View Full Version : Recipe development time line

Kellsboro Jack
08-30-2009, 09:36 PM
A highly naive question here, but on a reasonable basis how long would one expect the development time line to be going from concept and literally scratch to creating a mutually appreciated brew recipe which could be taken to a contract brewing partner?

I appreciate the invariable tweaking and refinement of any final product so that is always a factor in varying the time frame.

Can it be a fairly efficient process - once the initial flavors and goals are determined as requirements - with just a few different test batches or is most likely like dozens upon dozens of batches?

08-31-2009, 08:18 AM
Hiya' Jack,
I feel this is a hugely-variably driven question (and answer). Basically, this process can take as long as you want it to take. I have written commercial recipes that were in the "development" process for months and years; always tweaking, always adjusting. Others I wrote once and it has never changed. Years ago, we agreed to contract brew a certain beer that was once enormously popular across Montana. That brewery went under and the new brand "owners" wanted a Montana brewery to roll out the new version. They had the name, imagery, tag lines.....but they didn't have a recipe. The "brewmaster" showed up at my brewhouse with his recipe. We brewed it and knew immediately that it wouldn't work at all. That night, I rewrote it, came in the next day, we brewed it, hit the numbers we wanted, sampled it out of the FV days later, added a dry hop, and that was it. Full development time on that one was about five days (mostly taken up with fermentation). As far as I know, that recipe is still being produced nationwide (WHY OH WHY DIDN'T I SELL THAT RECIPE TO THEM!?!?!).

Kellsboro Jack
08-31-2009, 02:36 PM
Thanks Dave for the reply.

It would appear that recipes while often a well kept secret aren't necessarily like intellectual property where by the creator is entitled to some form of royalty if it becomes a final signature - and importantly successful - brew.

My naive guess here is it would always take a degree of trial and error to take simply a recipe from another and producing a quality drink. All equipment must vary from brewer to brew along with water and other ingredients (if only slightly) from location to location. So for someone to match the original brewmasters plans and achieving the same results must be challenging.

Dave regarding your help with the folks doing their Montana brewery (or rather outright creating of their signature brew) are there many folks willing to develop a recipe on demand with their own equipment?

08-31-2009, 09:07 PM
Dave regarding your help with the folks doing their Montana brewery (or rather outright creating of their signature brew) are there many folks willing to develop a recipe on demand with their own equipment?
Hi Jack,
I don't know about "many folks", but contact me directly and I'd be happy to speak with you about this. Creating a recipe on demand usually depends on how much of the brewery's capacity has been reached.


09-01-2009, 02:38 AM
Usually for me it's something like this:
1/ Design on paper (actually computer spreadsheets)
2/ Brew
3/ ferment condition and evaluate (10-14 days)
4/ redesign with tweaks
5/ brew
6/ ferment, condition, filter, package (10-14 days)

First brew gets dumped if it's way off the mark, otherwise blended with tweaked versions. As I've been doing this for 25 years, it comes pretty easily now. It's really very simple.

The only difficulty is usually the client who either can't make up their mind, can't communicate effectively or assumes brewing to be an exact science and is so picky/particular that they won't sign off. Sometimes it's a combination of these factors. I've walked away from a couple of such nightmares over the years.

I remember one client, it was a pretty simple pale ale. After three trials, he said to me that ther is something missing on the production batches compared to the benchtop trial version he had started with. We did a tasting and he described and pointed out the missing element. When he asked me what it was,

'Oxidation' was my reply.

Good luck.


Kellsboro Jack
09-03-2009, 09:55 PM
Dave, Liam - I appreciate both your replies on this. The holy grail as it were of the perfect brew seems like an endless quest and that is a happy journey for someone who is doing it for themselves. From a client-type perspective the proverbial blank slate mated with a blank idea will go on and on if the time and financial means are there.

Logically I know that outlining specifics (or at least rough ideas as to) what the end product should be more akin to will narrow the trial and error process.

Even with that said it seems - and relying on well versed master such as yourself - finding success in short order, while the goal, needs to be assumed as the least likely.

Dave I'll drop you a PM if that's ok with you.

09-04-2009, 07:18 AM
I've been contract brewing 5 different breweries over the years. I started out with a 5 gallon recipe that we scaled up to 20bbls and made adjustments based upon the brewers experience. No pilot batch, first batch was bottled and kegged. I made small adjustments in subsuquent batches. After that all the next recipes were made upon in my head and brewed from there. no pilot batch at all.

beermail me and we can talk further

09-06-2009, 05:51 PM
Dave I'll drop you a PM if that's ok with you.

Yea Jack, no sweat.