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Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Recipator, from

Before I get into the review itself, I have to apologize. I had meant to have this up some time ago, but I had some -uh- stuff go on in my life. An old friend of mine passed away recently, and since we were nearly the same age, it sort of hit me harder than I thought it would. But, here it is. I should get back on track.

Today, I'll take a look at The Beer Recipator, an online recipe calculator hosted by, The Homebrew Digest. The Digest has been around longer than some of you have. Here's the beginning of their official history:

The Digest has existed in various forms since before 1988. The most successful incarnation of the Digest came at the hands of Rob Gardner, the original Digest Janitor (though, I must say, its current instantiation may be more successful yet). The least successful incarnation occurred in 1996, and very nearly destroyed the Home Brew Digest.

When you click on the Recipator link, you're brought to a page with 7 different choices. We'll only look at the first, the spreadsheet. But, feel free to explore the others.

On the spreadsheet page, the first thing apparent to me is that this is a bit more, involved. There are more places where you can make choices, and there are more places where you must make choices.

On the initial page, you choose the beer style and whether it's extract, partial mash, or all-grain. Then you choose your measurement units. Finally, you click on everything you're using in your recipe. If you're not sure, or you forget something, don't worry. You can add or change things later.

Clicking on continue brings you to the main recipe page. Fill in the amounts of all your ingredients, and press one of the “calculate” buttons. The online spreadsheet will then figure out your beer, and let you know at the top of the page if you hit the right parameters for the style.

You can view, and save, a report of what was found. My porter recipe appears below.

The Beer Recipator
The BreweryHomeSpreadsheetRecipesDiscussion


Beer:PorterStyle:Robust Porter
Type:Partial mashSize:4 gallons
95 HCU (~34 SRM)
Bitterness:27 IBU
Alcohol:5.9% v/v (4.7% w/w)
Grain:2 lb. American 2-row
8 oz. American crystal 120L
8 oz. American chocolate
Mash:75% efficiency
Boil:minutesSG 1.0455 gallons
3 lb. 5 oz. Dark malt extract
8 oz. Brown sugar
Hops:1 oz. Cascade (6% AA, 60 min.)
1 oz. Willamette (aroma)

This web page generated by The Beer Recipator.

With any of these programs, there are things which only come with experience. The different flavor characteristics of your ingredients cannot be quantified. You might get the same strength and color from brown malt, smoked malt, or crystal malt, but the contributions to the flavor of the final beer are completely different. Only your own taste buds can tell you what to use.

This spreadsheet may be more than some people want, or less than others. But, if you're out at a coffeeshop, with a tablet and a wifi connection, you can work up a recipe very quickly. It can be a valuable resource to use along with your regular recipe program.