I'm in the inception phase of a Harry Potter inspired butterbeer recipe. Since it's not well explained in the books, I'm going for a a flavor profile in the range of spiced eggnog and root beer.

I'm looking for a big, creamy head and (if possible) a color like hefeweizen. Spices will be nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and sassafras (also considering vanilla bean?). For malt I'm going for 40L caramel malt for steeping, and 50/50 Maillard Gold and Wheat extracts and some lactose.

Does anyone have have advice on amounts of the spices and lactose to use for a 1 gallon recipe and how to add a butterscotch flavor? I've heard some people talking about butterscotch extract/schnapps. I definitely want that thick head so nothing that will kill it. Finally hops or no? I don't want it to be unbalanced but I feel like hops is the wrong flavor profile. Some other bittering agent instead?

  • 2
    I know that there is a butterbeer as Harry Potter merchandise available, which tastes very (overpowering even) butterscotch. It is actually a soft drink. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – chthon
    Oct 16, 2017 at 12:32
  • 1
    Not sure that you want to get rid of the hops, as it has an important preservative effect in addition to the flavour.
    – FredrikH-R
    Oct 24, 2017 at 13:46

2 Answers 2


The butterscotch is a typical fault in many beers and is produced by diacetyl an ester produced by yeast in growth phase. Diacetcyl is cleaned up at the end of fermentation by raising temp to 68°. If you want this flavor, I'd recommend using us-05 or California ale yeast at 62-65°F for entire fermentation. Or any lager yeast and never do the diacetyl rest phase. Lower than normal pitch amounts Will also give high levels of diacetyl.

As far as the base beer a wheat base should give you a good starting point. Some yeasts can produce the flavors you want but you may be better just adding the desired spices late boil, and using a clean ester yeast. As far as hops, I would shoot for about a 20 ibu just to balance, as a bitter addition in 60min boil not much of the hop flavor will remain. Maybe concider a hop extract just for bittering as they will impart even less flavor from the hop.

  • Any idea about the amount of spices to add to a one gallon batch? Having never worked with spices before I'm worried I'm going to get the spice levels all wrong
    – bendl
    Oct 19, 2017 at 12:29
  • 1
    @bendl spice amounts can be tricky to dial in. I would suggest to take a base neutral beer like Coors banquet flavor to the spice levels you like then scale the additions to your batch. This method works well for secondary fermentation additions. Not so much for late boil additions, these additions will be muted some in comparison. As far as vanilla bean, you would only need about 1/2 a bean for 1 gallon, opened and scrapped for pretty big flavor. Most 5 galon batches using vanila only use a couple beans. Oct 19, 2017 at 12:37

What you're describing is a Cream Ale. The BJCP describes the the flavor as:

Low to medium-low hop bitterness. Low to moderate maltiness and sweetness, varying with gravity and attenuation. Usually well attenuated. Neither malt nor hops prevail in the taste. A low to moderate corny flavor from corn adjuncts is commonly found, as is some DMS. Finish can vary from somewhat dry to faintly sweet from the corn, malt, and sugar. Faint fruity esters are optional. No diacetyl.

You can add the spices (freshly ground/grated/crushed) in the last couple of minutes of the boil to make sure that you aren't introducing extraneous yeast.

  • Do you mean that's what will turn out if I brew my recipe? Otherwise that's pretty far off the mark on what I'm looking for. I'm going for cloudy like a Hefeweizen, and if anything I'd go for at least some diacetyl. I suppose I could replace corn adjunct with lactose, but that takes us well outside of the Cream Ale category.... I'm mainly looking for advice on spice levels to use so that I don't feel like I'm drinking a clove.
    – bendl
    Oct 16, 2017 at 21:01
  • 1
    Actually a cream ale is a very clean ale, dms is a fault in any style, but typical in some. Cream ales came on scene to compete with American lagers a very clean style. The corn helps with flavor and texture but when done right isn't detectable as as corn flavor from dms. Oct 17, 2017 at 14:39

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.