains I feel is really under rated.

Wheat Malt:

2L.  Depending on how you use it, it will have different flavors.  It will give a creamy head for sure. If you’re doing extract with specialty grains you’re better off just using the flakes.

Aromatic Malt:

20L.  Much like the name, it gives a big malt aroma to the beer.  Used in a lot of Belgium brews.

Biscuit Malt:

23L.  (One of my favorite malts fyi.)  It has a biscuit flavor to the beer.  It will add to body and make a lot of beers smoother.  Any English style you can add this too.  It will help the beer taste like M.O if you are doing specialty grains with extract.  You could use this to Pale’s or IPA’s in order to give that back bone that they might need.

Caramunich I, II, III:

56L & +.  Very much like crystal malts in the fact that they have a sweet flavor.  They will give the beer a copper color.  Used a lot in German beers.  Cara is just short for Caramel.  So it’s a sweeter style of Munich in this case.  It’s used in German brews


21L.  Again it’s a lighter version of the caramunich in every aspect.

De Bittered Black Malt:

500L.  It’s black in color but doesn’t give harsh flavors.  If you don’t like the flavor of black patent but need the color, this is the beer you need. Good for some porters but really makes a case to use it in Black IPA’s or whatever people are calling them these days.

Special B:

220L.  This taste kind of like sweet raisins.  Give a very potent caramel aroma and flavor to the beer.  It’s used for a lot of darker Belgian beers.  If you are using Crystal 120L most likely you could use this one somewhere in your recipe.

Acidulated Malt:

1.7L.  This gives beer a tang to it.  Smells exactly like salt and vinegar chips in my opinion.  Dry Irish stouts have this one it sometimes, wit’s, Saisons.  In my opinion, a little goes a long way with this one.


23L.  Adds aroma and color to the beer.  Gives the beer an amber look.


8L.  Light colored and gives body to the beer.  Used in German brews.

Melanoidin malt

23L.   This is like Munich malt on crack.  Super malty and no need to mash.


2.8L .  Spicy in flavor as well as dry.  Rye-Pa’s are common but if you are doing extract with specialty grains I would stick with the flaked.

Smoked Malt

2L. Smells like smoke and taste like smoke.  Great for porters, Scottish brews.  In my mind you can use this one in colder months.  My personal opinion.  Reminds me of a warming feeling sitting next to a fire.

Flaked Barley

1.5L.  Helps with head retention, has a smooth finish to the beer.

Flaked Maize

1L.  Used for color, it lightens the body as well.

Flaked Oats

1L Adds body and creamy head. Oatmeal stouts naturally.

Flaked Rye

2L  Has a dry crisp flavor.

Flaked Wheat

2L.  Gives a hazy color and a slight wheat flavor to it.

Honey Malt

25L. Taste like honey nut.  Kind of reminds me of honey nut cheerios in a weird way.  I use this one in 60%-70% of my summer beers.  It’s about the only time I can figure a time to use it.  Really good with lighter beers where this is the focal point.  I’ve found that I need a fair amount to make it so I can taste it though.

Conclusion & What To Consider

And those are the main ones that I can think of.   Next we’ll get into the hops.  Until then starting eating your grains!

Also if you have any that you think I forgot and most importantly if you taste something different with the grains or would like to elaborate please leave in the space below.  I know and understand everyone’s palate is a bit different (that’s why some people think diet coke taste sweet and some think its tart), so the more voices the better.


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