The Home Brewer’s Formulary Poster is Pretty and Pretty Useful

As a long-time home brewer, I was tired of having to stop in the middle of the brewing process, look for the right book or magazine and open it with sticky fingers.

detail of hop leaf from HBF poster

I set out to make something that I could hang on my basement wall, something I could look at and quickly find the info I need when I need it. This poster is the result.  Click here for a closer look.

The Formulary is great for recipe formulation sessions, for quick reference during brewing or for just contemplating the wonderful world of beer styles. It’s the tool that gives you access to all the references you need – but leaves your hands free.

22 panes / 22 sections

The illustrations fit roughly into 5 major categories: Mash, Recipe formulation, Weights and Measures, Fermentation, Packaging and Evaluation. Here’s a list and description of the figures in each category:

Mashing: refers to the process of making a sweet syrup (wort) out of malted grains and water.  The mashing process always involves encouraging the starches in the grains to convert to sugars and can also involve breaking down proteins in the grains.  Basically mashing involves crushing the grains, mixing them with a measured amount of heated water and letting them rest at specific temperatures within a specific pH range for a specific time.

Optimal Mash pH Range.

A chart showing the preferred mash pH range for an efficient starch rest conversion.  Also shows how to tend toward a more or a less fermentable wort.

Optimal Starch Rest Temperature Range.

A chart showing the preferred mash temperature range for an efficient
starch rest conversion.  Also shows how to tend toward a more or a less
fermentable wort.

Optimal Acid/Protein Rest Temperature Ranges.

A chart showing the mash temperature range for efficient acid and protein rests.

Manipulating Sweet/Dry Balance

A table comparing certain mash conditions with wort quality and finished beer characteristics.  This is another way to figure out how changes in the way the mash is carried out affect the resulting beer.  Example: A lower mash pH will yield a more fermentable wort and thus a drier finished beer, all things being equal.

Recipes: a variety of references that can help when drafting a new beer recipe or when fiddling with an old one.

Optimum Yield of Fermentables.

This is a table showing various grains and other sugar sources and listing the maximum extraction potential for each from mashing.  This can be used with the grain bill and mash efficiency calculations to estimate the Original Gravity of a proposed recipe.

Grain Bill & Mash Efficiency Calculations.

There are three formulas for calculating 1) the Mash Efficiency of a batch of beer you already made, 2) the Predicted Gravity of a recipe or batch you plan to make, and 3) the pounds of any kind of grain required to use in a recipe in order to hit a desired Original Gravity.

Predicting Beer Color.

A collection of tools for predicting beer color based on recipe ingredients. This includes quick definitions of MCUs, SRMs and EBCs, a formula for calculating MCUs from a beer recipe, a comparison of MCUs and SRMs and a conversion formula from U.S. to European color units.

Beer & Grain Color Scales.

A bar chart showing a graphic comparison of beer color (in MCUs and SRMs) and Grain Color (in SRM or Degrees Lovibond)

Calculating Hop Bitterness Contributions.

Formulas for calculating hop contributions to beer bitterness.  There are metric and U.S. units versions of a formula for calculating IBUs(International Bittering Units), IBU correction for a high gravity boil,  and a formula for HBUs (home brewer bittering units).

Hop varieties & Typical Alpha Acid Levels.

A large table showing ranges of typical alpha acid percentages for 38 common hop varieties.  This is a good starting place for deciding what kind of hops to put in a new recipe, for hop substitutions and for estimating the probable alpha acid levels for home grown hops.  NOTE:  The numbers here can be used in the hop bitterness calculations, though usually it is best to refer to AA% reported on actual hops used.

Estimating Hop Utilization.

This chart provides one of the numbers for the hop bitterness calculations. It allows you to estimate how much of the total potential bittering from hops you are using, based on the duration of the boil.

Fermentation: mainly information about home brewing yeasts and the conditions that suit them.

Fermentation Temperature Ranges.

A table showing activity and typical fermentation temperature ranges for ale and lager yeasts. Just in case you are keeping those ale yeasts in your cold basement.

Typical Yeast Growth Curves.

A graph of typical yeast activity over time for ale and lager yeasts. Illustrates how suspended yeast expands as specific gravity falls. O.K., Not terribly useful – just cool.

Yeast Starter Recipes.

A table showing how much extract and yeast nutrient to include for various volumes of yeast starter at two different specific gravities.

Yeast Pitching Rates.

Recommended amount of yeast slurry to add per five gallons of beer and how much starter it takes to grow the slurry.  for both Ales and Lagers.

Weights and Measures: a collection of some of the most common things that slip your mind while you are brewing.  Temperature, Mass/Weight, Volume and Density.

Liquid Density (Gravity) Scales.

A table comparing Specific Gravity (e.g. 1.020), gravity units (e.g. 20) and degrees plato (e.g. 5) – the various scales that occur on your hydrometer. Also formulas for converting between the three.

Density of Dry Ingredients.

A table relating the weight and the volume of six common fermentable materials. You can use this to figure out how many cups of corn sugar approximates 1/2 lb of it.  In metric and U.S.

U.S. Volume Equivalences.

Tables showing how many pints in a gallon, ounzes in a quart, etc. and how many gallons and liters in various sizes of barrel.

Fahrenheit & Celsius Temperature Scales.

A graphic thermometer comparing the two temperature scales and formulas for converting both ways.

International Measures & conversions.

Two tables comparing U.S., Imperial and Metric units.  One for Volume, one for Weight/Mass.

Packaging and Evaluation: the final steps of the brewing process.  Now you are nearly ready to drink.

Carbonation & Priming Rates.

A table showing how much corn sugar or Malt extract to include to prime Ales and Lagers with typical fermentation.

Alcohol Content by Weight & Volume.

This shows how to calculate alcohol by volume (v/v) based on original and final gravities and how to calculate alcohol by weight (w/v) from alcohol by volume.