Recipe Development | Devil's Peak Brewing Company

Recipe Development

Recipe Development

Recipe development normally starts with an airplane flight. Someone, somewhere in the company is going abroad. Whether it’s a few days in the UK or a few weeks on the west coast of the US, the priority becomes singular.

“How am I going to fit all these beers in this suitcase?”

Inspiration is a key ingredient in the process, and there’s no better way to get inspired than to try world class examples of the beers you’re wanting to make.

“It’s always exciting to sit down for a recipe development meeting,” says our brewer Al.

“We’ve normally got ten to fifteen beers, all of which rank at 95+ on Ratebeer. The vast majority of these aren’t available in South Africa, so it’s quite a privilege to try the likes of Pliney, Wooky Jack and Speedway Stout. The massive amounts of cheese and assorted meats doesn’t hurt either.”

But once the glasses are emptied, and the buzz dies down, the brewers at Devil’s Peak get to work on bringing to life their own interpretations of these styles. Styles which sometimes challenge consumers to step outside of their comfort zone – all in the name of broadening South Africa’s beer horizons.

So how exactly will DPBC put its own mark on an Irish Red Ale or a Mocha Porter? Which hops will bring about the very best white IPA we can produce?

These are not easy questions to answer. Luckily, Al was happy to sit down and walk me though a bit of his recipe development process. For this example. he uses a Mocha Porter.

“For me it has to start with the malt. I want to lay a foundation that will hold up the beer. Generally enough pale malt to get me at least three quarters of the way to the gravity range I’m trying to hit. For something richer, a toasted malt like Munich, Vienna or Biscuit can be used. Then come the specialty malts. These will determine the direction of the beer. In a Mocha Porter for example, I’d use dark and chocolaty malts – Chocolate malt, Carafa Special Type III, Special B and Biscuit.”

“Next up is the mash and water profile. The mash profile has a huge effect on the body of a beer so for this dark and chocolaty beer I would keep my mash shorter and warmer than normal before mashing out. For the water, enough carbonates to buffer the acidic darker malts, calcium for the mash enzymes and some chlorides for body.”

“Enough hops to bitter, often at ninety minutes, then again between twenty minutes and the end of the boil for aroma and flavour. For a Mocha Porter I’d prefer the malt to shine so I’d keep the IBU/SG bitterness ratio around 0.4 – 0.45. I’m also not looking for heaps of hops flavour and aroma here so after a bittering addition, I’d chuck in the last addition just before thirty minutes to flame out. I’d use a piney, herbal type hops like Chinook or Columbus.”

“Last but not least – the yeast. The most important ingredient, in this beer I’d like some dark stone fruit esters, so I’d pick my favourite English ale yeast. Provide the yeast a clean home to work in and keep them happy with a suitable temperature.”

We’re looking forward to bringing you exciting new styles in the months to come!


One Comment on “Recipe Development

  1. Loved this article, very insightful process! I’m a home-brewer around the corner and have only done 15 brews so my process is still very much a bit of research and large helpings of sheer luck!


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