Saturday, December 8, 2007

Brewing Software For Macintosh

I’m pretty new to brewing, but not to computers. I am a Web Developer and a SEO Engineer by trade. I’d love to be able to bring my love of computer into the home brewing world. I’ve read about some brewing software, but most of the software is for Windows. The big ones seem to be Beer Tools Pro and Pro Mash. The issue..., I switched to a Macintosh earlier this year. I also have windows installed through a virtual machine, but I prefer to use Mac software natively.

After surfing for a while, I found Beer Alchemy by Kent Place Software. Since I am new to brewing, I don’t understand 80% of what the software can do. It does support importing some popular formats such as BeerXML, and Rec files. The software also has some other features I will find very useful. One is its collection of calculators. From SG corrections to evaporation calculations, this is worth it alone.

The software has an inventory database and shopping list generator. This is great to know what you have on hand and what you will need to brew a specific beer style and recipe. It contains a large database of products and also has a Mash Editor. Of course you can import, export, and print recipes. It will also recalculate a recipe for larger or smaller batch sizes.

I don’t know how it compares to the big PC apps out there, but I found Beer Alchemy to be simple to use. It was also written with the Universal Binary so that my mac can run it at top speed.

Who else uses Beer Alchemy? If you don’t which application do you use and why do you like it? I’m using the demo of Beer Alchemy, but before I buy it, I would like to see what everyone thought.

Also, send me some good recipe's. I would love to try some good ale recipes from other home brewers.


billvelek said...

What are "evaporation calculations"?


Bill Velek

Jeff Louella said...

Well I have never used it yet, I think it calculated the amount of water that evaporates during the boil, mash, and other areas.

billvelek said...

Jeff, I have been using BeerToolsPro for well over a year on a WindowsXP computer, but it is also available for Mac; however, it does not have a demo program, does not quite have all the bugs worked out yet, and some buyers have been less than satisfied with it. I won't condemn it because it is a very good workable program for me, although the learning curve seemed steep, and I still have high hopes for it. Anyway, it has a number of tools, and requires calibration of heat sources and thermal values for vessels such as the mashtun (thermal mass plus heat transfer), but nothing that is based upon evaporation. That's why I didn't understand what you were referring to and thought that perhaps BTP is missing a calculator of some sort, which is still possible.

From your description of what you 'think' it does -- "calculate(s) the amount of water that evaporates during the boil, mash, and other areas", BTP doesn't do that. Most tuns are sealed with a lid, so that wouldn't seem to allow for much evaporation, and the amount of boiloff is predicted by the user and entered into the recipe in BTP.

If you play with it and find out exactly what it is or does, please post a reply. Thanks.

Jeff Louella said...

This is a screen shot of the
Evaporation Calculator.

prsnow said...

The reason for an evaporation calculator is that during the boil, there is a fairly significant amount of evaporation loss that will affect the starting gravity of your batch.

It is important to have an open boil because there are undesirable volatiles that are let to escape during the boil. That evaporation is very beneficial in the final flavor or your beer.


billvelek said...

Thanks, Jeff, for the screenshot and to Phil for the comment about boiling. While BeerToolsPro doesn't have a separate calculator for that function, the main screen takes care of that. As I said earlier, the user enters the boil rate in terms of gallons/hour and the length of time that the boil lasts; BTP then determines the final volume in the kettle and automatically adjusts the gravity accordingly ... so it is actually doing the same thing.

As for Phil's comment, I've never covered my kettle. For one thing, it is too easy to result in a boil-over, which puts out the flame on the propane burner, makes a mess, etc. For another, it is counter-productive. One purpose of the boil is to usually to evaporate excess water from the sparge, and keeping a lid on the kettle would likely impede that effort. And I also agree with Phil that we are boiling off some undesireable things like precursors that lead to DMS. Sorry that it's been a year since my post, but I just found this again.


Bill Velek