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Old 12-13-2012, 03:37 AM   #1
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Default Best way to calculate recipes

so i've started getting more into calculating recipes per my set up. Is there a prefered software that people are using? I've been using Beersmith, but I have found that when I enter in known recipes (say some from Brewing Classic Styles) none of the numbers match up (i.e. IBUs, SRM, so on). If I enter the same data into iBrewmaster, I will get a completely different set of numbers. I have made sure that all of my system settings are correct and true.

Is this normal to have so much fluctuation between different pieces of software?

for example. I entered the exact same recipes into Beersmith and iBrewmaster. Same boil size, boil off rates, so on and so forth in the software.

Beersmith:
OG:1.067
IBU:63.9
SRM:21.4

iBrewmaster:
OG:1.062
IBU:50.3
SRM:19.5

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Old 12-13-2012, 03:58 AM   #2
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You are correct. Brewing software sucks. No two pieces of software can agree. Plus it's a dime a dozen for brewing software... tells you how "easy" it is to put something together. Heck I wrote my own brewing software in C# and can't get my numbers to align with any other piece of software I've looked at. Even using math from common sources like 'How to Brew'.

The algorithms and formula used are slightly different for each piece of software.

Some things in brewing like SRM can never be determined exactly.

Other things like Final Gravity and ABV can only be calculated through best guess algorithms based on known variables.

Look at grain analysis sheets some time. They vary from year to year. Each software has a database of grains. Depending on what data they used each database will have slightly different numbers (fine grind/lovibond/etc...) giving you a different result.

For most things like hop bitterness, lovibond, lintner, fine grind etc... there are min/max values and of course these vary from year to year and crop to crop. Each piece of software deals with these min/max values in different ways.

Brewing is a process. Don't rely on software, it will never help you achieve a good brew.

Good brew is made by:

1.) Establishing a repeatable process.
2.) Using the simplest recipe possible.
3.) Gaining an understanding of the various ingredients contribution to your recipe (grains/yeast/hops/finings).
4.) Gaining an understanding of the various processes used in brewing (mashing/fermenting/lagering etc..)

Having said that, software is useful for tinkering around and getting an estimate, as long you have the experience to know better than to trust it.

The two things you can trust:

1.) Your experience.
2.) Your hydrometer.

If you don't have one or the other they're easy enough to come by, however, one of them can't be bought.

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Old 12-13-2012, 01:03 PM   #3
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I use this Android app called "BrewR" just to get an idea on what my recipe is going to look like.

Beyond that, I just try to focus and simplify my process.

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Old 12-13-2012, 01:06 PM   #4
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I like Beersmith 2. I figure as long as you stick with 1 you can get repeatability.

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Old 12-13-2012, 01:06 PM   #5
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I use beer alchemy for recipe formulation. It also keeps track of inventory of grains hops yeasts and adjuncts. Easily editable ingredients. Makes it easy to adjust recipes per brewing setups.

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Old 12-13-2012, 01:32 PM   #6
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Ive been using Beersmith 2 and I really like it. I'm just starting to question some of the calculations it comes up with.

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Old 12-13-2012, 01:49 PM   #7
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I use Brew Pal for iPhone and it's pretty awesome. Sure, the numbers are a bit off sometimes and it has some quirks, but overall it gets really close. Much of it has to do with the ppg, aa%, etc that is entered into the program. These numbers can vary based on malting company, hop harvest, and other things, as I'm sure you know. As long as my numbers come within the same ballpark, I'm usually happy about it. I've been able to produce two identical (to my eyes) beers using it. And I'm relatively green to brewing.

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Old 12-13-2012, 02:13 PM   #8
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I also use brew pal for iPhone. I have been dialing in my system and my process. The app lets you adjust the efficiency, losses due to trub or grain absorbstion, strike temps based on grain temp and a bunch more. It saves tho data do next brew I know my efficiency and can get the right volume and gravity. There might be some errors but I just update my settings as I go and it is getting better and better. I also save all my recipes with notes on pH as well so I can fine tune brunwater spreadsheet.

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Old 12-13-2012, 02:45 PM   #9
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I like to use a pen and paper, but I spend way to much time thinking about beer.

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Old 12-13-2012, 02:56 PM   #10
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This is why Brewmasters in commercial breweries typically have a binder or notebook full of chicken-scratch calculations & recipes.
The 3 I have worked with have all said online calculators, even yeast calculators, are worthless to them.

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