BeerSmith 2.3 Update – New Features Detailed Overview

The BeerSmith 2.3 update features some significant changes to the user interface as well as powerful changes in the brewing engine. This is a big update, so this will be a pretty long post. Here’s a summary of some of the new changes and how to use them! Note that you can download the new version here.

SessionThe Session Tab

A new session tab replaces the old fermentation tab and lets you record session readings in one place to you can compare measured and estimated values. Each field is color coded yellow until an actual value is entered making it easy to track the items you have entered from the ones still to be done. A Clear Session Data button near the top sets all of the values equal to the estimates so you can easily reset for another batch, or you can clear the current field with the Clear Field button.

Near the bottom of this tab I’ve also added support for fermentation tracking and you can enter fermentation gravity and temperature readings and graph them against your planned fermentation profile.

GrainSimplified Recipe Editing Dialogs

When you open an ingredient for editing, BeerSmith now shows a simplified dialog with focus on the amount of that ingredient which makes it much easier to quickly adjust it. You can still get the full details by clicking on the Edit Details… button a the bottom of the ingredient. The old style of editing is still available from Options->Look and Feel – Simplified Recipe Editing checkbox if you want to turn this feature off.

Improved Ingredient Entry

You can now change the amount of an ingredient by editing the amount column directly on the ingredient list by clicking on it – never even opening a dialog. Enter the name of a unit after the number to convert units (for example “3lb 2 oz” or “2.3 kg” works in any field)

add-hopAdding/altering ingredients is easier too. The new add ingredient dialogs all have a button that lets you add the currently selected ingredient without closing the dialog so you can enter a bunch of hop additions or grains quickly. You can also now select multiple ingredients and delete them all at once.

Ingredient Keyboard Shortcuts Added

Keyboard focus issues were corrected and shortcuts have been added so you can easily add ingredients using the keyboard (Ctrl-Y for yeast, Ctrl-W for water, etc…) as long as the ingredient list has focus. Here’s the full list – these are active only when the ingredient list has keyboard focus. On Mac you can use either the Control or Command key for most shortcuts, though Ctrl-H must be used to add hops since it is a reserved “Hide window” combo on the Mac. The Mac Control- combos were added in 2.3.6

  • Del = Delete, Ctrl-H = Add hops, Ctrl-h = Add hops, Ctrl-M=Add Misc, Ctrl-Y=Add yeast, Ctrl-G=Add grain, Ctrl-W=Add water, Ctrl-D=duplicate, Ctrl-s=Substitute, Ctrl-A=Select All
    +/-/==Increment/Decrement amount, Ctrl-z=Undo Last Item, and the “[” or “]” keys will decrement or increment time for item

Copy, paste, duplicate, and an undo button are now active on the ingredient list making it easier to handle small changes. As mentioned you can now select multiple ingredients by holding the Ctrl or Shift keys when selecting ingredients.

  • Ctrl-X = Cut, Ctrl-C = Copy, Ctrl-V = Paste, Ctrl-D=Duplicate, Del=Delete selected, Ctrl-Z=Undo last ingredient change

Finally the escape and enter keys now work properly to close dialogs and can even be enabled for recipe tabs (if desired) by going to Options->Look and Feel and selecting the Close Tabs on Escape/Enter checkbox in the top section of the dilaog.

HoptoolNew Hop IBU Adjustment Tool

You can click on the new Hop IBUs button next to the various add ingredient buttons on the recipe design tab to adjust individual IBUs for all of your hop additions at once. This makes it easier than ever to quickly balance your hop bill including boil and whirlpool hops.

 Space for More Custom Fields

The space for custom fields on the bottom right of the design tab has been doubled to 26 fields (two columns). Use the Select Fields button on the bottom right section of the design tab for any recipe to add new fields to the listed ones to customize what you are seeing when building a recipe.

Water Analysis

Water AnalysisWater analysis is now built into the water ingredient profiles. From Ingredients->Water you can add your own local water profile and get an instant estimate of Alkalinity, Effective Hardness, Residual Alkalinity and the Sulfide to Chloride Ratio. In addition John Palmer’s analysis of recommended color range for an unadjusted mash, as well as sulfide/chloride bitterness balance is included in the water details dialog.

Water analysis has also been added to the Tools->Water Profile tool which lets you take a base water profile such as your local water source and develop water additions associated with a target water profile to brew another beer. If you save water additions along with a water profile the program will ask you if you also want those additions included in a recipe when you use that water profile.

PH-EstimateMash pH Estimation

BeerSmith now includes mash pH estimation directly in the recipe editor. The estimate is based on the water profile used in the recipe along with the grain bill. It does not include water additions directly as these may already be part of the water profile itself. You can view the mash pH estimate on the bottom left of the mash tab.

Mash pH Adjustment

PH-AdditionsThe pH estimate above should help you get close to your desired mash pH range (typically 5.2-5.6) but I do strongly recommend measuring your actual mash pH and using either lactic acid or acid malt to adjust your mash if needed. The tool for doing this is also integrated into the mash tab for every recipe now. On the bottom right of the mash tab you will find a tool to calculate the acid adjustment needed to hit a target pH based on a pH measurement.

To use this feature it is important that you enter your measured mash pH (using a pH meter or precision paper strips) as well as desired mash pH. Next select the acid to use and concentration and the program will estimate the acid amount needed to adjust your mash pH. Note there is also a separate tool under Tools->Mash pH that lets you do a mash pH adjustment separately.

Support for Large Monitors and Retina

BeerSmith 2.3 has much better support for large, high resolution and widescreen monitors. Many of the dialogs are now scaleable and will adjust to fit your wide monitor. I’ve also improved the display on Retina monitors for Mac.

hopshotSupport for Hop Extracts

BeerSmith 2.3 now has support for hop extracts built into the brewing engine. You can use both CO2 based hop extract (such as HopShots or Hop Jizz) that should be boiled as well as isomerized hop extracts (i.e. pre boiled extracts) that can be added at any point in the brewing process to taste. The default units for these extracts is now in milliliters.

For CO2 extract, use the alpha content of the extract (typically around 65% for many products available to the home brewer) and similarly for isomerized extracts use the isomerized alpha content (often near 50%) for the alpha value. The entire brew engine was updated to handle these additions at any stage though CO2 extracts need to be boiled for proper isomerization.

masheffProper Handling of Late Extracts/Sugar Additions

Many people noted that the program did not properly handle late extract or sugar additions for all grain brews (only extract type beers), and that the sugars were included in the preboil gravity estimate. This has been corrected in 2.3, so now late sugar additions will be properly handled both from a gravity and bitterness estimate perspective. Also new fields were added to calculate the post mash gravity of all grain brews separate from the pre-boil gravity (which could include sugars) to give far more accurate mash efficiency estimates. These new fields are on the session tab as well as mash tab.

mashtunadditionMash Tun Additions and Recoverable Deadspace

Some brewers working with mash tuns that had large recoverable deadspace were frustrated with earlier versions of BeerSmith which only had a loss (Lauter Tun Losses) entry. To correct this the equipment profiles now have a new Mash Tun Addition field that lets you add additional water to the first mash step to compensate for systems with large recoverable deadspace.

For example, lets say you are working with a BIAB type 10 gallon system that has 1.5 gallons of recoverable space under the mash tun filter screen. Previously the only way to handle this was to manually tweak the mash water amounts to compensate. Now you can simply edit the Mash Tun Addition field in the equipment profile by setting it to 1.5 gallons. Using that setting, an additional 1.5 gallons of water will be used in the first mash step giving you the proper mash thickness. So now you can set up the equipment profile to reflect the recoverable space as a Mash Tun Addition and use it with any mash profile properly.

No Chill, Whirlpool Time and Hop Carry Over in Equipment Profiles

whirlpoolPreviously BeerSmith did not carry remaining boil hop additions into the whirlpool. A hop added late in the boil would not be included even for a long whirlpool steep. Now there is an option in the equipment profile to allow for hops to carry forward into the whirlpool and also a new field for Whirlpool Time. If you check the Estimate Boil Hop Util in the Whirlpool box in the equipment profile and include a whirlpool time, the program will estimate the potential hop bitterness remaining for each hop addition at the end of the boil and include that in the whirlpool IBU calculations and overall hop IBU estimates. The time is based on time above 85 C (185 F) as hop isomerization drops off pretty rapidly below that temperature.

This feature can also be used to calculate no-chill brews. By carrying over the hop utilization and setting the whirlpool time equal to the time a “no chill” cube is above 85F, BeerSmith will do a hop-by-hop estimate of the remaining potential for each hop addition and estimate additional IBUs added as the cube is chilling – similar to an extended whirlpool. To enable these features just edit your equipment profile and look for the section on the right column (illustrated here).

carbCarbonation Based on Measured Volumes

Many users wanted a carbonation estimator based on actual measured bottling volume as they often come in a bit high or low of the target. The Session tab now shows both carbonation based on estimated bottling volume as well as carbonation based on the measured volume (which you can measure and enter at bottling time). So if your bottling volume is off a bit you can now get an accurate carbonation number without having to resort to the separate carbonation tool.

lockLocking and Unlocking of Recipes

BeerSmith 1.4 had a feature that let you lock a recipe so it could be viewed but not edited. I’ve added this back in to V2.3 – you can check a box on the main design page (just below the version number) to mark a recipe as Locked. Unchecking the box will unlock it. A locked recipe will show up in the recipe list as locked.

folderBetter Folder Navigation

The title bar for a folder now has parent folders listed and you can go “up” the chain by clicking on the folder name in the title bar. For example clicking on My Recipes in the title bar within a subfolder will take you back to your main recipes folder.

agerateYeast Age Rate Added

With the introduction of the new White Labs pure pack liquid yeast which does have a slightly longer shelf life, I needed a better way to handle yeast viability and aging. So now each yeast entry has its own Age Rate field that represents the percentage of yeast cells lost as a yeast pack ages. This is used along with the yeast package date to directly estimate the viability of the yeast pack which gives us the cells available for a given yeast package.

If you do create your own custom yeast entries it is important to set this field based on the yeast type. The old age rate fields on the Options->Yeast Starter page are now only used in the yeast starter standalone tool. The recipe starter calculator uses the new Age Rate field for each yeast to estimate its viability.

filerecoverFile Recover from Backup Tool

While you can quickly recover a single recipe using the View->Recipe Archive repository added in version 2.2, BeerSmith 2.3 adds a new bulk file recovery tool. Backups are automatically made periodically for your recipes and other data. The new tool lets you view any of these automatically saved backups or alternately recover from one of them.

To view an old backup simply open the File->Recover from Backup tool and select the file type and file you want to view. Next click on the Open File in New Tab. This will open the file selected in a new tab without changing any existing data. You can then work with this file in the new tab to recover selected data using copy/paste as needed.

Alternately if you want to do a full recovery (replacing your existing recipes or other data), you again open File->Recover from Backup and select the file to recover from and file type. Below that you can enter a name where you want the existing data saved to. Finally if you click the Recover from Backup Selected button the program will save the current data off to the file named first, then load the data from the backup file replacing the entire database (recipes for instance) with the backup. This operation cannot be undone so be sure you have the correct data file selected.

Fixes and Much More

In addition to the changes above a large number of bugs were corrected – including better mouse wheel support, better handling of ingredient changes on the fly, better keyboard focus support, cloud fixes, brewing fixes, the new 2015 BJCP style guide, new hops and grains and much more. For a full list of changes you can view the complete change log here. The update can be downloaded here.

Thanks for joining me on the BeerSmith Home Brewing Blog. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter or my podcast (also on itunes…and youtube…and streaming radio station) for more great tips on homebrewing. Also check out the How to Brew Video series I shot with John Palmer if you want to learn more about all grain brewing.

52 thoughts on “BeerSmith 2.3 Update – New Features Detailed Overview”

  1. Awesome 2.3 update!!!! Downloaded 2.2 trial 3 weeks ago and all of the tiny problems (e.g guessing decimals to get proper oz) were addressed. All of these updated additions have made this a flawless program for my homebrewing needs.

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