Brewing Software

Nearly the entire time I’ve been brewing I have used some sort of software to create, adjust, or just tinker with recipes. 

Sometimes the local shop I use for ingredients is out of a certain item or simply does not carry the brand I need or want, so using a piece of software to make adjustments has been invaluable. 

I started doing partial mashes and the software allowed me to enter information about my tiny mash tun and make up the rest of the fermentable sugars with extract.  Again, the software was invaluable. 

Then came the dreaded hop shortage.  Once more the software came to the rescue and allowed me to substitute hops and have it calculate the hop utilization for me. I’ve even been able to use the popular utilization formulas (Tinseth, Rager, Daniels, etc.) to see the different IBU levels they calculate.  Plus, no matter how much I studied the hop utilization formulas, laziness always took over and I let the program do the calculations for me.

Another nice aspect of using brewing software have been the ability to create and manage an inventory of ingredients.  With an inventory, I can see what I have on hand, what I use the most, and even formulate recipes from only the items I have.  Pretty neat.

I also have fun building recipes.  I like to see what mix of ingredients fits into what Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) style.  Whether or not I ever brew the recipes, it’s still fun to build them.

Now that I’ve rambled on about why I like software, I’ll tell you which ones I’ve used, what I like about them, and why.  I will link to each program’s website at the end of each section.  Also, one thing you should know is that I recently switched from a PC to a Mac so this has altered my software choices to some extent.

Beer Tools Pro
This one is slick looking but for me, hard to navigate.  I purchased this one first and was quickly overwhelmed.  I had just started brewing and I barely understood the process, so I can’t really blame the software.  Once I spent some time with it and understood more about brewing, I warmed to it and used it frequently.  When I switched to partial mash brewing, I could not figure out how to get the program to adjust for my tiny mash tun and I became frustrated.  Recently, I have used it a bit more and have figured out the settings for all-grain equipment (and thus partial mash) and I can say that I like the program.  Beer Tools Pro is priced $29.95 for either the PC or Mac version.  A very nice feature has been that the design team allowed me to switch platforms from PC to Mac for no extra charge.  Beer Tools Pro

Beersmith
This one has been my favorite.  It is was the easiest to figure out when I was still very new to brewing and has had many updates over the years to make it even better.  To me, the interface is somewhat cluttered, but not so much that one would get lost in it.  The included database of ingredients is extensive but also allows the user to easily add ingredients and variations on existing items.  It is also, I believe, the least expensive at $21.95.  The software designer hosts a forum for users to post all manner of questions, suggestions, and tips.  The designer also posts a blog that is entertaining and informative.  A downside, in my opinion, is that Beersmith is only PC-based.  Beersmith

Beer Alchemy
I’ve recently purchased this one and so far, I find it to be as powerful as Beersmith, as clean looking as Beer Tools Pro (and the same $29.95), and somewhere in between for ease of use.  I am still figuring things out with this one but I like the Suggest a Brew feature that quickly allows me to see what ingredients are needed for each recipe.  I also like the inventory tracking element showing the range of ingredients I have used in a cool chart.  It can be sorted to show only certain types of ingredients such as hops, malt, or yeast.  Pretty neat.  Beer Alchemy

There are also a couple of other software packages available, such as Pro Mash, but I have never used them so I cannot comment on them.  From reading forums around the Internet, I see Pro Mash come up often so I would say it is popular and probably worthy of checking out.

One more thing.  I think all of the packages mentioned in this article have a free trial period, so there is nothing to lose by taking one or all of them for a spin.  Even just for fun.

The Adequate Brewer

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