Looking for Some New Home-Brew Recipes?
When home-brewing was legalized in 1978, brewers had access to little more than a dusty can of pre-hopped malt extract with a package of dry bread yeast taped to the top. The results were often as uninspiring as they were predictable. Things have changed though. Even modest home-brew shops typically carry a wide variety of fresh malts and hops from around the world with dozens of different pure yeast cultures optimized for every imaginable style. While the expanded options for home-brew recipes are liberating, the selection can also be overwhelming.
To help make sense of the bewildering array of options, we assembled 3 ridiculously simple home-brew recipes to help cut through the clutter. We also include suggestions for how you can riff on each to make it your own making your buddies green with envy. In addition, click here and here to read our other articles on how to bottle beer at home and our 5 best growlers for the home brewer.
SMASH Pale Ale
The simplest recipe concept that we’ve ever come across is the SMASH Ale. SMASH is an acronym for Single Malt And Single Hop. By using just one malt and one hop, you’ll be able to zero in on the exact flavor contribution provided by each ingredient. We recommend starting with English Maris Otter malt and a classic American hop for a bready body and citrus zing, but the beauty here is how easy it is to experiment and compare ingredients.
- Batch Size: 5 Gallons
- Boil Size: 6 Gallons (After losses for sediment and evaporation, you’ll get 5 gallons of fermented beer)
- OG: 1.053
- FG: 1.013
- IBU: 32
- Alcohol: 5.2%
- 8 lbs Maris Otter Liquid Malt Extract
- 1 oz Cascade pellets (6.3% AA) boiled for 60 minutes
- 5 oz Cascade pellets (6.3% AA) boiled for 10 minutes
- 5 oz Cascade pellets (6.3% AA) boiled for 1 minute
- Wyeast 1056 American Ale Yeast or White Labs WLP 001 California Ale Yeast
Heat six gallons of water, and as it approaches the boil, add the malt extract. Once boiling add your first hop charge. After 50 minutes add your second hop charge and after 9 more minutes add your third hop charge, boiling for one more minute. Chill to 68º F and pitch your yeast. Allow a week to ten days for fermentation. Check your final gravity. If it has reached 1.013 (or is at least within a few points) proceed to bottling or kegging your beer.
Use 12 lbs of Munich malt in place of the extract and mash at 150F.
Experiment by swapping out any one ingredient at a time. For example, make one batch with American Cascade hops and another with English Kent Golding and you’ll get a great example of how the aggressive grapefruit and pine notes of the Cascade hop differ from the mellower floral, herbal aromas of the Kent Golding. Or keep the malt and the hops constant to see what kind of flavors an English Yeast brings to the party. There really are no limits here.
The American IPA is a go big or go home beer style. You want citrusy, piney hop flavor and lots of it. First you need to use generous doses of aggressive hops that have a great flavor affinity for one another. Second you need to make the beer strong enough to stand up to the hops without being too thick or sweet.
One of the most famous and effective hop combinations among double IPAs is shared by the C Hops — American varieties starting with the letter C. It’s weird, but it works. The classic C hops are Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, Citra, and Columbus. Each offers varying levels of bitterness, citrus, and pine flavors. Use them all together with big charges at the end of the boil and in dry-hopping to maximize the aroma and flavor.
To keep the malt sweetness in check, use a modest dose of corn sugar in the boil. The sugar will ferment out completely, leaving the body of the beer drier, relative to its strength.
- Batch Size: 5 Gallons
- Boil Size: 6 Gallons
- OG: 1.074
- FG: 1.019
- IBU: 100
- Alcohol: 7.3%
Malt Extract & Sugar
- .10 lbs Light Liquid Malt Extract
- .75 lbs Dextrose (Corn Sugar)
- .5 lb Crystal 45 Malt
- .5 Carapils Malt
- 2 oz Columbus (15% AA) boiled for 60 minutes
- 1 oz Columbus (15% AA) boiled for 15 minutes
- 1 oz Chinook (12% AA) boiled for 15 minutes
- 2 oz Citra (13.7% AA) boiled for 0 minutes (ie: throw them in, and turn off the flame)
- 1 oz Columbus (15% AA) boiled for 0 minutes
- 1 oz Cascade (7% AA) boiled for 0 minutes
- 1 oz Centennial (10.5% AA) boiled for 0 minutes
- 2 oz Citra dry hopped for 3 days (1st charge)
- 1 oz Chinook dry hopped for 3 days (1st charge)
- 1 oz Cascade dry hopped for 3 days (2nd charge)
- 1 oz Centennial dry hopped for 3 days (2nd charge)
- 1 oz Columbus dry hopped for 3 days (2nd charge)
- Wyeast 1056 American Ale or White Labs WLP 001 California Yeast
Steep the Crystal 45 and Carapils malt in 150F water for 30 minutes. Remove the grain and bring to a boil. Add the malt extract, dextrose, and 2 oz Columbus hops. After 45 minutes add another 1 oz of Columbus Hops and continue boiling. At the end of the boil, add 2 oz of Citra, 1 oz of Columbus, 1 oz of Cascade, and 1oz of Centennial, then turn off the flame. Chill and ferment at 68F. Allow a week to ten days for fermentation. Once fermentation is complete add the first charge of dry hops using a sanitized nylon sack. Remove the first charge after three days and add the second charge for another three days, again using a sanitized nylon sack. Remove the second charge, check your final gravity and rack the finished beer to bottles or a keg.
Substitute 15 lbs of two row pale malt for the extract malt and mash with the other grains for 60 minutes at 149F.
Another set of hops with a great flavor affinity is Warrior, Simcoe and Amarillo. Use the Warrior for the early bittering charges and similar amounts of Simcoe and Amarillo for the late additions and dry hops for a deeply piney and tropical take on the IPA.
With big clove, bubblegum, and banana flavors, German Hefeweizens are fantastic session beers and ridiculously easy to brew. The recipe is simple: Wheat malt extract comes blended as half wheat and half barley, and that’s exactly the mix we need. A touch of hops at the beginning of the boil will keep it from being too sweet. Use a German Hefeweizen yeast, and let it rip through fermentation.
- Batch Size: 5 Gallons
- Boil Size: 6 Gallons
- OG 1.050
- FG 1.012
- IBU: 15
- Alcohol 5%
- 5 lbs Wheat Liquid Malt Extract (a 50/50 or 60/40 wheat and barley blend will work)
- 1 oz Hallertau Hops (4% AA)
- White Labs WLP 300 Hefeweizen Ale or Wyeast 3068 Weihenstephan Weizen
Add the wheat liquid malt extract and bring to a boil. Once you reach a boil, add hops and continue to boil for 60 minutes. Chill to 65º F, pitch yeast and ferment. Allow a week ten days for fermentation. Take a gravity reading and if the final gravity is 1.012 rack (or at least within a few points), proceed to bottling or kegging.
Mash 5.5 lbs of Wheat Malt and 5.5 lbs of German Pilsner Malt together with a half-pound of rice hulls to keep the mash from getting gummed up. Mash at 155º F for 60 minutes.
Use an American ale yeast and an ounce or two of American hops late in the boil to convert this into an American Wheat beer.
Now that your ready to bottle, check out our 11 Tips on How to Bottle Beer at Home