Today I want to talk about a program for beer recipes that I met a few nights ago (thanks to James, editor of the Instagram page HomebrewingExperience, that I suggest you follow).
The program is called BrewFather and is an online app, so it’s compatible with any devices and is used directly on the cloud. Just go to the website brewfather.app and click GET STARTED to access the login page, from which you can sign-up or authenticate by using FACEBOOK or GOOGLE account. On mobile devices (at least on Android phone that I tested), once logged in, you’ll be asked if you want to create a shortcut to the program on the home. Once you accepted, you will have the opportunity to access the program like a real app, instead of like a website (much more easyer and faster).
The screen is simple and intuitive and the program is very reminiscent BeerSmith , but managed to stay leaner and immediate, by integrating (as we shall see) a few options more with less “old interface”. As mentioned, will not need to buy separate mobile version since it runs from the cloud, then on phone and tablet you’ll have exactly what you have on a PC or Mac (not as BeerSmith, where we have many less functions on mobile version, sold separately).
BrewFather can be used with two different subscription plans:
The FREE version is completely free and allows you to store up to 10 recipes and 10 batches (see later what that is), but in this case it is not possible to import and export, so the recipes remains in the cloud and will not be downloaded or uploaded.
The Premium version costs $ 1.99 per month, or $ 19.99 per year. It allows import and export of recipes (also from BeerSmith and many other programs, since it supports the BeerXML format) and allowing to an UNLIMITED number.
From the time of registration, the first month of PREMIUM account is free , it is then possible to test the app before the buying.
The first thing to do is to go to SETTINGS , where we’ll find the main program options. What I recommend is to leave everything as it is, since the program is already set with metric measurements, the degrees Centigrade, the color in the EBC, the formula for calculating the IBU in Tinseth and everything as it should to be.
At the section UTILITY we find something very interesting. it’s in fact possible, if we are holders of a compatible device, to enable the reading function of temperature and density, which will create a chart within the section BATCHES of the recipe, as we will see shortly. In this section we can enable TILT , iSpindel or BrewPiLess.
For the TILT simply paste the Clour URL into the field Enter Logging URL that we’ll find in the app for Android or iPhone and select the flag Check here to start logging data to the Cloud .
In this way, every time we will perform a TILT reading with mobile phone, automatically the data (temperature and density) will be posted to the Cloud and Brewfather will create a graph on the page BATCHES of the recipe which is associated with the device.
With the TILT it is also possible to load a simple program of Raspberry Pi and maintain a continuous read and upload data wirelessly.
I do not know iSpindel and BrewPiLess, but I think the settings are similar.
Here’s an example of fermentation carried out using the TILT integration:
Similarly to BeerSmith, here are four subsections: Equipment , Mash , Fermentation and Water .
This is the section where we will outline the characteristics of our Equipment. We find many preset profiles, including Grainfather , HopCat / BrewMonk 50L and Spiedel Braumeister.
We can select one of the profiles already filled, or create a new one (by clicking + ADD PROFILE ).
In NAME is obviously goes the name of the equipment.
BOIL TIME is the boiling time.
in BATCH VOLUME TARGET you can select FERMENTER if in the box BATCH VOLUME you want to specify the volume that will end up in the fermenter or KETTLE if you want to enter the volume that will be in the pot at the end of boiling.
If we select the flag CALC BOIL VOLUME, the program will automatically calculate the PRE-BOIL VOLUME, the liters in the pot before boiling (otherwise you can deselect and enter them manually).
BOIL-OFF is the amount of liters that evaporate per hour of boiling (L / Hour), depending on this value, the program calculates the previous data (if we checked CALC BOIL VOLUME ).
TRUB CHILLER / LOSS are losses that remain in the pot when it goes into the fermenter, and then the trub and the wort which remains in an eventual cooling system type plate heat exchanger or counterflow.
MASH-TUN DEADSPACE is the wort which remains in the space “dead” (usually at the bottom of any filter or basket), but that is put into circulation or otherwise recovered (recoverable) and put to boiling together with the rest of the wort.
In the case of All In One equipments as my BrewMonster, I put the liters that are below the basket.
MASH-TUN LOSS are any losses that remain in the pot of mash (liters that are NOT be recovered and NOT brought to the boil, but that remains in the pot and is thrown away).
HLT DEADSPACE is any dead space in the sparge pot. For example, if we use a sparge pot that have the tap that is not in the very bottom, here we can set the liters that are not used. The program will add them to the sparge volume.
FERMENTER LOSS are obviously the losses in the fermenter, usually it is the yeast fund that is lost during transfers.
BREWHOUSE EFFICIENCY is obviously the value of the equipment efficiency.
MASH EFFICIENCY is the efficiency of mash, which is calculated automatically if you check the box CALC MASH EFFICIENCY .
HOP UTILIZATION is a value that is usually left to 100% (perhaps can be lowered if you are using hop-spider particularly inefficient? I do not know, I leave it to 100, as well as the developer suggests).
AROMA HOP UTILIZATION is calculated automatically if you check the box CALC HOP AROMA UTILIZATION and it’s the efficiency of 0 minutes hops (hop-stand/whirpool).
HOPSTAND TEMPERATURE is the temperature at which the hop-stand hops is inserted. By varying this value (and the HOP UTILIZATION ) the program calculates the AROMA HOP UTILIZATION if the box CALC AROMA HOP UTILIZATION is checked.
GRAIN ABSORPTION RATE is the ratio of water that remains soaked in the grains.
WATER / GRAIN RATIO is the water / grain ratio that we want in the recipe, and then how many liters of water per kilo of grains (usually from 2.5 to 3.2 depending on the equipment or style).
in MASH FORMULA WATER and SPARGE WATER FORMULA it is possible to change the formulas that the program uses to calculate the amount of mash and sparge water (my advice is to leave it as it is, unless you know what you do). Under these two formulas are the names of all the variables that can be inserted in the two fields.
Interesting is the field SET NO SPARGE FORMULAS , which allows to automatically change the previous formulas to make a no-sparge recipe (if we want all the water in the mash).
RESET FORMULAS allows you to reset the formulas to the recommended standard value.
MASH WATER LIMITS allows you to set the maximum limit ( MAX ) and minimum ( MIN ) of your pot (useful, for example, on a system like my BrewMonster, where the overflow pipe does not reach the edge of the pan, but it stops below, approximately 45 liters instead of 50 of maximum capacity).
INCLUDES GRAIN VOLUME IN MASH LIMITS is a flag that, if checked, it also includes the volume of the grains in the calculation of the equipment limits.
SPARGE WATER LIMIT similarly allows to select the maximum limit ( MAX ) capacity of the sparge pot.
CALC STRIKE WATER TEMPERATURE is a flag that, if selected, tells the program to automatically calculate the temperature at which bring the water prior to insert the grains (which of course will then lower it to once inserted).
MASH-TUN HEAT CAPACITY includes the values for its pot, it should be calculated to the section TOOLS -> MASH TUN-CALIBRATION .
SPARGE TEMPERATURES is obviously the sparge water temperature that we will use.
Once we have finished editing all the values that we are interested to change, we can save the equipment by pressing SAVE, we can also set it as the preferred system (so that it will automatically be charged to the addition of each new recipe) by simply clicking the STAR (Set as default) in the top right.
Here we can click + ADD PROFILE if we want to create a new profile, or we can select an existing one that we want to change.
PROFILE NAME is the name we give our mash profile (eg “65 degrees Monostep”).
STEP 1 is obviously the first step of mash, to which we give the name to the box NAME (eg “Protein Rest”)
In TYPE we put the kind of step, choosing from TEMPERATURE , DECOCTION or INFUSION.
In TEMP we choose the step temperature.
TIME is the time (in minutes) of the step.
RAMP TIME is the time (in minutes) of the ramp to get in step.
Once completed compiling the first step, we can add more with the green button + ADD STEP
By following the above guide we can fit all of the following fields step and then, when finished, we can click the button SAVE to save the mash profile.
You can also set a profile as a favorite by clicking the STAR (similar to the equipment, it will be the default profile loaded on new recipes).
Even the fermentation profile allows you to enter the name in the box PROFILE NAME (eg “Ale 18->20 degrees”).
in STEP 1 we can set in TYPE the fermentation phase ( PRIMARY , SECONDARY , TERTIARY , COLD-CRASH , CARBONATION and CONDITIONING ).
in TEMP the temperature
and in DAYS the step lenght.
Then we can add another step with the green button + ADD STEP , save with SAVE and select your preferred profile, always by clicking the STAR .
In WATER it is possible to insert the starting water profile or the arrival profile (after the addition of salts), which we are allowied to use (or change) in the recipe.
In PROFILE NAME You can enter the name (for example “BASE WATER”)
in TYPE we select if the profile we are entering is the starting water profile ( SOURCE ) or arrival after the addition of salts ( TARGET ).
Then we have to choose all the water values, including WATER pH and any amount (in ppm) of various types of salts.
The interesting thing (especially for the target water) is that the program returns us immediately the calculation of sulphates/chlorides ratio (SO4 / CL RATIO) , the hardness ( HARDNESS ), alkalinity ( ALKALINITY ) and residual alkalinity ( RESIDUAL ALKALINITY ).
This section includes a list of styles, including both the BJCP and BREWERS ASSOCIATION. For each one, it shows the detailed description and all of the recommended values, with a glass that visually delineate the color minimum, average and maximum for the style.
In TOOLS we have a number of instruments that may be useful in certain cases, during the mash, fermentation, bottling etc. Some are very intuitive, others less so, but let’s see them quickly in detail:
ALCOHOL / ATTENUATION / CALORIES – It simply help to calculate, according to the recipe OG and FG , the amount of alcohol developed, attenuation, and the calories that we will have in our beer. It is used at the end of fermentation, when we have a stable FG.
YEAST PITCH RATE / YEAST STARTER – It’s an interesting tool and is used to calculate how many packets of yeast are needed to ferment your beer. If you use the tool during the writing of the recipe, the program automatically loads the values of the OG and VOLUME , otherwise they have to be inserted by hand. PITCH RATE is a very interesting value, and in fact allows to vary the pitching-rate at will, even if the program recommended standard values depending on the beer OG. In BILLION CELLS FOR PKG you must enter how many cells are theorically in the package. PUREPITCH is a registered trademark of WHITE LABS, refers to a process by which are produced their envelopes and which guarantees a greater vitality, if you use sachets White Labs Purepitch is recommended to select it. MANUFACTURING DATE refers to the date of yeast enveloping. VIABILITY is automatically calculated by the program according to the above values, but can be changed manually. in TARGET PITCH we value the cells needed to ferment the wort and in YEAST TO USE the number of envelopes of yeast that we habe to inoculate if we don’t intend to do a starter. On the right side we find the section STARTER, where we can select the number of envelopes ( START PACKAGES ) we are using (obviously the conditions of the envelope are those that we have entered on the left side), if we use magnetic stirrer ( STIR ) or not ( NO STIR ) and the wort gravity of starter ( STARTER GRAVITY ). The program will automatically calculate (if we select the flag CALC ) or not (if it’s deselected) the amount of wort necessary and return all the final values, including dry extract values ( DRY MALT EXTRACT) or liquid ( LIQUID MALT EXTRACT ) to be used along with liters of water calculated (or manually entered) above.
REFRACTOMETER/BRIX – Allows you to convert the value of Brix read in refractometer ( BRIX WRI ) in density ( SG ). It ‘also possible to make the correction of the density of a fermenting must, by checking the flag FERMENTED WORT. In this case, of course, you must also enter the OG . Lastly, it allows to calculate the correction value of our refractometer ( CORRECTION FACTOR ) checking CALIBRATE REFRACTOMETER. In this case, simply take a sample of must or water, read and insert the two values. The program will automatically return the correct correction factor and place it in the appropriate field.
GRAVITY CORRECTION – useful when we need to correct the density of our must (eg when in pre-boil we have a much lower or much higher value than hoped). If we insert the current density ( CURRENT GRAVITY ), the theoretical density we want to achieve ( WANTED GRAVITY ) and liters of must ( CURRENT VOLUME), The program will return, in the case of OG lower than the target, the amount of extract to be added or alternatively the number of liters of water to boil off. If we are above than the target, it simply calculate the amount of water to add. In case you want to boil the wort for more time to increase the density, it is also possible to calculate for how long, by checking on CALCULATE BOIL CORRECTION and inserting the remaining minutes of boiling ( REMAINING BOIL DURATION ).
HYDROMETER TEMPERATURE CORRECTION – Simply makes the conversion of the density value read on the hydrometer ( MEASURED GRAVITY ) at a given temperature ( TEMPERATURE ), and returns the correct value ( SG ) calculated according to the instrument’s calibration temperature (CALIBRATION TEMP ).
CARBONATION – It’s the tool for priming and we’ll find a link also on the recipe creation page. After selecting the style ( BEER STYLE ), the program will return the range of carbonation within which it is recommended to stay. Once you have chosen the value ( VOLUMES CO2 ), we will have to enter how many liters we need to bottle ( BOTTLING VOLUME ), the fermentation peak temperature ( PEAK FERMENTATION TEMP ) and the program will return the amount of sugar ( TABLE SUGAR ) or dextrose (CORN SUGAR ) that we will use in carbonation.
To better understand the part about the fermentation peak read my guide to priming .
COLOR CONVERTER – It ‘a color conversion tool. It converts between EBC ,LOVIBOND and SRM .
This section allows to manage the raw materials present in the app (adding databases, edit and delete at will), and what it is in our inventory, allowing us to keep an eye on the amount of malts, hops and yeast present in storage, without having to go and check.
It works basically in a manner similar to the previous sections, I will not go into the details of each raw material, but to add to the inventory items simply select it and change the first entry ( INVENTORY ) by inserting the amount we have in storage.
To add new objects just press + ADD bottom right and fill the table with all the features.
Within each section, it’s always possible to click the button in the upper right with 3 boxes put on stack ( INVENTORY ONLY ), in order to display only the raw materials present in the warehouse.
In each added object is also a NOTES box, where we can write what we want. An interesting idea is to insert, for example, the date of expiration for the malts, or the year of harvest for hops, etc.
We finally arrive at the cornerstone of the program, the creation of the recipe. Clicking the + at the top right we can enter a new recipe with the down arrow we can import one (supported formats are Brewfather JSON and BeerXML, universal format that almost all recipes programs, including BeerSmith, adopt already from years).
Suppose you want to create a new recipe, once entered in the new window the first thing to do is check that the preferred PROFILES is loaded correctly ( EQUIPMENT ), otherwise we can change it by selecting it from those already created with CHANGE or change details with EDIT .
Now we can enter the new beer NAME , the type of technique ( ALL-GRAIN , PARTIAL MASH or EXTRACT ) and choose the style (among those present) in STYLE (the open book icon SELECT GUIDELINES allows us to choose the guidelines to be loaded, such as the version of the BJCP etc.).
Now we turn to fermentable ( FERMENTABLES ). Clicking + ADD , you can write the name of the malt into the search box and then select it from the menu to insert it in the recipe. Once you find the malt must choose how many grams to insert in the box AMOUNT . Once you finished the insertion of malts is possible to click on OG to automatically calculate the amount of malts in the recipe (maintaining the proportions, modifiable with the % ) to reach the determined value of the initial density.
I personally always prefer to work on percentages rather than on the weight, then insert 1 symbolic kilo of each malt I want in the recipe, then I click % and choose the appropriate percentages, then I click OG and I do calculate the amount depending on the density that I want to get . I never understood the meaning of work in weights, cause i think that it’s the program having to calculate how much malt I enter, not me!
In MISC we can put spices and other additions, such as coriander, oak chips for maturation or Irish moss. The section works similarly to the previous one, once we found or created what we want to add, the only thing to do is to enter the amount (in this case there is also allowed to choose the unit of measurement, including “teaspoon” – tsp or “package” – pkg etc., useful in certain cases).
In HOPS, obviously, we can add the hops. We can choose the shape ( PELLET , WHOLE or CRYO ), the amount in grams or grams / liter ( AMOUNT ), the time ( TIME ) and the type of use ( USE ). In case of HOPSTAND it’s also possible to select the whirpool temperature.
In YEAST you can enter the yeast, by clicking the symbol of the calculator ( CALC ) you can open the calculation page for the starter (described above in section TOOLS ).
MASH PROFILE allows us to choose between one of the created profiles. Default will load what we’ve chosen as preferred, but can be changed with CHANGE and choose it from the list of existing ones or edit it with EDIT .
Even the section FERMENTATION PROFILE works exactly like the previous one.
The button FINAL GRAVITY allows you to enter a FG estimated value different from the default one that calculates the program, I would leave it as it is.
In CARBONATION you can choose the carbonation value ( Volumes CO2 ) required (in green the recommended range for the chosen style).
The button CALC with the icon of the blue calculator opens a new window, full of interesting content. Let’s see it in detail.
First you must check that the malts ( GRAINS ) inserted in the recipe have been cataloged in the right way (for example, a Pilsner or Pale Ale is inserted as Base (Pilsner) or Base, Crystal 50 as a Crystal/Caramel etc.).
Then we find the liters of mash and Spreads ( VOLUMES ) that are editable.
WARNING! These two values, if changed, will modify only the gallons of this water table, NOT the liters of the recipe, which instead are only modified by varying the water/grain ratio of the tab EQUIPMENT, so I highly recommend you let them stay as they are for not risk doing mistakes.
Now we come to the real water calculator.
In SOURCE we select our starting water (our “favorite” is selected by default).
In TARGET PROFILE we choose the profile to which we want to arrive.
Interesting function STYLE , where we can select the style of beer that we are creating and will be returned the range of recommended values (in red if we are out in the green if you’re in).
In the section below we can manually enter the values of the salts we want to add, or click the button AUTO to automatically calculate the program the right additions to reach the target. With RESET obviously the additions are cancelled.
Below are the values of salts that we have reached with the additions (of course is not always possible to precisely reach the target profile, so it is always good to check, even if the program algorithm usually already makes the best addition possible).
By activating the SPARGE button, we’ll enable sparge water additions too.
the next two buttons, ACID ( MASH and SPARGE ) serve to make the program calculate the amount of lactic acid to be added to the two phases to get to the desired target pH.
Also interesting is the options (button SETTINGS ) in the upper right, which allows to enable or disable (we can also choose if only for mash, also sparge or automatically) the various salts. Useful, for example, if we do not own a type of salt or if we don’t want to use it.
We have finished with the water additions tab. Close and exit.
In the box TAGS you can enter the recipe tags, useful for finding a particular recipe among many inserted.
in NOTES we find a field in which we can freely write notes about the current recipe.
Once finished the recipe, let’s see what are the many buttons in the top right.
The first with a red basket ( DELETE ) is used to erase the current recipe.
The second ( CLONE ) to clone it and create another identical in list.
EXPORT is used to export the recipe (PDF, BeerXML or in BrewFather JSON format).
SHARE will return us a link with which we can share the recipe on Facebook or on various social.
PRINT allows us to print the recipe in PDF format.
READ MODE , the newspaper icon, used to have a easily readable vision of the entire recipe, with all major data on screen.
The last button, the one with the green beer BREW brings us to the next section.
Now that the recipe is created… it’s time to brew it! Clicking the BREW (the button with the green beer at the top right just described), we will be transported to the appropriate section, where we will find our recipe, click it.
The first section is PLANNING , we need it before starting cooking (for example the day before, in preparation).
Here we find the name ( NAME ) of the batch, the number ( NUMBER ), the name of the brewer ( BREWER ), the date of the brew ( BREW DATE ) and the loaded recipe ( RECIPE ).
They are all editable values.
At the section INVENTORY we’ll find the list of raw materials that are needed for the recipe. if we have included it in inventory we find a box that, if checked, will automatically remove that amount from the warehouse, updating the residual values. If the raw material is not in stock, we will find a red exclamation point.
In LOG we can enter what happens when cooked (or the preparation of it), complete with date and time.
On brewday, we can go to the BREWING section, where we can find the button CHANGE TO BREWING , which allows us to pass the recipe to this step.
This is the screen that we need to keep open on our device during the brewday, as it gives us a summary of all that is present in the recipe ( BREW SHEET ), it gives us a very comprehensive timer ( BREW TRACKER ) with all the various instructions (for those who know him, it is a bit like the BREW STEPS report of BeerSmith, but interactive).
In MEASURED VALUES we can write the values measured during the brewing, and the program will automatically return the STATS and LOG .
Once finished the brewing it is time to pass the recipe to the fermentation phase ( FERMENTING ), where we find READINGS with the graphic representation of density and temperature readings in the event is associated a TILT or compatible device to the program.
Here you can find my guide to set Tilt Pi V2 for automatic readings and upload.
FERMENTATION PROFILE is the recipe fermentation profile (also modifiable).
Also the yeast and eventual fermentation adjuncts are modifiable ( ADDITIONS ).
In MEASURED VALUES we can write the measured values and the program will automatically return the values of carbonation ( CARBONATION ), STATS and LOG .
Once we have bottled, we can to move to the last phase, COMPLETED .
Here we will find a summary of the MEASURED VALUES and STATS .
We can also give a vote to the beer ( RATING ) from 1 to 5 stars and enter tasting notes ( TASTE NOTES ).
This Brewfather is awesome! Writing the guide I was able to discover the most hidden features of this program and, consulting the COMING SOON section on the site, I was able to appreciate how the guy behind the project is working hard to bring it to the highest level.
For now I am still in the 30-day trial period, I think it is right to test it well on the field by brewing a few beers before deciding on the purchase, but I think my preference will move more and more from BeerSmith to this new and innovative project.
I think that BrewFather has all the credentials to substitute Beersmith in my productions and it costs less, so why not try it?
Let me know what you think …