Brew Dudes

Homebrewing blog and resource

Working With Percentages – Homebrew Beer Recipes

Homebrewing is a great community and one way we share ideas is through recipes. For this post, we thought it would be good to discuss expressing recipes in a way that helps another brewer translate your formulation as closely as possible to what you brewed on your system. Let’s learn about how to present homebrew beer recipe grain bill amounts as percentages of the entire bill rather than measured weights, along with what may be some hang ups brewers have with recipe creation software.

How To Work With Percentages To Define Your Recipe’s Grain Bill

When I started out as a homebrewer, I was content to find recipes that were formulated for 5 gallon batches with some understanding of mashing efficiency being a factor. I never paid it too much attention since I was able to hit original gravity numbers as presented in the recipe. As time has gone on, that way of creating and following recipes doesn’t seem like the best way. Maybe the hobby has gotten more sophisticated, or maybe I have, but either way, I’d like to use this method of recipe formulation more often.
One reason for expressing grain bills in recipe as percentages is the ability to scale the batch size to whatever volume you are looking to brew. It comes in handy with scaling down craft beer recipes to your own homebrew amounts.

To start formulating your recipes, you need to know your mash efficiency. If you don’t know that, start with 75% efficiency as Mike uses in the video. You can use this percentage to plug into homebrewing software to calculate the amount of grains you need to use to get to the starting gravity of the beer you are trying to brew. If you have done some research on styles, you know that certain beers should have starting gravities in a certain range. With your mash efficiency, you can calculate the amount of grain you need to hit your starting gravity. With the amount of grain, you can use that to calculate the percentages of different types of grains to brew your beer.

Know The Math – Brew Better

With these percentages, you can then multiply these numbers to figure out how much (in weight) the grains you
need. In general, it’s good to know how to calculate these numbers on paper. Don’t get too dependent on brewing software. Remember that your reality may not match up with what the software is doing. Make sure you can work the number in case you need to tweak the recipe.

Brew On!

If you want, you can learn more about working with PPG and Specific Gravity here.

Brew Dudes Homebrew Swap – Exchange #25

Hey – we got some beer mail filled with homebrewed beer. We get homebrew from time to time, been doing this for a while since this is our homebrew exchange number 25! Let’s see what we have on the menu for this go around.

Dessert Porter Tasting Notes

Brian from Ohio sent us this beer and he didn’t give us too much information about the beer on purpose. He wanted us to evaluate from what we could taste and smell.

The name of the beer was MVP Baltic Porter. The MVP stands for Maple, Vanilla, and Peanut Butter.
8.8% ABV
Bottled on April 16, 2016
33.5 IBUs

Although the beer was brewed and bottled two years ago, the fragrance was strong when we opened it up. The aroma was filled with all kinds of sweet things. There was a big note of peanut butter banana sandwiches on the top of the beer with some notes of maple in there.

In the flavor, each of the named components were there. We could taste the maple, vanilla, and peanut butter in that order. Funny, the beer was not oily so we think Brian used peanut butter powder in his beer.

I found there was a little hotness from the alcohol in the beer but drinkable for 8%.

The mouthfeel was medium and delivered a sweet dessert punch. The only real issue we had with this beer was that it beer lacked any roastiness from the malts.

Tips for Next Time

We felt like this beer was a tremendous start to what could be an extraordinary beer. From what we could tell, he got all of his flavor components to present themselves. Now, Brian needs to figure out how to bring some malt flavors to the beer. It could be an addition of some brown malt or maybe a small amount of black patent malt. Some of the sweetness from the maple syrup could be replaced by some lower colored caramel malts.

Overall, a beer that left a strong impression and we hope he keeps working on it.


Reiterated Mash Experiment – Russian Imperial Stout

Last year, I tried to make a couple of high gravity beers and I wasn’t able to hit my targeted original gravity. You can see some of trials in these previous posts. In an attempt to fix this issue, we tried a reiterated mash experiment with a Russian Imperial Stout recipe. If you have the time and small mash tun and want to try a new mashing technique, watch this video and see how it is done.

Russian Imperial Stout Recipe With Reiterated Mash

Boil Size: 7.5 US Gallons
Batch Size 5.5 US Gallons


19 pounds of Floor Malted Maris Otter Malt
1.5 pounds of Roasted Barley
1 pound of Simpson Double Roasted Crystal (DRC) Malt
1 pound Pale Chocolate Malt
.5 pound of 60° L Crystal Malt


1 ounce of Horizon hops – 10.3% AA – 60 minutes to go in the boil
2 ounces of East Kent Goldings hops – 5.3% AA – 15 minutes to go in the boil
2 ounces of East Kent Goldings hops – 5.3% AA – 15 minutes to go in the boil


2 packets of White Labs WLP001
1 packet of Safale US-05

Special ingredient: 16 ounces of Dave’s Coffee Syrup – added with 15 minutes left in the boil


Divide the grain bill into 2 equal parts and mash one part for 1 hour with 4 gallons of water at 152° F. Collect 4 gallons of wort. Replace spent grains with second part of grain bill and mash with the wort you made with the first part of the grain bill for 1 hour at 152° F (heat the wort appropriately to hit your mash temperature).

Collect as much wort as possible from the second mash and then sparge to get to your full boil volume.

Boil for 75 minutes to ensure you hit your gravity.

Original gravity was 1.092. Looking to get a final gravity of 1.014 for a calculated ABV of a little over 10%.

Thoughts on the Experiment

How we conducted the reiterated mash got me to a place where I could hit my targeted original gravity without having to boil most of the volume away. It took a long time to do and I could still do it differently. I think if I mashed two separate times (without mashing with the wort) and just collect 3.5 gallons of each wort, I would be in a better place than what I got out of this process. The issue is in the sparging. The first runnings of the wort were very high in gravity. The first running of the reiterated mash was OFF THE CHARTS but the gravity you get from the sparge is just that much lower so the gravity of your full boil suffers.

We have a good feeling about this beer. We’ll follow up with a tasting video when it’s ready.


Comparing Homebrewing Mash Tuns – Plastic Vs. Stainless

I was out of town so Mike took on the challenge of doing a solo post. We are a homebrewing blog so it makes sense every once in a while to profile the equipment we use. When you go from brewing extract kits to all grain recipes, you need a mash tun.

Mike has two of them. One is an old stainless steel keg that he converted into a tun that connects to a pump and recirculates the mash over an open flame. The other one is more common plastic water cooler that has some extra parts connected to it. In this video, he runs down all the details of each of these mash tuns and then discusses the pros and cons of each set up. Fire up that video to see more!

Two Mash Tun Man

Mike started mashing in a square cooler with a braided fitting to separate the wort from the grain. I believe he still has that cooler somewhere, but he has since ditched it for these two mash tuns that he presents in the video.

The first one is an old keg that he cut the top off of so that he could easily add wort to it. With a few weldless fittings and silicone tubing, he built a way to recirculate wort with a pump. This set up is to help maintain a specific mash temperature throughout the process.

He had some trouble with that mash tun so he went to the store and bought a tall orange Igloo water cooler that he fitted with a false bottom and a valve to let the sweet wort out of the bottom of the tun. He has been using this tun more lately and has been happy with the results.

Pros and Cons of Each Mash Tun

Stainless Steel Mash Tun Pros:

All these pros come with having a direct fire/pump system along with the tun.

  • You can always hit your mash temperature
  • You can step mash
  • Mashing out is easy
  • Wort gets to be super clear

Stainless Steel Mash Tun Cons:

  • Hard to keep the flame going on a windy day
  • Needs a lot of attention during mash
  • Hard to keep temperature on small batches

Plastic Mash Tun Pros:

  • No maintenance mash
  • No worries of going longer than 60 minutes

Plastic Mash Tun Cons:

  • Cloudy wort
  • Temperature for mash may not be locked in

Let us know how you mash – brew on!

Brew Dudes Homebrew Swap – Exchange #24

The most wonderful homebrewing swap club on the internet has another entry, number 24. This time, we get a Red Ale from Kyle from Florida. He brewed a small batch of beer and sent us a bottle to try it out. Take a look below to learn more about how he brewed it and what we thought of it.

Red Ale Homebrew Recipe

Here’s a write up of what he sent us:

2.5 gallon batch

6.7% ABV
16 °SRM
55 IBUs

Original Gravity: 1.063
Final Gravity: 1.012

Chloride: ~ 150 ppm
Sulfate: ~ 70 ppm

Grain Bill (Mashed at 155°F for 60 minutes):

4.5 pounds 2-Row Malt (70%)
0.5 pounds Dark Munich Malt (8%)
0.5 pounds Victory Malt (8%)
0.5 pounds Crystal Malt 80 °L (8%)
0.25 pounds Biscuit Malt (4%)
0.12 pounds Special B

Hops (60 minute boil):

.25 ounces Falconer’s Flight at 60 minutes to go in the boil
.5 ounces Falconer’s Flight at 10 minutes to go in the boil
.5 ounces Amarillo at 10 minutes to go in the boil
.5 ounces Amarillo at 5 minutes to go in the boil
.25 ounces Falconer’s Flight at 5 minutes to go in the boil

Yeast: Omega Yeast Labs HotHead™ Ale OYL-057
80% Attentuation
Bottle conditioned

In case you think I’m lying, here’s what he sent:
Kyle From Florida Red Ale Details

Red Ale Tasting Notes

Aroma: A nice blast of malt on the nose. Mike got some wet tobacco with a little leather and sherry notes. Maybe a little fruit too based on the hop selections.
Appearance: The beer was a little hazy but the color was like a nice cup of tea; a reddish amber ale. We think it was a good red ale color especially if it cleared up with some more time sitting still.
Taste: There’s a nice malt punch in the taste. Mike was happy with the way it “drank”. There were some hop notes but the malt was overtaking the flavor profile.
Mouthfeel: It was medium to medium full.
Overall Impression: A good American red ale. Mike thought it was really good. He thoughts were to up the 60 minute hop addition.

Kyle – good brew – try it again either flipping the brewing salts ratio or use East Kent Goldings hops and send us another bottle.


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