“Go-To” Homebrew Recipe

Do you have that one “go-to” homebrewing recipe? When the creative wheels just aren’t spinning, is there that one recipe that gives you a great brew each and every time you go back to the well? For most homebrewers, the answer is yes.

For me, that recipe is actually the recipe I used to brew my very first homebrew, and I’ve used it countless times since as a great fill-in or as a starter to a more complex beer.

Culver City Home Brew SupplyThis recipe comes from my old local homebrew store, which just so happens to be the greatest homebrew supply store in the Los Angeles area. Culver City Home Brew Supply is a small store with a big heart. The management and staff make you feel welcome from the first visit. They have a great supply of ingredients and products, and will help you find what you’re looking for if they don’t have it in stock. In such a big city like LA, Culver City Home Brew Supply felt like a small town shop with a great community feel.  I definitely miss having the CCHBS as my local homebrew supply store!

As for the recipe, it’s a classic dark ale recipe with enough flavor that pushes it past a brown ale and into the porter category. The smokiness and oak flavor from the little bit of black barley give this beer a great, easily drinkable quality. It can also serve as a good base for a more complex beer, as I’ve added things like hazelnuts, coffee, and chocolate to this recipe with great success.

I’d love to get some of your favorite “go-to” recipes, so leave a link to them in the comments section if you have one. Hope you enjoy!

Playa Porter

Malt Extract:
Dark 6 lbs.
Grain Bill:
American Chocolate Malt 4 oz
Crystal 120 4 oz
Crystal 10 4 oz
Black Barley 2 oz
Hopping Schedule:
#1 Cascade (4.6%) 1.4 oz 60 min
#2 Willamette 0.4 oz 0 min
Starting Gravity:
Fermentation Temp:
65-75 degrees F.
Wyeast 1028 London Ale
or White Labs WLP002 English Ale
or White Labs WLP001 California Ale
or Wyeast 1056 American Ale


A rich, dark brown but smooth ale. Medium body and hoppiness. The use of high roasted malt give this beer its dark color and roasty flavor. A good beer for meals.


  1. In a small pot bring 3 or 4 quarts of water to around 150 degrees (bubbles start to form on the bottom.)
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the specialty grains, cover and steep for 20-30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, fill the large brew pot half full with water and apply heat.
  4. When bubbles start to rise from the large pot, turn off the heat and stir in the extract.
  5. After the grains have steeped for 20-30 minutes, pour them through a strainer into the large brew pot.
  6. Add some hot water to the small pot and rinse the grains in the strainer.
  7. Bring what is now called ‘wort’ to a full, roiling boil. Watch for boilovers!
  8. Once the foaming stops, add the contents of the first hop package.
  9. Sanitize your fermenter, strainer, airlock & stopper.
  10. Maintain the boil for one hour, adding hops as per recipe.
  11. When the boil is done, cool the pot in a sink until sides are cool to the touch.
  12. Pour the wort into your sanitized fermenter, add pre-chilled water to bring it up to 5 gallons at about 75 degrees and pitch the yeast.
  13. Ferment in the temperature range recommended above.

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