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This page will hopefully help people to design their own beer, wine & cider recipes, most of the mathematics will be performed by the free “YoBrew Beer & Wine Calculators” which can be downloaded via this link Free Beer & Wine Calculators.


I submitted a draft copy of this article to a YoBrew co-respondent for comments as he is a beginner to the hobby. Mr. Eatporridgeoats said his main concern was finding “some of the technical jargon quite hard to grasp”. Consequently I’ve added a little glossary at the end of this article and some of the basics of spreadsheets (i. e. Excel, Ashampoo & Open Office etc.).


NOTE:- These are just examples of recipe design, DO NOT assume that they will give drinkable results!



Beer Recipe Design                  Wine Recipe Design                 Cider Recipe Design                 Glossary                       Spreadsheet Notes





The beer calculator is the worst to use as it can entail quite a lot of messing around to get the required result.



            Calculators cannot tell you if the final product is good, bad or indifferent, it can only give approximate parameters.

            It is worthwhile making small quantities of a trial beer as 5 or 6 litres of rubbish are easier to shift than 23!

            In the “Screen shots” some cells may be “hidden” for clarity.

            Versions 1.2 of the “Beer Calc.” & “Extract Calc.” are used.


I suppose the first step in any recipe design is to choose a style, there is a “BJCP Beer Styles” (Beer Judge Certification Program - American) page in the Yobrew calculator which defines all beer styles. I would hate to think how many traditional British beers fail to fit into their allocated category but at least a guideline is available. For this example I decided on:-
















B.  Special/Best/Premium Bitter










From my friendly neighbourhood home brew shop I buy 1.8Kg light liquid malt extract, 500g crushed crystal malt (I have assumed this to be “medium”), 50g of (typical British) Goldings hops and a packet of Ale yeast. The malts & hop quantities are entered in the Extract Calc. (the beer calc may also be used). Note that cell C51 (Priming sugar – used at the bottling stage) is set at 5g per litre, a good starting point, its effect can be seen in I39 to I44, the “Alcohol” cell I45 includes the primer. Ensure that all the other ingredient cells are empty.


Ignoring the hop/bitterness figures for now, the results (right) are nothing like the BJCP figures. Starting with the O. G. (Original Gravity), this can be increased by increasing the malts, adding sugar or decreasing our volume. Cell I3 shews that we are initially making 23l or about 5 UK galls, if we reduce this to 18 litres then our gravity will increase to about by about 8, possibly acceptable although still a little on the low side. As the “Colour” (cell I46) is rather high we could reduce the Crystal malt to say “400”g, as this will also reduce our alcohol content we could try “500” g “Cane sugar” in cell C45.


The figures are improved but, with a little more juggling we could end up with “300”g “Crystal (medium)” in cell C39 & “250”g “Cane sugar” in C45. If we decide that this is near enough for us then we can concentrate on the “Bitterness” in cells I48 & I49. If sugars (C45 to C48) are included in the hop boil they will reduce the “Bitterness” (cells K37 & I49) so a figure is given is the sugars are added after the boil (H37 & I48).


The “% Utilization” cell G35 is over 25%, this is by no means critical but reducing this to around 20% by reducing to “Boil Vol (l)” to 10 litres may make things a bit more practical.

(The “2nd hop” & “3rd hop” columns are for “late hopping”.)

The beer’s bitterness is now about 30 EBU, personally we may prefer a lower hopping rate, reducing G16 (by trial & error) to “40”g now gives us about 24 EBU. We can continue fine-tuning our recipe as we require.


It is possible to boil the hops separately from the malts & sugars for a shorter time and with a much smaller volume. The default recipes Peter Abbot 1 & 2 were produced this way and had similar characteristics. Late hopping is not necessary.


The coloured cells in column “N” are for this purpose, the blue panel at the page bottom reflect what is happening in the clear panel apart from the “new” hopping method.


Again, by trial & error, we could end up with a figure of “28”g of “Goldings (Worc.)” in cell M16, with a “Boil Vol (l)” of “2”litres in cell M31 & a “Boil time” of “35”min in cell M33 a beer brewed this way should have a bitterness again of 24 EBU.





Mashed brews need to be done on the “Beer Calc,” below is my chosen example:-
















B.  Munich Dunkel








I shall be using Lager/Pilsner malt, Chocolate malt & Hallertau hops whose quoted Alpha acid is 2.5%. The default “% AA” for Hallertau is set at 4.5% (cell G85), clicking on this cell shews “=G$123”, this tells me I must change cell G123 to my required figure of 2.5, the “$” can be ignored for our purposes. Initially I will enter “5000”g “Lager malt (Pilsner)” cell B81 & “200”g in B85, “Chocolate” malt, if known, the “Yeast efficiency %” can be set in cell B95, if not a “typical” figure (cell L71) can be used, I’ve chosen “73.5”%. The default “BREW EFFICIENCY (%)” cell C68 can be reduced to say 65% if you splash a lot, or increased if you are a good masher.


Things don’t look too bad apart from the colour so I’ll try reducing it by a half to “100”g, this lowers my gravities by about 12 which is not a problem and the colour is now 38. Minor adjustments can now be made as requited.


Now on to the hops. Rounding the “Boil Vol.” (H98) up to 16 litres & increasing the “Boil time” H99 to 90 mins gives a “% Utilization” of 20.3% (cell H101), putting “90”g of hops in cell H85 gives around 20 EBU, if I like a good hop aroma, a further “10”g hops can be added (J85) for the last 15 mins of the boil (J99) & making the bitterness about 21 EBU.



The Final Spreadsheet



General Notes:-


Again, like the Extract Calc., provision is made for boiling the hops with or without any sugars.

The “Effective” O.G. & F. G. s include the priming sugar.

The American bitterness unit, the IBU is the same as The European EBU.

The default “BREW EFFICIENCY (%)” cell C68 is for grains etc. only, malt extracts & sugar are not affected.












Here are some typical guidelines for several wine styles, they are not, by any means “fixed”.


Typical Parameters

Wine Type                              % alc.             % acid            % tannin                                 Style                            Typical Finished Gravities

Dry White Table                       11-13               0.55-0.70         <0.04                                       Dry                              <995

Dry Red Table                          11-13               0.50-0.65         0.1-0.3                                     Med. Dry                     995-1005

Rose                                        11-13               0.60-0.75         0.04     0.08                             Med. Sweet                 1005-1010

Sweet White Table                   12-15               0.50-0.60         <0.04                                       Sweet                           1010-1015

Social                                       14                    0.55-0.65         <0.15                                       Social                           1010-1020

Dessert (fruit)                           17-20               0.55-0.65         0.2-0.3

Dessert (Port)                           17-20               0.40-0.50         0.2-0.3



            Calculators cannot tell you if the final product is good, bad or indifferent, it can only give approximate parameters.

            Approximately 5g or1 tsp of Bentonite will be used at the start of fermentation to help clear the wine.

            Approximately 5g or1 tsp of pectic enzyme will be used at the start of fermentation to prevent hazes.

            Approximately 2.5g or1/2 tsp of yeast nutrient will be added to the must.

            In the “Screen shots” some cells may be “hidden” for clarity.

            Version 1.2 of the “Wine Calc.” is used.

            Fermentation increases acidity by about 1.5%.

            In the spreadsheet columns K, L, M etc. are editable.

            “Easy-to-use” quantities will be used where possible, i. e. fruit juices will be used from 1 litre Tetra Paks.




This is a good recipe to start because of its simplicity. Many recipes call for 3 litres of juice and that will be our starting point.


Suppose we have 2 litres of white grape juice & 1 litre of apple juice, and that, from the juice labels, the sugar content of these is 15.6 & 11g per 100ml respectively. We can put our juice quantities in the relevant cells (“1000” in cell C93 & “2000” in cell C95) and enter their corresponding sugar content (“11” in cell K93 & “15.6” in K95).


The SUMMARY section (rows 136 to 139) shew an O. G. (Original Gravity) of 1034, an F. G. (Final Gravity) of 997 giving 4.8 % ABV, 0.6% final acidity (fermentation adds about 1.5% acidity) & 0.01% tannin.









Looking at the “Typical Parameters” above we can see that our alcohol content is far too low. This can be increased by increasing the sugar so we could put “1000”g in the SUGAR - ADDED cell C116 (see above).


Our alcohol content is far too high at 16.7% (calc.) so we could try reducing the sugar (cell C116) by say a half to 500g thus lowering our wine to 10.6% (see right), a lowish figure but the designer may prefer this, the whole idea is to make a wine to our specification! Adding another 50g of sugar (“550” in cell C116) will give us about 11.2% ABV, again we can increase or decrease this figure as required.


Sometimes the actual Original & Final Gravities can be very different from the calculated values but this will not be known until fermentation is finished, then, if required, our new values can be inserted in cells N134/135 to obtain more accurate value for our alcohol content in cell N136.





Assume we want to make a medium red wine & that we like raspberries & strawberries. We go to our local homebrew shop & buy 245g red grape concentrate and red wine yeast, we purchase a tin of raspberries & a tin of strawberries from the local shop, bring them home & enter the details from the packaging into our wine calculator, ensuring that all the other cells have correct values.


Our calculated alcohol content, final acidity & tannin levels are too low so, from our previous example we can assume adding “500”g sugar in cell C116 is a good starting point. A teaspoon full each of tartaric acid & grape tannin seems to be a convenient figure to add and 1 level teaspoon contains around 5 ml or 5g, so we enter these guesses as below.












Now we can see our alcohol and acidity are still too low, our tannin is too high & also that our teaspoon holds slightly more than 5g. Increasing our sugar (C116) to “700”, our acid (C118) to “7” & reducing the tannin (C119) to “2.5” brings the wine more into line. The top lines of columns Q, R & S allow us to adjust for different acid types.












Our STYLE is given as DRY in cell G139 (above) & we are making a medium wine. The little “style” table at the beginning of this section gives typical “finished” values, we never specified whether we wanted a medium-dry or medium-sweet, let’s choose a mid-point value of around 1005. Cell C124 allows us to enter a value for SWEETENING SUGAR, entering an arbitrary figure of say “100”g will give an F. G. of 1002 in cell C138 and a Medium Dry style in C131. Increasing cell C124 to “140” gives us calculated value of 1005 in C138 which is what we designed for (see right).


Adding the SWEETENING SUGAR to C124 alters the figures in cells C129 to C133, this allows us to add the sugar as a solution to our fermented wine without diluting it & ending up with more than our desired 4.5 litres.






By definition Cyder is made from pure apple juice and Cider from apple juice, water, sugar etc. The easiest way to make cider is from a kit but these can be very variable in quality, some can be almost as bad as the highly commercial industrial stuff sold to-day which can contain all sorts of colourings, artificial sweeteners & other assorted chemicals.



            Calculators cannot tell you if the final product is good, bad or indifferent, it can only give approximate parameters

            Most freshly pressed and “boxed” apple juices contain around 11g sugar and 6.9g acid per 100 ml., these are the figures I shall be using, although more accurate data can be obtained from the excellent “Must” by Gerry Fowles.

            All recipes will have an initial volume of 4.7 l, thus, allowing for losses, we will end up with about 4.5 l bottled cider. If you do scale up for larger volumes, do not scale up the quantity of yeast.

            A mixture of different apple juices is generally believed to give better results than a single variety – do a tour of your local shops/supermarkets buying a 1 litre Tetra-Pac from each. Avoid any juices containing additives/preservatives etc. & ignore anything with the word “drink” on the label as they contain sugars.

            Approximately 5g or1 tsp of Bentonite will be used at the start of fermentation to help clear the cider.

            Approximately 5g or1 tsp of pectic enzyme will be used at the start of fermentation to prevent hazes.

            Yeast nutrient should not be necessary but you may add a “dash” at the start of fermentation if you wish.

            Any wine yeast may be used but Champagne is best as gives smaller & more solid deposits in the bottle. Beer yeasts may be used to give a sweeter cider but the calculations assume wine is used.

            In the “Screen shots” some cells may be “hidden” for clarity.

            Version 1.2 of the “Wine Calc.” is used.

            All ciders will be dry, artificial sweeteners such as Saccharin or preferably proper wine sweeteners may be added.

            Fermentation increases acidity by about 1.5%.

            In the spreadsheet columns K, L, M etc. are editable.





From the definition above there should be a blank in the SUGAR - ADDED cell (C116) but this will be added at the time of bottling in order to make a sparkling cider, and as it will affect the parameters of the cider, it must be included in our calculations, Note that it will make our calculated O. G. slightly higher than our actual O. G. but the final figures should be correct. I intend adding 5g sugar to each litre of cider so the formula for this cell (fx) is “=5*4.5”, alternatively I could simply work out that 5g x 4.5 (final volume) is 22.5 & put this figure straight into cell C116. Ensure that the SWEETENING SUGAR TO BE ADDED cell C127 is either blank or set to zero. Our final bottled volume will be 4.5 litres (Cell C127) and an allowance for “wastage” is made in cell C128, by default this is set to 200ml but the user can adjust this as required.


Sometimes the actual Original & Final Gravities can be very different from the calculated values but this will not be known until fermentation is finished, then, if required, our new values can be inserted in cells N134/135 to obtain more accurate value for our alcohol content in cell N136.


The SUMMARY section (rows 136-139) tell us to expect an O. G. of around 1043, an F. G. of 997, thus giving an estimated 6.1% AVB and an acidity of 0.84%. The tannin value of 0.1% is of no real consequence in ciders but the acidity is high. One way of reducing acidity is to add say 5g (1.7 tsp) of sodium bicarbonate in cell C117, you will then see the acidity drop to a milder 0.66%. Raising the gravity by adding sugar will tend to “mask” the acidity slightly but I would not recommend this, alternatively could replace some of the of apple juice with water & sugar to make Simple Cider (see below).





This is a variation of the cider on the YoBrew cider page.



3l Apple juice (Supermarket type, no added chemicals or sugar & avoid anything with “drink” in the name)

50g sugar


The SUGAR ADDED column (C116) is now made up of the 50g sugar in the ingredients plus 5g per litre priming sugar.

The final product is a much gentler drink of 4.5% ABV and 0.59% acidity which is still noticeable when drinking.




Some of the juice could be replaced by pear juice, replacing it all would make “Perry”. Unfortunately I have no reliable information regarding pear juice and so it is not included in the spreadsheet but normally the apple juice is replaced by an equal amount of pear juice. I have even seen recipes containing both juices.

Petals from an aromatic, fully opened rose, picked on a good sunny day, can be added around day 4, giving a little subtlety to the bouquet and flavour, elderflowers can also be used, but be careful as they are very strongly flavoured and can easily become over-powering.








(Not written in any particular order.)


The Alpha acid (AA) of hops gives beer its bitterness & some of the flavour & aroma.


This picture is of my Fuggles, after harvesting hops are dried, packed & stored in cool dark conditions before use. Some hops are best for beers, others for lagers, they are generally classed as being either “bittering”, “dual-purpose“ or “aroma” varieties. Bittering hops have the higher AA content and are the most economical as smaller quantities are used (easier for the brewer too), aroma types are usually low in AA and are often added as late hops about 15 minutes from the end of the boil, adding aroma but little bitterness to the beer.


The Specific Gravity (S. G.) of a liquid, as measured by a hydrometer, is the ratio between the weight of a liquid compared to the weight of an equal volume of water. 1 Litre of water (@20 C & normal atmospheric pressure) weighs 1 Kg and its

S. G. is 1 Kg/1 litre = 1 or, as normally denoted, 1000 or 1.000 or 0 Brewers degrees, I have adopted 1000 for this article. If a liquid has a S. G. of say 1040 then it is heavier than water & 1 litre would weigh 1.040 Kg or 1040 g (at this point you will probably be highly delighted that I’ve adopted Metric & not Imperial, or even worse U. S. units!). Similarly a liquid whose

S. G. is 993 is lighter than water, 1 litre weighing 0.993 Kg or 993 g.


Original Gravity (O. G.) is the gravity (S. G.) of a liquid before fermentation, Final Gravity (F. G.) is the gravity (S. G.) after fermentation. Gravity drop is the difference between these two gravities, and the ABV (alcohol by volume) is approximately equal to Gravity drop/7.45.




(Described as having magical properties by Dave Line as the scale always faces away from you!)






A spreadsheet is simply a grid made up of re-sizeable (horizontal) rows numbered “1, 2, 3, ” etc. and (vertical) columns lettered “A, B, C, ….., AA, AB, ” etc. Each rectangle or CELL has its own “Map reference” i. e. AQ18, where AQ refers to the relevant column & 18 to the relevant row. The cells can be used to store numbers, letters and, most importantly, they are able to perform mathematical functions (sums - i.e. add-ups, takeaways, timeses, guzinta’s**** etc.). Luckily all we have to do is insert or delete numbers, once we have altered a cell, just press the return or enter keys, or click the left mouse button (LMB) and the change takes place.


The screenshot (right) hopefully explains some of the above terms.






**** Guzinta - for those of you who are not mathematically minded, 3 guzinta 15 five times!



Peter J. Laycock  9~8~’7
N. B. Shew/shewn are NOT miss-spelt, just slightly old-fashioned English (like me!).

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