I've been reading John Palmer's How to Brew and I'm getting ready for my first brew day in a few days. I'm aiming to follow the basic 'Cincinnati Pale Ale' recipe that he provides but I'm going to have to substitute some ingredients and I'm just wondering if it will be OK to do this.

His recipe:

OG = 1.045, 30 IBUs

  • 1.5kg pale malt extract syrup, unhopped
  • 1.1kg amber dry malt extract
  • 6 AAUs bittering hops
  • 5 AAUs finishing hops
  • packet dry yeast

My proposed changes:

  • Malt: 1.8kg amber liquid + 1kg pale dry
  • Hops: Just one variety of the local 'Cascade'-style hop.


  1. Will I have to compensate in any way for the malt changes? I understand people target different OGs/IBUs for the style they want, but will this be OK to produce a first brew?

  2. Regarding hops, mine are 7.3% AA so I'm thinking I'll use 6AAUs of them for bittering and probably none for finishing in order to keep it simple. Does that sound like a reasonable plan, or should I use some for finishing in order to get more AAUs?

  3. In terms of boiling the wort, I have a 50L aluminium pot - should I boil the whole amount of water (~20L) with the malt and hops in it, or should I do what Palmer does in his recipe and only boil part of the final volume, adding the rest into the fermenter? I'm a bit confused about why he wouldn't boil all the water and ingredients together as I thought that produced a better wort, but I've also read that some people only boil small amounts of water and then add it to the rest in the fermenter...

I know this is probably a bit weird but I'm not experienced enough to know what will just 'work'. I'm not that worried about what will be 'best' - just trying to get a first brew out that tastes like a decent beer and doesn't fail. Thanks in advance for reading and responding.

4 Answers 4


Your recipe look completely fine to me.

  1. Your malt bill looks OK. Your OG will be ever so slightly higher, and color may turn out very slightly darker but not enough to care about.

  2. "Finishing hops" are not added for bitterness, they're there for flavour and aroma and don't actually add significant bittering, since it's the extended boiling of hops that creates bitterness. A pale ale should have notable hop character, and it will probably turn out pretty bland and boring without any late additions. I would follow his recipe and add hops at the amount and time prescribed.

The amounts and times for hop additions have a huge impact on the final product and is something homebrewers like to experiment with.

  1. A bigger boil is better, but boiling the full volume requires that you have the means to cool it to pitching temperature as well. With a partial boil you can get away with cooling it in a water bath in your kitchen sink. For a 50 liter kettle you will absolutely need a purpose made cooling device (immersion chiller, plate chiller, no-chill cube etc...)

The malt bill is fine, and your hops are typical Cascade range for alpha acids. I'll be fine if you follow the recipe for the rest.

  • Hey thanks very much for answering. Regarding hops, I'll add the amount stated at the time stated, but do you think it would be OK to just add the one style of hop rather than two? Regarding the boil - yes makes sense with the need to cool. Will it be fine to do a partial boil in a 50L pot? The large pot should aid in bath-cooling a smaller boil right? Dec 2, 2016 at 8:47
  • One style of hop is fine, and cascade style hops are good in pale ales. If you can make a waterbath big enough for your big pot, then go ahead and boil in it. I boil in a 13L pot for small batches. It'is just way easier to handle in the kitchen,
    – Mumble
    Dec 2, 2016 at 15:02

Basically you just have a 5.73% change. The difference in these malt types and weights.

To scale your batch up so you use the 2.8kg of extract. Simply increase water and hop additions up 5.73%.

First we establish both recipes to a baseline using that 1kg dry= 1.25kg liquid. Original recipe has a value of 2.875 and the second 3.05 giving a percent difference of 5.73% to increase all other ingredients by.

The only trade off by using your malts in this case is a slightly lighter final SRM color of the beer, and a slight difference in malt flavor. Both will probably be unnoticeable to most in side by side comparisons. If you don't have the extra hops just increase the water. The IBU difference would only be about -1 IBU, but may be exaggerated to -2 to -3 IBUs without water from residual sweetness. Yeast amount isn't a concern at all in this situation.

This is all just academic for your situation. So minor it doesn't really matter. RDWHAHB and brew your batch! :-)

  • @Ichneumonid also, if you can boil the entire batch in one pot, then yes do that. A partial boil is really only if you don't have a pot big enough to do it all. Dec 2, 2016 at 20:13
  • I'll stick with partial for now because I don't (yet) have an immersion chiller. I'll just be using a bathtub to cool the wort. Dec 2, 2016 at 20:17

Single hop brews can be quite awesome, but maybe read around to see if people have tried single hop beers with that particular hop.

No worries about doing a partial boil in a larger pot, from what I know. I've had better luck doing full boils than partial, but cooling it down can be a pain. Remember to be careful no matter what, since you've got a whole bunch of volume of boiling liquid. An ice bath in the sink is generally the easiest thing.

Have fun with your first brew!

  • Single-hop Cascade is delicious, so trying similar hop seems like pretty good idea, even if no one tried it yet.
    – Mołot
    Dec 2, 2016 at 22:00

Don't boil the malt extract. Just boil the hops. After the required hop boiling time, strain the "hop tea" into a fermentation vessel. Add the malt extract to the mix and add some more boiling water to help dissolve to extract. The boiling water will also pasteurise the resulting wort. Stir as needed. Add cold water directly from a potable water source (eg a mains supply tap) and dilute to the volume needed. adjust temp with some boiling water as required. When all is at the correct temperature and volume, pitch the yeast.

Simple and efficient. Works for me.

  • Not all extracts are boiled enough in the factory. I know at least one extract manufacturer that recommended boil with their extracts. Risking like that is not a good advice for someone's first brew.
    – Mołot
    Dec 3, 2016 at 0:05
  • There is NO NEED to boil malt extract to make beer. Full stop. Dissolving malt extract in boiling water is sufficient for all brewing needs. I would personally recommend this method more than any other in terms of safety and cost efficiency - it also produces beer equal to any other. Others may do things differently but that does not detract from the validity of this method. What more's to be said.... Dec 4, 2016 at 8:55
  • Instructions I got from manufacturer called for boil, yet you say there is no need... How can you know better than my manufacturer?!
    – Mołot
    Dec 4, 2016 at 8:57
  • I urge you to try the "no boil" method - brewing is not rocket science (although some pretend it is). The manufacturers instructions just confirm one can make it that way if one chooses to do so. But boiling is not the only way to make beer from malt extract - it works just as well if one doesn't boil it too. No one needs to believe me - anyone can confirm this method works for themselves. I use it all the time and so do a growing number of extract brewers. Dec 4, 2016 at 21:39

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