My stay in New England has come to a close. If you’re in Rhode Island, I still highly recommend Craft Brews as the best homebrew shop in the area.
Now, I’m off to Orange County in a couple weeks, and I’ll be seeking a new LHBS to call my own. Does anyone have recommendations? I’ve been looking around online and O’Shea Brewing Company looks pretty solid, though I won’t be able to check it out until mid October.
Until the move, I’m in Colorado. In the past month or so, I’ve brewed: Dry Wit (w/ spices), Green Tea Saison, Maple Syrup Brown, Wheat-based Silky Porter, and an Oktoberfest. I plan to brew a Chile Pale and a Sweet Irish Red before the move as well. While in Colorado, I’ve been getting my supplies at Beer at Home in Englewood, which is a very solid shop.
Some people have requested that I post a calculator for the BU:RE ratio. This uses degrees Plato instead of Specific Gravity. If you don’t work in degrees Plato and don’t know how to convert from Specific Gravity, here’s a quick formula you’ll need to know:
degrees Plato = Specific Gravity / 4
To briefly describe what BU:RE does you, it is roughly a 10 point scale that helps estimate beer balance (with 5 being balanced, 10 being very bitter, and 1 being very sweet). It takes into account the bitterness of a beer (in IBUs) as well as Real Extract (in degrees Plato, which is calculated for you via the Original Gravity and Final Gravity inputs). While it can’t account for X factors like roasted malts and water composition, it goes a long way toward quantifying balance and is my current favorite method for calculating it.
BU:RE = IBU / ((0.1808 * OG °P) + (0.8192 * FG °P))
If you’d like to compare your beer against a style, here’s a large spreadsheet with all the BJCP style data you’ll need (including a column for the average BU:RE of the style). Beer Style Data (Google Docs)
I have a new calculation that I’ve been using when determining the expected balance of my beer recipes. It is a child of the commonly-used Bitterness Ratio (BU:GU), and the numbers output can be read in the same way as BU:GU. However, the one thing that is taken into account with the Relative Bitterness Ratio (RBR) that BU:GU does not account for is Apparent Attenuation (ADF).
The higher the degree of Apparent Attenuation (ADF), the more fermentable sugars are consumed and the less residual sweetness is left behind. That means that as ADF gets higher, beer balance tends more toward the bitter end of the scale. As ADF gets lower, beer balance tends more toward the sweet end of the scale.
For example: A beer that starts out at an OG of 1.050 at 25 IBU would be said to have a Bitterness Ratio of 0.5. If it were split into two batches and one had an apparent attenuation of 80% (Beer A), while another had an apparent attenuation of 60% (Beer B), Beer A would be perceived to be more bitter than Beer B, as the latter has considerably more residual sweetness.
In the pages linked below, you can find out a plethora of information explaining details about the Relative Bitterness Ratio (RBR). If you aren’t interested in the details, I’ve included the formula for figuring out RBR as well as a simple calculator if you just want to input some numbers and get results.
To quickly explain the formula:
RBR = Relative Bitterness Ratio. ADF = Apparent Attenuation. 0.7655 is the average ADF of all beer styles. Since the Relative Bitterness Ratio takes into account balance relative to all beer styles, it uses this as a constant. You are comparing your beer’s ADF against the average ADF (0.7655), then adjusting the standard Bitterness Ratio accordingly (it goes up if your ADF is higher than average, down if your ADF is lower than average). Just like BU:GU, higher numbers mean more bitter, lower numbers mean less bitter, and 0.5 is roughly average balance.
RBR = (BU:GU) x (1 + (ADF - 0.7655))
- Relative Bitterness Ratio (RBR): A fairly detailed explanation of Relative Bitterness Ratio.
- Beer Style Data: The underlying data used for these charts plus all other style data from the 2008 BJCP Style Guidelines.
- Bitterness Ratios (Chart): The average bitterness ratio for every beer style with relevant data.
- Relative Bitterness Ratios (Chart): The average Relative Bittneress Ratio for every beer style with relevant data, corrected for attenutation.
- Balance Rank: The balance of beers relative to each other, with BU:GU lined up next to RBR.
- Relative Bitterness Calculator: A simple web-based calculator to calculate RBR using BU:GU and Apparent Attenuation.
- Beer Style Data (Google Docs): This is a link to all of this data over at Google Docs
- Mad Alchemist: The author’s (Ryan Shwayder) homebrew website.
- External Resources:
- 2008 BJCP Style Guidelines: The official 2008 BJCP Style Guidelines can all be found here. This is where the numbers came from.
- Balancing Your Beer with the Bitterness Ratio: This is from Brad Smith at BeerSmith. It explains how to get the BU:GU ratio in the first place.
- BeerSmith: My favorite brewing software. Free trial, but you have to pay for the full version. It’s worth it.
- Brewtarget: The best free brewing software I’m aware of. Not as comprehensive as BeerSmith, but gets the job done for many.
What’s the Perfectly Average Beer? Well, it’s all of the averages from the 2008 BJCP Style Guidelines in one beer. I was surprised after entering all of the data that the average beer is roughly what I would expect an average beer to look like. For example, the average bitterness ratio (BU:GU) is almost exactly 0.5, which I’ve always considered perfectly balanced for most malt bills.
Want the short version? The Perfectly Average Beer looks like this:
- ABV: 5.8%
- IBU: 28.6
- SRM: 14
- OG: 1.058
- FG: 1.013
- Bitterness Ratio: 0.5
Want some more details? I’m happy to oblige!
|Alcohol By Volume||ABV Low: 4.95%||ABV High: 6.71%||ABV Avg: 5.83%|
|Bitterness||IBU Low: 20.68||IBU High: 36.51||IBU Avg: 28.60|
|Color||SRM Low: 10.07||SRM High: 17.97||SRM Avg: 14.02|
|Original Gravity||OG Low: 1.050||OG High: 1.065||OG Avg: 1.058|
|Final Gravity||FG Low: 1.009||FG High: 1.016||FG Avg: 1.013|
|Attenuation||Apparent Atten Avg: 76.55%||Real Atten Avg: 62.71%|
|Bitterness Ratio||IBU/OG Avg: 0.496|
Want even MORE? Well, you’ll have to wait. I’m working up another post about beer balance and how attenuation figures into it, and I have a massive chart of all the style guidelines I’ll link at that time. Until then, enjoy knowing what the Perfectly Average Beer looks like.
I moved to Rhode Island last year and have been on the lookout for a great homebrew shop ever since. Massachusetts had a couple decent ones, but nothing compared to what I’m used to from Colorado.
I saw on RIFT (Rhode Island Fermentation Technicians homebrew club) that this opened up in Wyoming, RI, and decided to check it out. I’m pretty particular about my homebrew shops being an advanced all-grain armchair brew scientist.
What a pleasant surprise!
This is the cleanest homebrew shop I’ve ever been in. It’s neatly organized, and the location is great (just off 95 in a nice part of town, unlike many homebrew shops where you double-check that your doors are locked).
The folks who run the place are friendly and knowledgeable. You can even send them your recipe the day before you go and they’ll put all the grains together and crush them for yo. Or, you can go and grab exactly how much you need from bins rather than having to buy grain 1 lb at a time (or formulate a recipe on-the-spot with the staff).
The selection is quite good. They have most of the Weyermann malts along with several from Muntons and some special malts like Special B, Honey Malt, and Victory. Lots of adjuncts like candi sugar and vanilla beans alongside just about any of the additives you could need. I also found the Platinum Strain yeast from White Labs I was looking for, and they even carry some local hops, which is very cool.
This is the best homebrew shop in Rhode Island, bar none–I’ve been to all of them in my search, and this absolutely leaves the rest in the dust.
If you live in Rhode Island or eastern Connecticut, check out Craft Brews Supplies and you won’t be disappointed. This is now my official LHBS.
Who doesn’t like charts? I decided to dig around for a while to see if anyone had made charts based on beer style guidelines and, if I couldn’t find anyway, I was going to make some myself. Well, someone else did it for me! Over at Lug Wrench Brewing, they created a series of charts about bitterness, alcohol, yeast, etc. A lot of useful stuff over there.
Perhaps my favorite one is the IBU to OG ratio chart, since I use the same information to balance my beers and this is a nice visual representation. Another chart I often look at is John Palmer’s age-old style spectrum, which compares malty vs. fruity and bitter vs. sweet in one chart. Another cool one is a motion chart of various BJCP guidelines made by the StrangeBrew.ca guy.
I might still make some sweet charts. If so, you’ll know.
I recently found a website/smartphone app called Pintley. Essentially, you rate beers you’ve had and it gives you recommendations based on your taste. It’s a great idea and the site is very well-executed, so I’m very hopeful that it’ll catch on and I’ll start discovering new beers through the tool. Sign up for Pintley!
A Discovery series I’ve fallen in love with: Brew Masters. From the Discovery website:
Sam Calagione, craft beer maestro and founder of Dogfish Head Brewery, and his partners in suds travel the world searching for exotic ingredients and discovering ancient techniques to produce beers of astounding originality.
While pompous beer geeks think he’s selling out (by the way, get over yourselves), this is a very interesting and entertaining series that will hopefully bring more attention the the craft, micro, and homebrewing scenes. I have my fingers crossed that the series will be successful and will continue to air.
A very nice website for getting homebrew questions answered quickly and knowledgeably is Homebrew Stack Exchange. You’ll frequently see some real names in the Homebrewing scene pop up there answering questions. Then there are random folk like me who know enough to pass along some advice and are willing to do so. Check out the site if you have any questions related to homebrewing you want answered.