Brewing software is necessary to design, brew, and keep track of your homebrew recipes. There are many options available, from online recipe builders to mobile apps and computer based software. Finding the right program for you can be tricky. We’ve taken a deep dive into the newest release of the original homebrewing software, BeerSmith.
BeerSmith 3 is a comprehensive and reliable software for homebrewers. Easy to use and packed with features, the newest release is a welcome update to an already solid brand. Wine, mead, and cider making are all supported now. On top of that, modernized brewing additions make BeerSmith 3 a great all-around recipe design and brewing software.
We’ll take a look at what’s new in BeerSmith 3 and dive into the software with a hands-on review.
What is BeerSmith?
BeerSmith is a comprehensive software for creating homebrew recipes. As you design your beer, original gravity, bitterness, color, and all recipe parameters are calculated. Adding malts, hops, and yeast is done with the click of a button and all characteristics are updated as you go.
BeerSmith 3 is the latest version that seeks to stay up to date and offer new features. And at the same time, maintain the ease of use and reliability of the previous versions that made it so successful.
What’s new in BeerSmith 3?
In the 7+ years since the release of BeerSmith 2, the homebrewing landscape has evolved significantly. New processes, ingredients, and tastes have driven the development of many new brewing software tools. BeerSmith 3 is a significant update to the previous version. It seeks to give homebrewers a comprehensive and reliable software for modern brewing.
Several major updates and new features pushed the need to release a new version of BeerSmith, rather than releasing an update to BeerSmith 2. Fundamentally, BeerSmith 3 still has a similar feel and functionality. There are, however, some very interesting and useful updates.
Wine, Mead, and Cider Support
Homebrewing is more than just beer: wine, mead, and cider are also fun and delicious to make at home.
Previously, BeerSmith was purely focused on beer. In a growing and diverse homebrew community, adding support for these other beverages is a very welcome addition.
BeerSmith 3 has integrated style guidelines for mead, wine, and cider. Along with that comes customized reports and process steps, depending on what you’re making. There are many fruits, juices, and types of honey preloaded into the software. Or you can add new ones using the Brix value of the fermentable.
There’s also a new feature to calculate backsweetening, as well as tools for yeast nutrients.
Integrated Water Chemistry Calculation
Many homebrewers struggle with water chemistry calculations. It’s a complicated subject and can be overwhelming. Now, BeerSmith 3 has integrated water adjustment into the recipe builder. You can calculate mash pH and brewing salt additions directly when designing a recipe.
Matching water profiles is also built-in with an automatic salt addition calculator. Match your desired profile at the click of a button. Plus, there’s a similar tool for mash pH.
New Brewing Features
Since it’s the first major release in 7 years, BeerSmith had to catch up with an ever-changing homebrewing landscape. Many general brewing improvements have been made in BeerSmith 3.
Features to help calculate whirlpool hop addition IBUs have been integrated. On top of that, a more comprehensive dry hop addition tool is included. There’s even a feature to adjust hop utilization for high-altitude brewers.
A cool new addition is to accommodate brewers who like to add dark grains at the end of the mash. This is a popular trick to reduce the bitterness or harshness of roasted grains, while still getting the color. You can select when you want to add grains – at mash or sparge – so the calculation can account for the brewing water volumes and conversion.
Updates have been made to the yeast tools as well. You can now select a two stage starter and there are added tools to help you when you’re using either dry or liquid yeast. There are also updates to account for the final gravity estimation of high gravity beer.
BeerSmith 3 has added several pre-set equipment profiles. This includes profiles for RIMS and HERMS brewers. Of course, you can always add your own equipment profile.
Cloud Integration Improvements
Cloud storage of recipes is also an integral component of BeerSmith. As a standard user, you’re entitled to store up to 15 recipes on the cloud. BeerSmith also offers subscription services with more storage and functionality.
The new release supports the creation of folders on the cloud for better organization. It also has updated functionality like moving, copying, and sharing recipes.
User Interface Improvements
In terms of the user interface, there have been a few updates and improvements including a modernized general appearance. There have also been some general simplifications to clean up the user experience.
You can now more easily add ingredients of the same type to your recipe. For example, you can add multiple types of malt without closing the dialog box each time – a minor annoyance in the previous version.
Tilt Hydrometer Connectivity
If you use a Tilt hydrometer, you can now seamlessly integrate the data into BeerSmith 3 to monitor fermentation activity. The software has a new feature to import either Tilt CSV or Google Sheets data.
Bug Fixes and Stability Improvements
On top of the new features, several bugs have been fixed that were annoying on BeerSmith 2. If you’re a BeerSmith user, you know that there can be bugs here and there, and sometimes crashes do occur.
BeerSmith has been great with providing support and updates to the previous version, and it seems BeerSmith 3 is no different. You can expect updates and continued support.
As an on-and-off BeerSmith 2 user for the last 5 or 6 years, I was excited to see what the latest release had in store. Based on the new features and updates, I had high expectations for BeerSmith 3.
Let’s take a look at some of the most important new features.
The new feature I was most excited about is the water chemistry integration. With BeerSmith 3, you can add and edit your desired water profile right inside the recipe builder. In the previous version, calculating water profiles was done separately and was not user friendly. Personally, I always used the Bru’n Water spreadsheet as I didn’t find the BeerSmith 2 water calculator to be very convenient.
Water chemistry is admittedly tricky to grasp and there’s a pretty steep learning curve. I’ve found that BeerSmith 3’s water profile integration works great so far. I get very similar results to other water chemistry spreadsheets.
To test it out, I finished adding my hops, malt, and yeast to my recipe. Once happy with the general parameters of the recipe, I then added the water profile using the new “Water” tab.
You then choose your water profile. It’s easy to add your own profile. I have added a bottled water that I use for brewing but you can ask for a water report from your municipality or get your water tested yourself. After you input your water, you select the profile you’re trying to match. BeerSmith comes with some preloaded options or, again, you can input your own.
You can even split your water from multiple additions. This is useful if you need to cut your water with distilled water to soften or lower specific ion concentrations.
The automatic calculator will separate mash and sparge additions. You can always go back and edit the additions if you’re not completely satisfied with the estimate. So far, I’ve found it to be pretty accurate and reliable.
Make sure to fully select all of the ingredients and parameters in your recipe before entering water data. If you change your recipe or mash volumes, you’ll have to go back and redo the water.
The final step in water adjustment is the pH level. BeerSmith 3 has a built-in functionality for that too. Click the “Mash” tab in the recipe builder to adjust the pH. The program lets you adjust pH with lactic acid, phosphoric acid, or acid malt. Personally, I usually use lactic acid. The adjustment is really straightforward on BeerSmith 3. The pH value is identical to what I calculated on my normal brewing water spreadsheet, Bru’n Water.
On the “Mash” tab, you can see your unadjusted mash pH. For my recipe, it was 6.05. BeerSmith 3 automatically calculates the acid addition on the small calculator on the right. It calculated that I needed 17.2ml of lactic acid to get my mash down to a pH of 5.20. I then added that under “Add Acid”.
I really liked using the water chemistry adjustment tools on BeerSmith 3. The values came almost identical to my other water calculator, so I feel comfortable using BeerSmith moving forward. It makes it so much easier and quicker to have this functionality built-in to the recipe design software.
After all the water adjustments have been made, the additions are automatically added to the recipe tab.
New Hopping Features
I brew a lot of hoppy beers, NEIPA especially. Modern hopping techniques and timing can be complicated. Hops are added pre-fermentation, mid-fermentation, and post-fermentation. So brewing software nowadays has to account for many options. BeerSmith 3 has added a functional tool to help precisely design these additions.
You can select exactly when you want to add dry hops from the “Dry Hop Phase” drop down.
Another great addition is the whirlpool hop bitterness tool. A new calculator has been integrated that estimates IBUs based on whirlpool time and temperature. Many NEIPA brewers rely solely on whirlpool additions for their bitterness. This new function makes it easy to estimate the overall IBU of a beer. You can see from the screenshot that the same amount of Citra added for the same time at different temperatures gives a different IBU estimate.
Through playing around with some of my recipes, I have found that I agree with these estimates in the perceived bitterness of the beers I have brewed. However, I find this feature needs some more experimentation to really dial it in. And it could be different on each brewer’s individual system.
Wine, Mead, and Cider Making
I’m not the biggest wine, mead, or cider brewer, but I do like to have ciders on tap now and then. I thought I’d test out the new functionality in BeerSmith 3. Previously, I always just guessed recipes or relied on online homebrewing community advice. It’s nice to now have this option readily available on BeerSmith 3.
You can select wine, mead, or cider from the “Type” drop down. After that, it’s easy to add fermentables and other additions. BeerSmith 3 comes preloaded with many fruit juices, fruits, and honey.
You can also add your own custom fermentables by taking a Brix reading and defining the color.
Designing recipes has the same ease as brewing beer. All of the parameters – like original gravity or color – are automatically calculated. You can select different types of ciders, meads, or wines to fit within the stylistic guidelines as well.
I think this added feature is a very welcome addition to the BeerSmith package. It could even inspire homebrewers to try fermenting something other than beer.
Overall, the look and feel is almost identical to BeerSmith 2. If you’re upgrading, you will have no trouble adapting. For new BeerSmith users, it does take some getting used to the layout and design of the software. It has a “vintage” feel to the design and is a bit cartoony. If you’re into sleek and modern user interfaces, you may consider BeerSmith a little outdated. They have put some more thought into the design, however, and BeerSmith 3 is the nicest design yet.
Running the software has been bug-free for me so far. Even on my slightly older laptop, BeerSmith 3 is fast and responsive.
There’s also a mobile app that you can purchase in the Apple and Android app stores. The mobile app works well, but doesn’t have the full functionality of BeerSmith 3. On top of that, BeerSmith is developing a web-based version. These are both nice additions to the BeerSmith package. They’re especially interesting for the next generation of brewers who rely more on their smartphones. Hopefully, full versions of the app and web-version will be available soon.
Pros and Cons
BeerSmith 3 is a fantastic update to an already great product. The functionality is seamless and the host of features is easy to use. It’s easy to come up with your next great recipe when using BeerSmith.
This release is a great homebrewing program and leaves me optimistic that BeerSmith will continue to evolve and keep up to date. It’s not a perfect piece of software, but it’s definitely one of the best brewing platforms available.
- Most comprehensive recipe builder for all beer styles, wine, mead, and cider
- Water chemistry integration is easy to use and very accurate
- Easily fine-tune the smallest details of the brew day, from whirlpool additions to dry hopping, yeast, and all fermentables
- Imports all recipes from BeerSmith 2
- Very clear and precise brew instructions
- Clunky and outdated design and user interface
- Complicated for beginner homebrewers
- BeerSmith app and web-based version not yet fully functional
BeerSmith has a well-deserved positive reputation and has been a great success within the homebrew market. These pioneers have done a great job of staying relevant with regular updates and additional features. The latest release, BeerSmith 3, is another excellent version of the software.
We recommend BeerSmith 3 to any homebrewer looking for a comprehensive and reliable brewing software. Compared to its competition, BeerSmith offers a one-stop shop for every parameter of brewing. It produces extremely precise recipe details and brewing steps.
If you’re currently using BeerSmith 2, we recommend reviewing the new features outlined above and consider an update. For many brewers, the previous version of BeerSmith covers more than enough. But if you’re looking for advanced brewing parameters, like water chemistry integration, BeerSmith 3 is a great purchase.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why buy BeerSmith when there are free alternatives?
With a growing homebrew community, there are many great recipe design softwares available. Free recipe software can work well, but usually in conjunction with other spreadsheets or calculators.
BeerSmith does everything in one piece of software. Now, with the addition of full water chemistry integration, it’s even more enticing to use BeerSmith 3. Every brewer has their own preferences, so it’s worth it to try out as much software as possible to find what works for you.
Is there a BeerSmith online recipe builder?
BeerSmith 3 was updated in such a way as to facilitate the eventual integration of a web-based tool. At present, there is a mobile app with some nice tools but still with limited functionality. A web-based version should be available in the near future.