The Ultimate BeerSmith Equipment Profile Guide

Some of the most frequent questions I receive on BeerSmith software are about how to properly set up and dial in your equipment profile. This is an important first step as the equipment you are using drives all of the critical recipe estimates like color, bitterness and original gravity.

I’ve composed many articles and videos over the years on equipment profiles, so I thought I would try to combine those links into one super-post.

A Good Equipment Starting Point

If you are starting with BeerSmith from scratch, my first recommendation is to try to use one of the pre-existing equipment profiles. For example, BeerSmith comes pre-loaded with many common sized brewing systems for All-Grain, BIAB and Extract brewers. It also has common mead, wine and cider profiles. You can find these under Profiles->Equipment view in the desktop, web or mobile program.

Equipment Add-ons Available for Most Major Systems

The above are generic equipment profiles, but if you have a specific brewing system from one of the popular suppliers like Blichmann, Anvil, BrewZilla, Grainfather, Robobrew, SS Brewtech, etc…you can instead use the Add-ons feature in BeerSmith to download profiles specific to your system. On the desktop, go to Profiles->Equipment and then click on the Equip Add-ons button to display and download various systems. On the web version you can go to Profiles->Equipment and click on Manage Preloaded, and the mobile version has an Add-on button on the main menu. Simply download the specific profiles you need and then select them when building your recipe.

You can also use the Set as Default feature on any of the platforms detailed here to make your equipment profile the default.

Creating a Custom Equipment Profile

In general, modifying a pre-loaded equipment profile is your best option, but if you want to create your own equipment profile from scratch you can do so. The key is to get your volumes correct at each stage and then also set reasonable estimates for the overall brewhouse efficiency and the mash tun heat capacity (how much heat the mash tun absorbs).

BeerSmith starts with the Batch Volume which is the volume into the fermenter and works backwards from that adding and subtracting various losses to get to the needed pre-boil volume. From there it factors in the grain bill to calculate mash and sparge water needed. Ideally you want to adjust your volumes and losses to match your actual brew session.

I’ve done a number of specific articles on this topic:

Handling Different Equipment System Types

I’ve also done some articles based on various equipment types which cover how to use a BIAB or RIMS system for instance:

Professional Beer Brewing

Some additional considerations come into play when you are creating an equipment profile at the professional (1 barrel or more) level. I’ve introduced the key considerations in the article below. In particular your overall brewhouse efficiency is typically a bit higher on a large system, and your hop utilization factor listed as Large Batch Hop Utilization in the equipment profile usually well above 100%:

Matching the Mash Profile to the Equipment

For all grain brewing, BeerSmith assumes a simple infusion mash with a fly sparge as the default. However if you have an all-in-one or BIAB style system where you use all of the water up front and then remove the grain basket or grain bag instead of sparging then you need to select a BIAB mash profile in the recipe to avoid the sparge step. If you are a No-Sparge brewer you would also want to use a BIAB mash profile to avoid the sparge steps.

Similarly if you are using a RIMS/HERMS system with direct heat between mash steps you want to select one of the RIMS-HERMS mash profiles in your recipe. Similarly if you are a batch sparge brewer you would need to select one of the batch sparge mash profiles.

While those are the major cases, you might want to check out the equipment specific links in the section Handling Different Equipment Types listed above for specific details on how your equipment works best with BeerSmith.

Improving and Adjusting Your Equipment Profile

In an ideal world, your estimated gravity, volumes, color, bitterness and ABV would all match up with the measurements you take when brewing. In the real world, lot of factors come into play and may alter the measured values.

The first thing I recommend brewers do when working with a new profile is to simply brew a batch of beer and measure all of the volumes and gravities as you go. If your volumes are off at any point in the brewing process, you should adjust your volumes in the profile to match the actuals by adjusting the batch volume into the fermenter and then adjusting losses as needed to match things up. This is an important first step because if your volumes are off then your gravities will not match up.

After you have the volumes in line you need to brew again and adjust your brewhouse efficiency to match the original gravity predictions up. I have an article on this bookmarked here that can help you adjust equipment profiles:

Adjusting Your Mash Temperatures

A final adjustment to make is to match up your mash temperatures. I have a detailed post on mash temperature adjustments here. When you mix the grains and waters during the mash-in step the grain and water temperatures can be set on the mash tab. However the amount of heat absorbed by the mash tun itself is a factor which is included in the equipment parameters for Mash Tun Weight and Mash Tun Specific Heat.

The main item we adjust is the mash tun specific heat in the equipment profile. A higher specific heat number indicates a more insulated mash tun while a low number indicates a material that transmits heat quickly. Therefore if your measured mash step temperatures come in higher than predicted, you may need to raise the specific heat number. If your measured temperature comes in lower than predicted you may need to lower that number.

Changes for High Gravity Beers

A final factor to consider is how your efficiency will change for very high gravity beers. Because you are working with proportionally less water and more grain in a high gravity beer, you will always get lower mash and brewhouse efficiency. I’ve covered this in detail in this article, but the bottom line is that you typically need to adjust your equipment profile to use a lower Brewhouse Efficiency number when making a high gravity beer or barley wine.

You can handle this either by making a one off change to the efficiency number in the recipe, or by building a second equipment profile. I personally have made a copy of my regular equipment profile and then modified it with a lower efficiency number and different “high gravity” name. Then when I brew a high gravity brew, I simply choose my high gravity equipment profile instead of my default one.

Wrapping it All Up

Keep in mind, you should generally adjust the equipment profile under Profiles->Equipment as this is the one that will be used when you select a profile into your recipe. Also if you are using the Set as Default feature you should pull in your new profile and set it as the default after making changes so these changes will also appear in future recipes. Because all older recipes have copies of your old equipment profile embedded, it does not hurt to bring in your current profile by selecting it again when editing an old or archived recipe.

I hope this post helps you to get BeerSmith set up properly and also aids you in building great recipes. I’m going to include two more links to help you learn more about BeerSmith:

I hope you enjoyed this week’s article from the BeerSmith Home Brewing Blog. Please subscribe for regular weekly delivery, and don’t hesitate to leave a comment or send this article to a friend.

1 thought on “The Ultimate BeerSmith Equipment Profile Guide”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Follow by Email
Scroll to Top