5 essential apps for brewing your own beer
Brewing comes with some math homework—but there are apps for that.
In the two years since my wife and I started making our own beer, we learned that brewing is mostly about keeping your equipment clean, but it also involves doing a lot of math.
That’s where brewing apps come in handy: they do a lot of the calculations so you can focus on designing and scaling your recipes. These tools will also guide you through all of the timing on brew day, making them especially helpful if you’re a beginner.
Every homebrewer should check out Brewfather. This platform is available for desktop browsers, Android, and iOS, and features full syncing capabilities between devices so you can design a recipe on your computer and then check details on your phone.
Creating a recipe is easy—just add the ingredients (fermantables, hops, and any other additions), and the size of your batch. The app will automatically make all the calculations for you, including the amount of water you have to add, for example. When it’s time to brew, Brewfather will create all of the timers you’ll need, complete with a schedule of when you’ll need to add in all of your components.
[Related: BeerSci: The art and science of beer brewing, on video]
To save you some time, the platform is also constantly updating its extensive library of ingredients, which includes all the relevant statistics for each one, like yield percentages and IBUs. Just search for your ingredients and the platform will take them into account automatically.
Brewfather’s free version gives you access to almost all its features, but you’ll only be able to store five recipes. If you don’t want to pay, you can always export a recipe to make room for a new one, and then import it again later if you need it. On the other hand, if you decide to invest and have an electric hydrometer, Brewfather’s $20-a-year subscription version allows you to integrate it, so you can get real-time updates on your phone about how fermentation is coming along.
Brewfather is available for free for Android, iOS, and on the web. Unlock premium features with a $20 a year subscription.
BeerSmith was the most-recommended app on the market until Brewfather came around. It’s available as a direct download for Windows, macOS, and Linux, but you can also get to it on your web browser and mobile device.
This platform might look a little dated, but it’s still powerful and comprehensive, with built-in support for a staggering amount of ingredients, though you might need to install add-ons for some of them. One of its best features is calendar mode, which allows you to track the brewing, fermentation, and aging of your various ongoing libations in one place. BeerSmith also lets you print step-by-step directions for your designed recipe, set up timers for the brewing process, and access an online collection of user-submitted recipes if you need a little inspiration.
BeerSmith is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux, for $35 after a 21-day free trial. You can also download it on Android and iOS for $5. Subscriptions start at $15 a year.
Brewtarget is open source, which means it’s completely free. The user interface is crude yet effective, but the ingredients list isn’t nearly as complete as similar applications.
There’s no mobile version and no cloud syncing, so everything runs and is stored entirely on your computer—this could be a downside or a benefit depending on what you need. Brewtarget is not the best app on this list, but it’s the best free brewing app you can install on your computer, and once you set it up with the recipes and ingredients you normally use, it might work very well for you.
Brewtarget is free for Windows, macOS, and Linux.
BeerCalc is another free, web-based option. It’s not quite as polished at Brewfather and has one major downside—the platform uses the metric system and there’s no way to change that.
Still, BeerCalc has an impressive amount of user-contributed recipes and ingredients to get inspiration from and makes it easy and quick to create and share your own. And because BeerCalc runs on the web you can easily access it from all of your devices, without having to worry about syncing. Just don’t expect a lot of bells and whistles outside the recipe creation process.
BeerCalc is available on the web for free.
Priceless Brew in a Bag Calculator
Brewing in a bag is an alternative brewing method that, unsurprisingly, requires you to put grains in a bag to brew your beer. The advantage here is that you can mash and boil in the same pot, saving you some space and sparing you from getting more and more equipment. Priceless Brew in a Bag Calculator is a free web app you can use for quick calculations when deviating from traditional brewing. It can determine things like your strike temp, how much water you have to pour in, and how many yeast cells you’ll need to ferment your temperature.
This isn’t anywhere close to a replacement for the other tools here, and it doesn’t aspire to that, and it’s for someone who already has a recipe and wants to quickly calculate some crucial information.
Priceless Brew In a Bag Calculator is free to use on the web.