Scaling A Recipe In Beersmith

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Hop extract brewer
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Brewing Bob has been brewing for about a year now and is starting to get confident in his recipe formulation. One of his more experienced brewer friends offers him one of his homebrews at a brew club meeting. Brewing Bob likes the caramel flavor that he can taste in the brew. He asks his friend how he gets that flavor in his beer. His friend replies I just chuck in about a kilo of crystal malt.

It is decided. Brewing Bob is going to use a kilo of crystal in his next batch.

Upon drinking his latest batch of 1 kilo crystal, Brewing Bob finds that the crystal malt is very much overdone, but how did his friend then use 1 kilo of crystal malt and not having a cloyingly sweet brew?
The simple answer is, Brewing Bobs friend only used 5% crystal for his system, however the same amount of crystal in Brewing Bobs system would be closer to 20%. Brewing Bobs friend (now ex-friend) forgot to mention that his batch size is roughly 4-5 times larger than his. Brewing Bob is confused now about the amounts of grams of grains that brewers are telling him. Are they the right amount for his brewing system?

Does this story seem at all familiar to you? Have you ever been told a recipe from a friend rattling off 100 grams this, 300 grams that and thought Would 100 grams be the same in my system? What is his exact batch size? Does he usually hit his batch size? What is his efficiency? Does he measure his efficiency correctly? I wonder in what relation that x grams addition of y malt is in relation to the entire brew?. Well, to be honest, I feel this way everytime I open up the What Are You Brewing thread. I often see recipes like the following:

8kg pilsner
1kg wheat
800g caraplis
200g melanoiden

hallertauer to 25ibu

From a first glance, I have only a vague idea (from quickly adding up all the ingredients and dividing an individual grains weight by the total) of what percentage the melanoiden is in this recipe this one is actually easy, as everything adds up to 10kg. However I also have no idea what batch size or what the target OG is. From this I have to make a lot of assumptions if I am to understand this recipe. The Hallertauer I assume is at 60 mins, and an amount is used to get to 25 ibus. This is well given information as my hallertauer could be a different year to what this brewer has used, so I can scale it to suit.
However, from time to time (more often than I would like) I find recipes that have me asking too many questions. For instance:

4000 BB Galaxy
225 Carapils
500 Polenta

67 degrees 90 mins

30 Green Bullet flowers 60 mins
20 Motueka flowers 20 mins

20 Motueka hop tea sometime in cold conditioning

500 dex

With this recipe, I have no idea of OG, IBU or volume etc etc. What is 500 grams of dextrose for one brewer can be completely different for another brewer. Were I to make this beer on my system I cannot be sure if I am brewing the same beer as the recipe. I could message the brewer and they would give me all the information necessary for this. But why give information out in the first place that is not going to benefit any brewer that isnt brewing on your system, or a brewer that doesnt know your targets etc? For someone to brew your recipe, or to truly understand you recipe, a lot more information is needed. One could think of this as winning the lottery, they call you for your bank details and you only give them the account number and account name. The essentials (being the BSB) are excluded. What chance do you give them putting your millions into your account? About the same chance a brewer has at brewing a recipe with half the information.

But how can a brewer convey a recipe or an addition of hops or grain to a brewer when there are so many variables going on. With variables such as efficiency, volume, target OG, FG, hop alpha acid etc it would seem impossible to the average brewer. However, there is a way, in which brewers can convey their recipes without having to deal with all the variables.

Its called ratios and percentages.

The main point in my opinion, regardless of the specific order that you do things (because there is many ways to skin a cat) is to look at, and think of, recipes in terms, not of weight of ingredients, but rather in terms of grist composition (i.e. percentages). By doing so, all the variables of equipment are removed, and a recipe becomes kind of like a language, with interpretation removed
Im not sure if everyone knows how to scale a recipe in Beer Smith, so I thought I would show the way I have done it. Its very easy to do when trying to get the quantities right with certain parameters that need to be made. For example this is the recipe for the Stammtisch Challange #4, an Altbier. Link

55% Munich I
40% Pilsner
3% Melanoidin
2% Carafa Special II
Spalt at 60 mins to 50 IBU
OG 1.053

1) Enter all percentages of ingredients into Beersmith as kg, so the grain bill will equal 100kg. Make sure your efficiency is correct for your equipment and that your batch size is set, for the example we will use 80%.

Amount Item Type % or IBU
55.00 kg Munich I (Weyermann) (14.0 EBC) Grain 55.00 %
40.00 kg Pilsner (Weyermann) (3.3 EBC) Grain 40.00 %
3.00 kg Melanoiden Malt (39.4 EBC) Grain 3.00 %
2.00 kg Carafa Special II (Weyermann) (817.6 EBC) Grain 2.00 %

You will notice straight away that your beer is black and that your gravity is sky high.

2) Once the grain percentages are correct, use the gravity button to then bring back the grain to the correct weights to give you your target OG (we are targeting 1.053).

5.16 kg Munich I (Weyermann) (14.0 EBC) Grain 55.00 %
3.75 kg Pilsner (Weyermann) (3.3 EBC) Grain 40.00 %
0.28 kg Melanoiden Malt (39.4 EBC) Grain 3.00 %
0.19 kg Carafa Special II (Weyermann) (817.6 EBC) Grain 2.00 %

3) You can now enter the 60 minute addition of Spalt. It doesnt matter what amount you add, it only matters that you add the hops at 60 mins. Beersmith defaults to 28.3 Grams. Using the IBU button, the Bitterness can be set to 50 IBU which then calculates how much of the Spalt hops at 60 mins we need. At 3.8% AA we need 243.28 grams.

When calculating hops when there are more than one hop addition (i.e. early and late additions), late hops (flavour and aroma) should also be considered in terms of ratio, i.e. weight per volume. Some brewers calculate their late additions by its contribution to bitterness. To me, this is a fundamental error: the bitterness extraction of the late hops should be ignored (other than being taken into account as contributing to the overall bitterness), or at the very least, considered to be of secondary importance, relative to the flavour/aroma contribution they give.

My strategy for entering the hopping: enter everything else first. Set the efficiency; set the volume; set the brewhouse losses; get the grains in, in the correct percentages; adjust to the correct gravities. All of the above effects hopping utilisation.

Once the recipe is complete, then do the hops. Enter the aroma and flavour hops first, based on a g/L (post boil) amount. Then add the bittering addition, adjusting the weight required to give the overall IBU required.
Any shift or scaling of bitterness should be done soley with the bittering addition. Using this method, from year to year one will still be able to produce the same beer, have the same level of hop aroma and flavour even with variances in the crops alpha acid

So, I might say in conversation to another brewer that my case swap beer was...

"1041, 40-20-20-15-5 (percent) JW TA,TF GP, Munich 1, Wheat, carared, with bramling cross at 1/2 g/L for 15, and BC to bitter to 27IBU. 60 @62c, [email protected], 76c mash out, 78c sparge. Coopers yeast @17c."

From the above, your volume is irrelevant, your efficiency is irrelevant, boil time is irrelevant, your losses are irrelevant. All that matters is the targets.

Contributers: Phillip, Boston and Butters


Not entitled to an opinion
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Excellent post, Phillip (and Boston and some dude).


I've been drawing up recipes based on percentages for some of my most recent brews - never thought of starting the process out as 100kg and scaling backwards. Much more elegant than the fiddling around I was doing to get my targets. Thanks.


firmitas, utilitas, venustas
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Yep excellent post Phillip... Good to see I got quoted too!
I always use the scale function for recipe formulation... I honestly think it's the best thing about beersmith. And most times I express my recipes including batch og, ibu, ebc... Looks like I got called out this one time!! Haha


Bro Member
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Nice one! never thought of doing it like that. Mainly because of my inexperience with beersmith. I used to just add and take away untill it was right haha.


Halfluck Brewing
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Quality post Phillip.

I always wondered why Beersmith doesn't just support adding ingredients by percentage?
It's soo much quicker/easier to formulate recipes that way!

Cheers Rob.


tum te tum
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An important brewing ah ha moment for me was watching /// record hop additions in gm/l. The conversation went a bit like this

"Why do you do that?"

"Cause you can replicate it!"




Well-Known Member
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Good post guys!

I found that adding grain as % and hops in g/L when wanted is definitively something that could be improved in beersmith....