View Full Version : Scaling Recipes

09-03-2008, 04:48 PM
This is a great forum. I've been lurking for a while and thought I would introduce myself. (There's an actual question below, honest.)

I'm preparing to open a cottage brewery here in Dublin, Ireland, making 1,440 hL in year one, and 2,880 hL in year two. With our Draconian tax and regulatory situations, the only way I can get this off to a decent start is by working single-handedly for two years (my wife will provide administrative support, however). I'll start with three 10-hL fermenters, a 10-hL mash tun/boiler, a couple of 10-hL utility tanks, then double the fermenters in the second year. The rest of the kit will be functional but minimal. A decent pump, plate chiller, wort aerator, etc, etc. To maintain flow, I'll have to filter (not aggressively) and force carbonate. I have some strategies for preventing much harm from those procedures. Everyone in IE wants bright, kegged beer.

There is almost no craft brewing here, and very little import of interesting beers from overseas, because the duty situation makes it difficult to make money. Pretty much everything drunk here is mass market stuff from Diageo, Heineken, and InBev, whose economies of capital and scale give them the edge they need. There is a chain of microbrewery / brew pubs with a nice menu of interesting house beers and a fab menu of exotic imports, but they cater to tourists. Your Dublin local pub is basically Guinness, Heineken, and Smithwick's.

So my approach is to make *better* but not *different* beer, and not compete for attention among tourists who are already well served. (Wish me luck.)

With that out of the way, here's my question: we all know that scaling recipes never quite works. I'm doing 50-L batches and I've got three candidates for production: a blond Pilsner-ish ale, a classic Irish red ale, and a dry stout. (I'll leave the task of educating local drinkers to craft brewers who are independently wealthy.) But I've been doing this long enough to know that if I simply multiply everything by 20, it's not going to taste the same. I wonder if anyone has anecdotal info to share: which ingredients have you found need to be increaed or decreased when scaling?

Good Lord, I do go on sometimes.

09-04-2008, 12:03 PM
It may feel like cheating, but many times I simply take a recipie and put it into a program called "ProMash". Then adjust it upward. It will take the scaling of hop ratios up in a different manner than grains. Some slight adjustments to efficiency are needed, but minimal. Its made my brewing easier and my beers are usually close to target. There are others, but I like ProMash. Hope that helps. Cheers!

09-06-2008, 07:49 AM
Oh, I don't think using software is cheating at all. No more so than sharing tips with others in a forum, say :)

I haven't used ProMash but I did give BeerSmith a go. I asked it a few questions that I already knew the answers to before trusting it with ones I couldn't answer (kinda how you size up a consultant). I was a bit underwhelmed, let's say. Actually, a discussion of different software strengths and weaknesses would provide matter for a good thread (if there isn't one already -- must do a search).

I'll definitely try ProMash; if it gets you close to your target in the real world, that's the main thing.

Thanks for the tip,

09-06-2008, 11:02 AM
Promash will definitely get you close on a scale up. There are a lot of other factors in play during the scale up that affect the end product flavor as well. (Milling on a new mill, Mash/system efficiencies, Grain Handling, longer auger runs in our case, larger fermenters change yeast performance etc...) I just scaled up from our 7 BBL brewpub system to our new 30 BBL system. The first pilot batches we just let Promash scale the recipes up and let nature take it's course. What we found was the impact of specialty grains, such as crystal in the 30 - 77 L, range were much more pronounced on the larger batches, we scaled these down on almost all of our recipes. We made a few adjustments to our recipes and we are very happy with the results so far. Some of the changes we for the better and we have a much more stable and predictable product now. The only real way to scale up is to just do it and be conscious of what you do at every step and analyze the results (ie drink some beer and see how it came out, it's a tough job but someone needs to do it)!! Good luck.

09-09-2008, 07:19 PM
That's just the kind of tip I was looking for. I do want the first production batches to be close to the candidates I'm settling on. I don't want to sell one product and deliver another.

Scaling down the specialty grains won't be hard. I have kind of a bias toward proportioning base malts for the flavour I want, and relying less on specialty grains. Seems a bit more "honest" in some sense, but even better, it saves money :)

It's a scary thing, really. I know it's only a 20x scale-up. But once I decide how to proportion everything, it will be out of my hands. Mother Nature is pretty much in charge from that point. I have this recurring nightmare where I get stuck with 3,000 litres of undrinkable beer a couple of weeks after opening the brewery. I know that even if it's a little different, it will taste fine unless something goes radically wrong, but if I was beaming with confidence, I'd really be asking for it.