Beer Tools... what is not to like?

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SavageSteve

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I have it and I like it a lot, although it lacks some significant features like an inventory, session recording, and the ability to time your fermentable additions. I only do extract recipes with the occasional partial mash, so I can't speak for what the software has/lacks for all-grain brewers.

The interface is very good and recipe formulation is a snap. I'm very much looking forward to testing the new beta, hopefully due soon.

My 2 cents.
 
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The Pol

The Pol

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I appreciate your response! It LOOKS great... basically what matters to me is this.

*Recipe formulation
*Mash scheduling
*Water calculations
*Water profiling
*Mash volumes
*INGREDIENTS!!!!

Does it have an option to print your brew stats?
 

jdoiv

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I have it, but don't use it because of the lack of inventory. There are some good recipes online though and that is cool. Also the lack of sessions was a big turn off. I haven't used it for the water or mash scheduling though, so don't know how well they work. I basically use it to get recipes.
 

SavageSteve

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I went through BeerTools Pro to try and answer your questions:

Recipe formulation: I like it... It has a pretty good ingredient database (grains, extracts, adjuncts, hops, yeast, and special ingredients), plus you can add your own ingredients. I like the visual representation of the critical specs (OG, FG, Color, Alcohol %, and Bitterness) and where they lie in relation to the BJCP guidelines for the style. Scaling is easy, as well as turning on/off ingredients to see how they affect the end product-- good for "what if" scenarios.

Mash scheduling: Looks pretty comprehensive, but I'm not an all-grainer. You basically create a schedule by adding whatever steps you want and it graphs them out. It also has presets for single-step and double-step infusions.

Water calculations: It has a tool to let you do water calculations. Not something I do either, but looks pretty comprehensive. It has a database of waters from around the world and mineral salts, and you can add your own.

Water profiling: Not sure what you mean, but you can add your own water to the database and type in the specs.

Mash volumes: Combined with the mash scheduling.

Ingredients: Like I said, it has a pretty good ingredient database (e.g. Extra Light Extract from MoreBeer), and you can add your own.

Printing looks nice (again, not a feature I use). It prints out the ingredients and timing, stats with style comparison, and the mash schedule.

I'd be more than happy to take screen shots if you'd like to see any of these features in more detail... just let me know.
 

ohiobrewtus

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What's wrong with Beer Tools Pro?

It's not BeerSmith.

If you want to speak to someone who can really lay out all of the differences between BTP and BeerSmith, hope that Bobby_M chimes in on this thread.
 
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The Pol

The Pol

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I used the trial of Beer Smith and it seemed really out dated... it seemed clumsy. Id love some screen shots of Beer Tools Pro... it may give me the extra info about what is available in the program. I love being able to just select a recipe and page through all of the tabs. I like the Microsoft "Windows" look to it.

I dont like that Beer Smith seems to have no integration from page to page. When I set up a recipe and a mash schedule, when I go to the water needed page it does not know how much mash water I am using, how much grain I am using etc... I have to enter all of that information again. I love the programs where when I enter another pound of grain, it updated every facet of the program (mash schedules, water needed, infusion temps etc) The water profiler on Beer Smith is not automated, I have to "guess" at what salts and in what ammounts I need to add and get it right using trial and error. The mash calculator has no option for fly sparge. It just seems clumsy. It also does not have many water profiles to choose from, and even if it did, I cannot use it to calculate my salts, it is only trial and error.

Basically all the items that I listed, are the things that I desire to have, and it appears to have them all. If you can get me some screen shots, Id appreciate it. If there are AG recipes that you could pull up so that I could see the associated screen shots, that woud be awesome too. Thanks for the responses.
 

rdwj

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I love Beer Tools Pro. You can do sessions by saving with different numbers or keep your differences in the notes - no big deal.

I suppose an inventory would be nice, but it doesn't bother me that it's not there.

For creating recipes, and that's my main reason to have a program, I haven't seen anything better
 
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The Pol

The Pol

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Yah, I dont care about inventory... I dont have one to begin with! I can see the one pound of hops in my freezer, and the grain is at the LHBS. Thanks for your opinion.:rockin:
 

Bobby_M

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Inventory is the big failure. If you don't care about it, then you won't find it bad. I just used a Beersmith enough times to appreciate it even when my inventory was lacking. I have at least 15 different specialty grains in the garage fridge, but then again, maybe I don't. BTP won't tell me. I'm too lazy to keep a separate file somewhere and I shouldn't have to. If you create a recipe in beersmith, it prints you a shopping list for the items you don't have in inventory. You can plan out your next few batches in advance and you'll know what you'll need to buy so you don't run out.

The other gripe I have is the lack of even a few decent mash schedule presets. Um, there's no "batch sparge" preset, not even one. It's like they don't acknowledge it exists.

I also think it would be nicer to have all the tasks laid out in a single screen that's scrollable instead of having to grab a drop down to swap between the ingredients and schedule. Awkward.

But, it's only $25 to trial. A new release is promised this year to include a few of these things.
 

shmevinator

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I use Beer Tools and it works for me. I don't need an inventory either (LHBS is 15min away).

As for what it lacking besides inventory, no, the program cannot account for the late extract addition, so if you are an extract brewer that uses this method your IBUs will probably be off. And for all grain, as Bobby M said, there isn't a batch sparge preset. However, if you go through the BTP help forum, some users have been gracious enough to share their custom batch sparge presets. All you have to do is download what they did and mimic that in your template, and just load the template when you start a new recipe.

I don't have any experience with other programs, but Beer Tools seems to have a good database of everything and is pretty intuitive. There are occasional minor oddities with it (probably minor programming bugs) but nothing too major.
 

Dude

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Bobby_M said:
The other gripe I have is the lack of even a few decent mash schedule presets. Um, there's no "batch sparge" preset, not even one. It's like they don't acknowledge it exists.

.
The BTP wiki had a batch sparge file that you could use as a baseline.

If you want the file, I can e-mail it to you. I'm sure it is still available on the wiki site though.

I like BTP a lot. It is pretty, fairly easy to learn, and the tech support is awesome. It does seem a bit quirky and clumsy for new users though, I'd agree.
 
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The Pol

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I fly sparge, so batch sparging presets are not of a high concern.

Why isnt this in the software forum? Boohoo, I didnt know one existed. My bad
 

Bobby_M

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It seems to me though, as long as we're talking about the application and its shortcomings, we might as well speak about them generally. There's going to be a large number of batch spargers who find having to do workarounds and ask for other's templates a bit tedious for something they just paid for. I feel the same way about the inventory feature. I feel like it should have been included in the earlier releases and I'm not just saying that because I personally find that feature useful. Just because the LHBS is close doesn't mean you wouldn't benefit from stocking a few things and managing that aspect of brewing in your recipe calculating software. Are you still thrilled with buying hops by the ounce now? I know "OT". If you've ever used beersmith's inventory feature and actually had a few things on hand, you begin to appreciate its effectiveness right away.

I do use BTP and like it enough to stick with it but only because of the promised update this year. If they don't come through, I'll be disappointed.
 

GilaMinumBeer

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When I tried BTP it was new, I think I was the 100th person to buy it as there was no trial. It looked great and was easy to read but, at the time forum support was the ONLY manual and it's features were seriously limiting compared to ProMash at the time. What put me off about the software was that there were a lot of equipment variables that had to be set to get it to calc right and little to no information about how or why they should be set.


The only thing I really liked about it at the time was the quick response from support and the rapid inclusion of desired features. I however, gave up on BTP and went with ProMash which is now the most out of date but still comprehensive, IMO.

And then BeerSmith issued a new release with lots of nice new features and I was floored. I continue to use BeerSmith and I am happy with it. The interface is not as nice but after a while you get used to it. The brewsheet, inventory, and calendar features are my favorites. The only thing I am not too crazy about is the ingredient db's, I think their could be a better way to link to the individual db's available rather than having to cut and paste what you want.
 

Bobby_M

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Let's talk about a couple other quirks with BTP. Lack of intuitive function of buttons!! Ok, even if they're not intuitive you'd expect a user manual or "quick help" when you mouseover controls "check this box to xyz" or "set this to the number of gallons blah blah blah".

For batch sparging, you add a new separation to the schedule and increment that by pressing the + button to add new batch infusions and runnings. It lists a "total runoff" based on this series of infusions and drainings. Do you know how long it took me to realize that hitting the "lock" button next to this number is how you make sure it tracks with the total desired preboil volume on the main screen? One would intuitively think this "LOCKS" the volume that you enter in this box.

Another really hard thing to figure out without spending a lot of time playing with it is how to scale a recipe based on your known efficiency or a different desired finished batch volume. I know how to do it now, but the built in documentation is pathetic here too.

When you change the overall volumes in the main pane and the sparge runoff volume is locked, why does it assume you will leave any residual volume in the MLT after each running? Sometimes is shows negative residual which is impossible. It would be nice if you can just lock the residuals at zero.

I'm probably nit picking but I'm just airing out some of the frustrations that you come to have after using it for a while.
 

GilaMinumBeer

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Do you have BeerSmith B_M?

The latest release totally blows everything away, IMO. I don't think the trial incorporates the new features of the latest release tho'.
 

Bobby_M

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I had the trial prior to the last release. I just feel like I don't want to keep wavering back and forth. I do feel like BTP will be up to par on the next major release but it really might just be wishful thinking.

One of the problems with asking someone which is better is that no one really has the time or desire to use them all long enough to figure out the nuances. It ends up being a test of which software has the best first impression or how you feel a cursory run on an alternate package stacks up to the one you're most used to.
 

GilaMinumBeer

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Meh. When I was actively searching for software I did buy all 3 and have wavered since.

BTP just wasn't mature enough at the time. BeerSmith returned a result that didn't match a brew I had wher PM did so PM stuck. Since then I have had some issues with PM (liitle stuff) and had read about newer improved feature in BeerSmith. I downloaded the update out of curiosity and the new features floored me. So now that has stuck.

Mind you at the time, my inventories were low as were my recipe folders. If I was faced with switching again now, the new platform had better be mountains above the rest.
 

SavageSteve

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As promised, here are some screen shots of BTP. I totally fudged the water chemistry window because I'm not really into that yet, so don't flip out if it looks like I don't know what I'm doing :)

Recipe formulation:
ingredients.gif

Mash Schedule (Single step infusion preset)
mash.gif

Water Chemistry
water.gif

Ingredients Database - Grains
grains.gif

Ingredients Database - Hops
hops.gif

That is all-- hope this helps.
 
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The Pol

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Cool, thanks, I like what I see
 

Jonnio

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I like those screen shots as well, but I am currently doing extract with late additions. Beer Smith allows those and it seems silly to try and formulate a recipe without being able to calculate your ratios of first addition/late addition and what that does to your IBU
 
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The Pol

The Pol

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HOW DO YOU set up a fly sparge with BTP 1.5??
 
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