BeerSmith Tutorial By: Ben Bakelaar

BeerSmith tutorial part 1 – entering your first recipe

Today we start down the path of a major improvement to your brewing – using software. There are two main reasons to use software. First, to automatically calculate many aspects of your brew day including the gravity, IBU of your hops, mash temperature, water additions, etc.   Secondly to create a record that you can use to brew the same exact recipe (in the case of success!) or to review in case something goes wrong. Many brewers keep a log of each and every brew in a binder, and take notes on any modifications made during brew day, as well as during the following weeks of fermentation and carbonation, and finally sampling at various points.

The software that I use and recommend is BeerSmith, available at www.beersmith.com.  In my opinion, it is the best designed software, and the easiest to use. It was also recently updated to version 2 this past year. Some people prefer other software like ProMash, which is designed more for professional brewmasters, or mobile apps like BrewPal, which has plenty of features but is not as advanced as BeerSmith. At a cost of $28, you really can’t go wrong with BeerSmith, especially if you consider that your homebrew hobby may extend through the next 5 years, 10 years, or even 20 years!

What I’ll be covering today is, ironically, how to ignore most of the BeerSmith screen. As I mentioned, BeerSmith is great software, but also quite advanced. One of the issues I have with it is that it shows you almost every feature up front, on the main screen. This can be extremely overwhelming to a new brewer who just has a few extract batches under their belt. So, as I walk you through how to create your first recipe in BeerSmith, I’ll also point out all of the parts of the screen that you can safely ignore until you become more comfortable with the software.

BeerSmith  |  love2brew.com

When you first open the software, you’ll see the welcome screen. Personally, I tend to avoid instructions at all costs and just start messing around, but if you’re the kind of person who can take the time, reading the instructions is definitely a good idea. That being said, let’s continue on as I show you how to enter your first recipe.

 BeerSmith  |  love2brew.com

As you can see above, I’ve highlighted in red boxes all of the areas you need to worry about for now. I like to think of BeerSmith as similar to Microsoft Outlook in a way – you have your folders, your inbox, and your “reading page” which shows you the content of your email. In the same way, in BeerSmith you have folders, and inside those folders, recipes, and then a “reading pane” to show you the content (brewsheet) of that recipe.

To get started, follow these steps:

1.     Select the “Add Folder” icon on the top icon bar. Name your folder, for instance, “My Brews”.

2.     Click on your new folder to highlight it.

3.     Select the “Add Recipe” icon on the top icon bar.

4.     Name your recipe, for instance, “Pale Ale 1”.

BeerSmith  |  love2brew.com

You will now enter all of your recipe information in the highlighted area.

1.     Brewer – fill out your name.

2.     Type – choose Extract, Partial Mash, or All Grain.

3.     Batch size – for this example we will leave it at 5 gallons.

4.     Boil time – for this example we will leave it at 60 minutes.

5.     Date – this is your actual brewdate.

6.     Version – we will leave at 1.0.

7.     Equipment – go ahead and click on the drop-down and a new screen will come up. Most extract brewers should pick “Pot (4 Gal/15.1 L) – Extract”. Most all grain brewers should pick “Pot and Cooler (5 Gal/19 L) – All Grain”. That being said, go ahead and double-click on any of the equipment profiles to read the details, and choose the one that best suits your brewing setup.

Now that we’ve gotten all the details of the brew entered, it’s time to enter the ingredients.

BeerSmith  |  love2brew.com

1.     Click on “Add Grain” on the right.

2.     Type “2 row” in the search bar.

3.     Single-click on “Pale Malt (2 Row) US”.

4.     Locate the “Amount” box on the bottom of the screen.

5.     Enter 10.

6.     Click OK.

7.     You should now see 10 lbs of Pale Malt reflected in the recipe area.

 BeerSmith  |  love2brew.com

Now let’s add the hops.

1.     Click on “Add Hops” on the right.

2.     Type “Centennial” in the search bar.

3.     Double-click on “Centennial”.

4.     Now you’ll see 1 oz automatically added to your recipe at 60 minutes boil.

5.     Go ahead and repeat steps 1-4 to add a second hop addition.

6.     Now double-click on one of the “Centennial” entries.

7.     Modify the amount to “0.5” oz, and the time to “20” min.

BeerSmith  |  love2brew.com

Finally, let’s add the yeast. Follow the same procedure as above. Click on “Add Yeast”, then type in “Cali” and choose “California Ale (WLP001)” from the options shown. Your screen should now look like below. Click on the “OK” button highlighted in red.

BeerSmith  |  love2brew.com

That’s it! You’ve just entered and saved your first recipe in BeerSmith. Now you can click on the recipe to see the details in the “reading pane” below. Scroll around the sheet to see all of the calculations BeerSmith has done automatically for you. You can print this sheet out to use as a reference while you are brewing, and also to take any notes on modifications that happen during the brew.

BeerSmith  |  love2brew.com

It will take me many more posts to review all of the details of even just this one brewsheet. So in the interest of keeping this simple, we’ll stop here. You now have the ability to enter any recipe that you find, whether in a book, on a website, in a forum thread, scribbled on a napkin, etc. And that’s a great first step!

Hit me up on Twitter @beerbyben with any questions, or leave a comment below and I'll respond!