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If I have a recipe for a beer that I'd like to simply make bigger, what should be taken into account when scaling the recipe?

Imagine I have an amber ale recipe that I like. It comes in with an OG of 1.050 and an FG of 1.015, which is about 4.5% abv. Now imagine I want to boost this recipe to get it to about 8% abv. Should I just up the total amount of all grains (or extract) used, keeping the percentages the same? Would doing so affect the color? What about hops? Should I shoot for the same number of IBUs, or should I up the IBUs to account for it being a lot maltier?

I know I can play around with recipe software to figure out how much of each ingredient to use to hit the same color & bitterness, but that won't tell me if the recipe would "work." Have you scaled recipes in this way before? How did it work out?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

You don't want to up the specialties on the first pass. If the beer has the right flavor profile you want, then changing those will change the flavor. Furthermore, if you increase say the chocolate malt, the color will change too.

I'd start by upping the gravity with base malt until you got to about 80-90% of the final target gravity. Then get the rest of the gravity points you need using simple sugar. The simple sugar will help keep the beer drier than if you just go for it all with base malt.

After you brew the beer you might find that you need a pinch more of this or that specialty malt. But it won't be the same percentage that you needed to increase to change the OG.

While I haven't made a beer bigger this way, I have indeed made a beer smaller this way and the results are usually good. Also the podcast "Brew Strong" on The Brewing Network just did an episode on session beers and mentioned exactly these practices. You may want to check that out.

Oh yeah Hops: For the most part, I try to maintain the same bitterness to gravity ratio. Despite that the beer will be bigger and you are expecting to lose some utilization. However, if you are subbing in some simple sugar at the end of the boil then that lack of extra gravity on the kettle seems to help counter the loss of utilization. Working with the hopping ratio can be tricky, but I never expect to get it right the first time. This is just how I try to get a target range on the first pass without being to far off, then I can adjust the second time around.

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I've been listening to stuff on BN a lot lately. I'll look for that particular episode. –  JackSmith Oct 22 '10 at 17:09
    
That's a really good point about using sugar. If you just double the maltose, you'll have double the sweetness at the end, whereas the yeast will fully consume the table sugar. On the other hand, you can't just up the gravity using sugar only because you'd end up with a thin-bodied hot beer. I'll give you a shiny green check mark if you can address what to do with hops. –  JackSmith Oct 23 '10 at 12:06
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