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Beersmith VS DIY

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fastricky

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Question for you elder statesmen (and women) of HBT:

If you're (ME) willing to use the 'ol noggin' and do your own calculations, do you really need a program like Beersmith, BTP, etc?

I kind of like doing the work myself, and know how to do the conversions I need with a pencil and paper (efficiency, lauter/sparge volumes, ABV, gravity conversions).

And I like to write out my recipes/concoctions in this old school way too.

So! What am I missing other than some shorthand?
 

wildwest450

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Certainly beer was made before beersmith, Although I don't know how.:D
I have used it for all of my all grain batches and could not brew without it. I nail my volumes, temps and og's with it. It does take some tinkering and it's not 100% on temps, but once dialed in it's deadly.

One thing I just started using is the inventory feature, it's awesome to be able to keep track of all your grains and hops and remove them after doing a recipe with a click. It also has a lot of other features that would benefit any brewer.

So yes you could do without, but I never would.
 

Edcculus

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I utilize Beersmith for a lot of things. I store all of my recipes here. I can make comments on the beer and easily tweak the recipe for future brews. I use it for conversions between units, calculating priming sugar (by weight), hydrometer adjustment, calculating attenuation and much more. Yea you can do it all by hand, but Beersmith saves me time. It helps me concentrate on brewing and not if I'm doing a formula right.

I don't use it to the full potential. If you buy inridents in bulk, you can put it all into your supplies list.
 
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fastricky

fastricky

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OK, one thing that might tip the scales for me to stick with the old-school method is I have a Mac so I'd need to use BTP. I tried the demo and it ain't intuitive to say the least. In the time it took to figure stuff out I could have worked out a number of recipes. Plus I like having that old-school knowledge so I really understand the process... so far doesn't sound like I'm missing too much (inventorying isn't a biggie to me).

But keep the replies comin'!
 

wildwest450

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I'm no mac expert, but i've read on here that beersmith will run on a mac. I think.:confused:
 

Coastarine

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I like having the ability to change my mash thickness and have my sparge volumes update. I do a LOT of recipe tweaking before I actually brew and I cannot imagine rerunning numbers every time. Even on brew day. For instance, pre boil volume comes out high, but pre boil gravity is right on. Maybe now I want to boil for 15 before I start my hop additions. Maybe now I want to reexamine my hop schedule to keep the balance. As someone who sweats the small stuff and is really into the numbers of brewing, statistical analysis, etc, beersmith is indispensable.
 

Chello

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Why not both?

Use the math first so you know exactly whats going on, then plug it into BTP to check your math and also for other features such as saving recipes, inventory, and just an all around good source for a quick reference when you realize something isn't right during a brew session.
 

Southwood

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As a former Mac user, I'd suggest BeerAlchemy. Some things software helps with is if you're getting different (better) efficiency from your process than a given recipe assumes, and if you're changing the batch size. For instance, if a recipe assumes 70% efficiency and produces 5 gallons but your process yields 85% and you want 10 gallons, a good program will automatically adjust your recipe amounts to maintain the desired outcome.
 
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fastricky

fastricky

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Coasterine and Southwood make valid points... I just wish there was an online tutorial or something because it is a bitch to figure that puppy out.

Is BeerAlchemy better/easier to figure out?
 

Southwood

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BeerAlchemy used to run a 30-day free trial, google 'em & check it out. after using the trial for a couple of weeks, it was pretty easy to spring for the whole bananna. Figuring it out seemed relatively simple.
 

AnonyBrew

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If you plan on doing your own calculations, the book "Designing Great Beers" by Ray Daniels is a fabulous resource. Well organized & written in plain english.
 

Laughing_Gnome_Invisible

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I use Beersmith because I am A) Mathless. B) Lazy C) Illiteragittimate

I will even write my gravity readings on anything that is not moving at the time. It's hopeless for organisation, and even my dog has learned to keep moving.
 

harley03

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I have started to use beersmith recently and found it to be great help when developing recipes. Before beersmith I learned to do all the calculations by hand and even hade my own spreedsheet.

With that said go for it. It is not exspensive and is a good learning tool as well.:eek:
 
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fastricky

fastricky

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Hey Harley, aside from a time-savings, do you find it really helps in your calculations or is it merely making life easier?
 

Reverend JC

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I will initially write down my thoughts on paper and then plug them into beersmith. It is handy to know how to do the calculations incase your ingridients change while at the brewery.

example: I have fuggles plugged in for my hop additions when I brew up an old porter tomorrow, but something is telling me that I do not have enough (brewery is an hour away) but i do not know the AA% of the EKGs i know I have soooooooo when i get down there with no computer i will have to use my noggin to calculate the different hops.
 

Saccharomyces

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I use BeerSmith for recipe planning and filing. On brew day I print out the sheet and write in all my calculations for mash/sparge/efficiency on the back since I have found my calculations are a lot better than BeerSmith's. He doesn't know my equipment as well as I do! ;)
 
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fastricky

fastricky

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Yes it will... but I hate it!

I'm getting great accuracy and hitting my numbers pretty reliably doing it myself... I guess if it ain't broken, don't fix it.
 

SpanishCastleAle

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If you plan on doing your own calculations, the book "Designing Great Beers" by Ray Daniels is a fabulous resource. Well organized & written in plain english.
I bought that book when it first came out and wrote an Excel Full Recipe spreadsheet for full recipe calculation based on it. I think it's still in Excel '95 format.:eek: I've tried some online recipe calculators and I prefer using my spreadsheet (creature of habit).

But I haven't tried most of the brewing software...I'm sure some of it works very well. I'm just accustomed to my spreadsheet and I hit my numbers closer using my spreadsheet (compared to some online calculators).

I don't know how the other programs do it but I want to enter in my own 'extract potential' and color values for each malt I use. I think some programs use incorrect values there (for example, Tastybrew has the same extract value for corn sugar and cane sugar...which can't be right).

I also have seperate home made spreadsheets for a Mash Temperature Calculator (strike/infusion/decoction temps) and Water Volume Calculator (total/mash/sparge/final volumes).

It's all very simple calculations that anybody can do. I think learning the in/outs of such a program is a learning experience but if you already have a pretty good idea about all that and don't want to write a program/spreadsheet then I can see just using available software. If I didn't have my spreadsheet I'm sure I'd just use something available.:)
 

Belmont

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You can definitely run PC software on a Mac. mmb pointed out some options. I use VMWare Fusion but have used Parallels in the past. I haven't tried WINE but have heard that it works well. If you like doing it on paper keep doing it that way.

Brewtility.com is another online resource.

I am working on an iPhone application and plan to convert it to Mac OS X when I'm done. Then I'll do a Windows version. This could take a while though because I'm only working on it in my spare time. With 3 kids and an insane amount of brewing there isn't a lot of spare time to work on this project but I'll get it done because I want to make one work the way I think it should.
 
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fastricky

fastricky

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I work on my Mac a lot (it is what I do as a designer). So I'm familiar with programs and such quite a bit.

But BTP is frustrating to me because it isn't easy to use. That annoys me pronto. And as mentioned a few posts back, doing all these calculations isn't hard once you're familiar with them. I like tailoring a recipe myself and being totally accountable I guess... plus there are enough online calculators for the little things I'm don't want to do that I'm covered there... hey, one man's opinion is all y'all!

The iPhone app is a very cool idea!
 

Kungpaodog

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Sounds like you are doing well with pen and paper, and it sounds like you aren't as disorganized as me, but if you are anything like me then having a brew program to punch numbers into and instantly spit out gravities, IBUs, priming sugars, and to keep a nice neat record of all past batches is deep fried gold (go watch Spaced if you don't get the reference).
 

Medo

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Ahoy hoy,
Im an apple certified tech, and carry a macbook pro due to the nature of my work. I have beersmith on it. I have VM Fusion installed which lets you run windows quite perfectly on the mac, at the same time as your running OSX. Since our school district is 80% mac, 20% pc, we have had to deal with windows on mac emulator software for years. Most of it was bunk. The best so far, and what we use now, is Fusion. It can also run linux as well if you need it. My pc is in my tech room, and it would be a pain to run back and forth from it to the brewsite, so I have beersmith on the laptop, so it can be right there with me.
Unfortunately, the above solution, and all like it, are not free. You have to buy fusion, then legally, you should buy a new copy of windows to install.
This is FYI more then anything else.
A great day to you all.....
 

Bopper

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I checked... it won't. :(
Try Beer Alchemy. I run a Mac and used the demo version for a while. I'm a partial mash brewer so I really don't need software but it seems to be pretty good
 

Chupacabras

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I bought Beer Alchemy. Excellent product, waaaaay easier to use than BTP. If you're using a Mac it's the best one that runs natively. I much prefer it to Promash, which was what I was using on my old PC.
 

bferullo

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I'm no mac expert, but i've read on here that beersmith will run on a mac. I think.:confused:
It will run on a MAC...you just need to run virtual PC. I hate MACS, so i can't really explain any furhter. I did see this though on BeerSmith's message boards.
 

Quaffer

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OK, one thing that might tip the scales for me to stick with the old-school method is I have a Mac so I'd need to use BTP. I tried the demo and it ain't intuitive to say the least. In the time it took to figure stuff out I could have worked out a number of recipes. Plus I like having that old-school knowledge so I really understand the process... so far doesn't sound like I'm missing too much (inventorying isn't a biggie to me).

But keep the replies comin'!
I ended up buying BTP. It has got a learning curve, yes, but after that it makes planning recipes very easy. I needed to tune the grain water absorption ratio and calibrate the vessels, after that it gets me real close to targets, although my mash tun holds temperature better than predicted. I wouldn't be without it now.

Have you tried to compare your manual method to the software results? I did and I find that there must be more going on under the hood than first meets the eye. My efficiency results were off by several percent compared to the software. I think that all volumes of water is referred to 60 F temperature in BTP. IMHO, recalculating water volumes at different temperatures is just more bother than it is worth for the paper-and-pencil method. (By the way, weighing the water, like professional bakers do, is far superior to measuring). Perhaps other things are going on in BTP too, I am sure that these guys have been thinking through the process in detail.

The paper-and-pencil method keeps you aware of what is going on and not just blindly trust the software. If you hit you targets yourself and don't mind spending the time doing it, more power to you. Most people are not able/willing to do it themselves.
 

KYB

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I know this is an old thread, but can't BeerSmith run through Wine on a Mac? It can on Linux just fine.
 
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