Biabacus recipe development

Post #1 made 2 years ago

I'm hoping someone can help explain how to develop your own recipe using Biabacus. I have used it to scale recipes very successfully so far but can't seem to figure out how to make it work for designing my own. I saw somewhere on the site to try using % rather than entering weights for the grain bill but I can't alter the percent column on the left hand side. I'm sure I'm missing something in the software but can't nail it down. Any advice is appreciated.

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Re: Biabacus recipe development

Post #2 made 2 years ago
Hi Tony :salute: (I know I'm behind on another communication with you. Sorry about that. I'll get to it in the next few days ;) )

Just quickly here's a few things...

When designing, think in percentages but don't type "%" character on the left of the BIABacus as it seems to stay there. In other words just type the percent number. You'll need to make sure that your numbers add up to 100. For example, if you had 4 grains and typed in 80, 10, 5, 3 and 2 (which adds up top 100) but then decided that you wanted to increase the base grain from 80 to 85, the other three grains will not reduce. Instead, the BIABacus will read that as you wanting 85/105 parts of the grain bill being base grain.

I found one or two old posts (copied below and poorly written but...) that might help. I'll have more free time in a day or two so keep us posted. I'll keep an eye on this thread and answer any questions you have.
PistolPatch wrote:The BIABacus help is being written up now and you won't really find anything much on Recipe Design on the forum on it atm. Recipe Design has very little to do with numbers/software but with the BIABacus, that side of things is very easy...

1. Type in the OG you want in Section C and the percentages of each grain you want. In Section D, on the second line, type in the IBU's you want and then type in the amount of hops, their AA%, times and addition method. That's it.

You can also check to make sure your colour is right but...

The major part of recipe design should not be done in software. When people do, they say, "Oh no my colour (and colour formulas we have in software are not that great) is wrong! I'll throw in some crytal or dark malt to fix it. Great! Now it matches the style!!!" Or they look at the IBU estimate (especially in other software where you add the hops first and then see what IBU you get and which formula you are using and whether it was even written correctly) and focus on that instead of thinking about what each hop contribution will bring o the table.

The BIABacus, with it's set-up of typing in gravity and IBU goals before ingredients is ideal for the numbers part of recipe design. Its formulas are also correct whereas a lot of other software has its formulas wrong. The only thing the BIABacus won't do that a lot of other software will, is tell you if you are within style guidelines which is really just a gimmmick and it's a misleading gimmmick as it is just based on gravity, IBU and colour which you should know before you start designing a recipe not after.

Professional Recipe Design

In the BIABAcus help that is currently being written, three of the forums are, "Recipe Scaling," "Recipe Design" and "Beer Cloning". Professional Recipe Design does not involve much time sitting in front of software (maybe 5 minutes at most.) The more knowledge and experience you have of ingredients (and the beer style), the better recipe designer you will be.

Software will not tell you the difference between Briess US 2 row malt and Rahr US 2 row malt and that both can benefit from a protein rest. (Well it might but it certainly won't tell you which is best for the recipe you are working on.) Software won't pop up and say, you're making a lager. Did you know you can use pilsner malt for this style? It won't tell you that one variety of hops can bring out different flavours/aromas/bitterness depending on the way it is applied to the brew.

Study, tasting, experimentation and experience are the main tools of recipe design, not software. All the software will (should) do, is adjust your grain weights up and down to match your gravity and adjust your hop bill (which you have carefully worked out the ratios of) to match your IBUs.

So recipe design (and then actually brewing the recipe) for amateurs can be a lot of fun and an excellent learning experience especially if they use the approach above. In other words, go for it but be aware that your experience and knowledge are the major factors.
PistolPatch wrote:The first thing to realise is that recipes need to be designed in your head/heart/senses first, not in a computer program.

A computer program's numbers, if written very carefully, (the BIABacus is the best you will get at time of writing) will still only give you four things even slightly relating to recipe design... original gravity 'points' (volume x gravity 'points'), final gravity 'points', colour (very low importance and very poor estimates) and bitterness (let's not even go there :roll:). The BIABacus does the first better than any other software. It does all the others at least as well, usually better, than any other software but all these estimates are just estimates. The colour and bitterness formulas that all software uses, including the BIABacus, are extremely vague, often appalling.

When designing a recipe, the first thing you want to think of is, perhaps, the percentages of grains you want in your grain bill. That is what the left hand side of Section C is for. If you can't imagine, in your head, your grain bill as percentages, then you should not even be thinking of designing recipes in my view. Designing recipes is an advanced skill and depends on a lot of factors. (Btw, even if you do design a brilliant recipe, your next and far more complicated problem, if you were a commercial brewer, is working out how to replicate that recipe from week to week given the varying inputs/qualities of ingredients available.)

As for the hops, there is no great way, in brewing software of dealing with this highly complex subject. For a start, all the hop IBU estimate formulas we rely on, are primitive. Secondly, IBU's are only one part of recipe formulation. Flavour and aroma are far more important than IBU's but there are no formulas for these things. So, once again, unless you realise how vague IBU formulas are and their relative second place to flavour and aroma, in many, if not most, styles, you probably shouldn't be designing yet if that makes sense.
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Re: Biabacus recipe development

Post #3 made 2 years ago
Tony, i will keep looking for an old (3+ yrs ago) post by great names from those days in the forum (Mally, Yeasty, et al) wherein there was a good (and short) approach to recipe design using the BIABacus. In the meantime I found this: ... %9D#p42705. You will notice it is consistent with what PP said above.
After many batches, I started to think about designing a recipe - or at least modifying a new one found elsewhere that I thought had promise. Five 5 gallon batches of that same beer over the next 18 months and I thought I was getting it dialed in. Then I tasted “my” beer at a brewery where they added something else and I get to do another year of experimentation. That’s a good thing. I know that I cannot purchase what I am targetting, I have to make it. Patience.

:argh: Edited: haven't found the specific post I was looking for, but I can offer these:

1. There is the Creating Your Own Recipes topic @

2. Here’s PP again (2 yrs ago) with details @ ... ipe#p51066 How does he not get tired of providing similar answers so often???

3. and Mally has good advice (3 yrs ago) @ ... ipe#p48105

4. ... 163#p26163 is 5 years old, but is still useful.
Last edited by ShorePoints on 16 May 2018, 06:00, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Biabacus recipe development

Post #4 made 2 years ago

I appreciate the help and I finally understand after a bit more playing around with the fields. :salute: Just in case someone else is reading this and having the same the replies suggest use percentages but enter them under the gram/rations column in Section C. I was trying to enter percents under the percent column and it isn't selectable but will reflect what you entered under gram/ratios as long as you enter percents by each type of grain (i.e. 2 row pale malt 75%, crystal 20l 15%). Adding to what has already been said above, the software can't tell you how certain ingredients will affect your recipe but can give you the amounts you need to hit your numbers based on your equipment and batch size. This is exactly what I was looking for and Biabacus once again does it easily, saving me from having to do manual calculations for each recipe.

    • SVA Brewer With Over 20 Brews From United States of America

Re: Biabacus recipe development

Post #5 made 2 years ago
Yo yo yo, guys! Long time, no write :thumbs:

I am doing well and so are my beers, thanks to all of you. I've decided it's time to focus on creating my own beers so I just bought a copy of Designing Great Beers. Thanks Pat and ShorePoints for collecting this information here.
    • SVA Brewer With Over 20 Brews From United States of America
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