Author Topic: Is beersmith really worth the cost?  (Read 959 times)

jyamkhan

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Is beersmith really worth the cost?
« on: February 16, 2019, 08:21:04 PM »
So, I have downloaded the trial of beersmith to try it out and it has some good features.

The main things I am looking for is water calculations (mash water amounts based on specific grains), OG, FG, etc calculations. And in the future pH calculations. Not sure what else I really absolutely need from beersmith. But I would really like to here feedback or alternative softwares.

Every search I do everyone just says "beersmith is the best" with very little to no actual feedback. Or that the UI is outdated. Hoping to get some more info here.

Thanks all!
« Last Edit: February 18, 2019, 08:38:12 AM by jomebrew »

Offline Oginme

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Re: Is beersmith really worth the cost?
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2019, 06:36:04 AM »
I am not sure you will hear much about other software for comparison here.  The last time I trialed the available software packages was many years ago before I purchased BeerSmith.  I have not regretted that decision.  My comments below refer to BeerSmith 3 which is the current version available.

If you are looking for an 'all-in-one' program, then BeerSmith is probably one of the top, if not the top, one available.  It takes a little effort and a few brews of taking good volume and gravity data to get the profiles matching your specific process.  Once you do it is as good at giving you accurate estimations as you are at measuring them.   As a recipe builder, it is very flexible and adaptable to many types of recipes and brewing methods.  The ability to easily scale recipes from other sources to match your process is very handy. 

With a good, accurate equipment profile, the program will give you your volumes and gravity targets.  Most of the calculations behind the scene which can be affected by your specific process are also accessible for customization to your process data. 

The water tool has been much improved with the release of the last version and the inclusion of the water tool within the recipes.  The pH estimation, in my opinion, is still a bit off when it comes to acid additions for mash pH control.  Having said that, it is very robust and reproducible so that if you find your actual values are, like mine, 0.15 to 0.2 pH units off; it is consistent in this estimation making it easy to predict actual mash pH. 

For my use, it also serves as an electronic log of everything I have brewed.  While I still keep hard copy brew day sheets, the archived recipes with the recorded results are easily accessible.

Additional things which may be of value, or not:

Brad is pretty aggressive at keeping up with the findings on brewing techniques.  While he does not do the research and modeling himself (that I am aware of) for individual parameters, he has been quick to incorporate them into minor updates to the software.

The expansion of capabilities for wine, cider and mead making has made the program more versatile for a number of other brewing/fermenting type of applications. 

There is an issue at present where BeerSmith will update the archives for recipes and profiles upon the closure of the program.  Forced shutdowns of your operating system can cause loss of data and the need to restore from archives.  This can be easily done within the program.  It is annoying to have to do this, but every time that this has happened to me the cause has been a forced Microsoft update (I am running on Win10). 

There are a few things that I would like to see better modeled, such as thermal expansion scaled to temperature.  At present it is an all-or-nothing calculation.  This is a minor issue and one that for the majority of the users does not affect daily use.  It does become a greater issue when you are looking at commercial scale systems (or so I am told).

Now, about that UI.  Maybe it is because I am old and programmed computers in the late 70's and early 80's before changing career direction, but I don't have too much issue with the UI.  After using it for a short period of time, I was able to adapt my thinking to the layout and format of the information quite handily.  Like any software out there, if you fight the software and don't try to understand the logic behind it, you will probably be frustrated by it.  The only way around trying to substitute your logic for someone else's (in this case the developer, Brad) is to write your own software or search to find something that is written towards your thinking. 

Sure it is not 'modern' or 'splashy', but my focus is to have functional modeling software which gives reliable results not something that 'looks cool.'

Overall, my recommendation to everyone looking at brewing software is to try as many as seems might fit their needs and then pick the one which seems the most intuitive and meets the majority of their needs.

Edit: To address the question in the header of this thread -- Yes it is well worth the cost.  For less than the cost of a single 5-gal recipe, I have saved much time over my previous hand calculations and received great benefit in playing around with recipes without having to plow through endless calculations or access a variety of on-line tools. 
« Last Edit: February 17, 2019, 06:02:37 PM by Oginme »
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