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Beer Open Source

Brewing Beer With Free Software 83

An anonymous reader tipped us to an interview with Phillip Lee, author of Brewtarget, one of the best pieces of Free brewing software available (it's even in Debian). The interview discusses some of the technical decisions made (why Qt and Cmake?), and mentions a bit of the plans for future development: "The way the database was designed previously really hadn't been changed since the my first code in 2008, and we were running into a brick wall with some of the features we wanted. After we move to SQLite, there will be quite a lot of new features like being able to search through the ingredients in the database and stuff like that. I also plan to add some water chemistry tools for people that like to alter the ions and salts to fit a particular profile." (The last bit about water salt modifications comes as a relief to at least this brewer.)
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Brewing Beer With Free Software

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  • by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:54PM (#39332907)
    Anyone interested should google Greg Lehey. He was the guy that practically coined the phrase, "Free as in Beer." He has been using FreeBSD to assist in beer brewing for many years!
    • by motorsabbath ( 243336 ) on Monday March 12, 2012 @07:20PM (#39333205) Homepage

      Many of the day-to-day calculations we use in our craft brewery are simple Perl scripts run on FreeBSD. Who needs more? The real work is done with a pencil and a calculator anyway! ;-)

      • by hal2814 ( 725639 )
        I use BeerSmith myself. It provides a database for keeping up with recipes, keeping track of inventory, automatic recipe scaling, a brewsheet for brew day detailing my volumes for batch sparging, strike temps for water, etc. It also gives me a good idea of how a beer might match a particular style if I'm trying for that sort of thing. I don't need all of that but I don't need to homebrew.
        • by aXis100 ( 690904 )

          I use beersmith too and am very happy. Plus, it's really not expensive - if it saves me from making a mistake on a single brew it has paid for itself.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Most of my real work with beer is done with my liver.

      • I'm an advocate of the pen-and-paper method too. Beer should be about the experience, the feel and the art of it. Too much technology takes the fun out of brewing for me.

        That said, my scales broke before the last brew I did. I had to guess at all the quantities - also I didn't have my standardised grist hopper (B&Q bucket) so my estimates were a bit off. The beer turned out at 1.074OG! Oops.
        • my estimates were a bit off. The beer turned out at 1.074OG! Oops.

          Never mind, you can just have a chaser with it.

  • Free Beer (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MrEricSir ( 398214 ) on Monday March 12, 2012 @07:02PM (#39332985) Homepage

    On a related note: this might be more of an Ask Slashdot topic than a comment, but has anyone on here tried Free Beer []?

    If so, was it any good?

    • Re:Free Beer (Score:5, Informative)

      by MrHanky ( 141717 ) on Monday March 12, 2012 @10:03PM (#39334655) Homepage Journal

      Version 1.0 looks like a terrible recipe, to put it mildly. It's got insane amount of sugar for such a light beer. Then again, the project seems to have started out from the idea of applying open source ideals to beer recipes, disregarding the fact that there already were thousands and thousands of recipes shared freely in the homebrew community, on various messageboards now and on usenet and mailing lists before that. From 2.0 and up, it might be good, although I have no idea what the guarana berries are good for.

      At any rate, the project is nothing new and nothing special. There are plenty of better resources for brewing good beer, by more knowledgeable brewers. I suggest and, along with as a great introduction. As recipes aren't copyrightable, the creative commons license is a bit nonsensical for this.

  • Water utilization? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by unassimilatible ( 225662 ) on Monday March 12, 2012 @07:07PM (#39333049) Journal
    My biggest complaint with brewing software is its water utilization tools, or lack thereof. It's kinda nice to know exactly how much you're going to need in advance, without using the marked wooden spoon method. I say this as an all-grain brewer who grows his own hops.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ProMash does a great job with this. By far the best brewing software I've used.

      • by ncc74656 ( 45571 ) *

        ProMash does a great job with this. By far the best brewing software I've used.

        It works pretty well under Wine, too. I've looked at some of the alternatives, but I'd need a way to import at least the recipes that I've accumulated in ProMash.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's called a sightglass.

      Or, you should know how much water you need overall for your system. For a 5 gallon batch I know that I need 9.2 gallons of water overall to put 7 gallons in the boil kerttle. After a 90 min boil this will leave me with 5.5 gallons into the fermenter, allowing a half gallon for trub loss.

    • by Manfre ( 631065 )

      Shameless plug for [] We do not have this feature yet, but we are in the process of adding more all-grain features since the other developer and myself have just started to move from extract to all-grain.

    • by silky1 ( 1609493 )
      Beer smith does a great job and more active support than Promash. Ultimately though paper and pencil is the best way to get your system calibrated then you can plug all those numbers into a beer making software of your choice to make future batches easier to produce. I like the idea of "free" home brewing software and am even interesting in helping the development, but I always found the ones I tried to me lacking enough to make them hard to choose over the commercial versions.
    • by hal2814 ( 725639 )
      Growing your own hops doesn't have anything to do with water utilization. Even if you're using fresh hops, the amount of additional moisture is negligible.

      What exactly are you trying to get out of your water utilization? Are you trying to get a fixed starting volume or are you trying to adjust pre-boil volume to nail an original gravity? BeerSmith and ProMash can both handle the former. For the latter, the only brewer I know who does that uses ProMash but I think he does his own calcs for that part.
      • by unassimilatible ( 225662 ) on Monday March 12, 2012 @11:19PM (#39335195) Journal
        Growing your own hops doesn't have anything to do with water utilization. Even if you're using fresh hops, the amount of additional moisture is negligible.

        Where did I say that? I was merely pointing out I am not a novice brewer. But since we're on the top of hops, I brew IPAs. We use a shitload of hops, and they absorb water like crazy, so a nice, adjustable hop absorption tool would be a nice part of water utilization.
        • by hal2814 ( 725639 )
          Being a better brewer isn't a linear pursuit. Growing your own hops is a really cool thing to do if you have the climate for it, but it doesn't really indicate your knowledge of water absorption or even your general abilities as a brewer. I was being a bit dickish about it and I apologize for that but I stand behind my assertion.

          As far as calculating hop water absorption, the closest thing you'll find is the "other absorption" category in ProMash. You'd have to set that by hand each time. When I made
    • I've used BeerSmith [] for several years, and after a little bit of fine-tuning the parameters to match my equipment, I get very accurate water estimates. My last batch was as close as I can measure to 5 gallons in the fermentor, with no adjustment. It even has a 21 day free trial if you want to try it out. I've found it worthwhile.

    • by MrHanky ( 141717 )

      Brewtarget can calculate evaporation during boil and mash/sparge water volume. I'm not entirely happy with the mash wizard, but the volume given seem to be fairly accurate for my system.

  • make beer (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 12, 2012 @07:14PM (#39333139)

    $ make beer
      make: *** No rule to make target `beer'. Stop.

    I guess brewtarget is the configure script?

  • by wjcofkc ( 964165 ) on Monday March 12, 2012 @07:33PM (#39333361)
    I'm so confused.
  • by awshidahak ( 1282256 ) on Monday March 12, 2012 @07:40PM (#39333445)
    The beer is free as in speech, not as in beer.
  • by kbob88 ( 951258 ) on Monday March 12, 2012 @07:59PM (#39333635)

    This software doesn't work at all! I downloaded it and it installed fine. Then I ran it, and waited for like hours, and no beer yet! Here I am sitting with my mug under the USB port, and nothing is coming out. Jeez. Damn open source software. The USB port is for input / output, right? Well, where's the damn output?

    It said something about hops, so I did lots of hopping and even a little jumping, but to no avail.

    Wait a minute, it's saying something about adding water. Let me go pour some water into the keyboard and see if that helps...

  • I love Brewtarget! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I've been a homebrewer for about four years now, for the last year or so have been using Brewtarget exclusively. My friends that taught me still use Beersmith and refuse to look at any other piece of software, mostly for the water chemistry tools. Personally I find using chemicals to alter water chemistry in brewing purposeless and distasteful. The whole point of brewing for the first 10,000 years of our civilized existence was to turn brackish water into a potable, drinkable beverage. It seems just plain

    • by ukemike ( 956477 ) on Monday March 12, 2012 @10:12PM (#39334723) Homepage

      Personally I find using chemicals to alter water chemistry in brewing purposeless and distasteful.

      You know you are adding salts, sure they are chemicals, but saying "adding chemicals" makes it sound like you are adding polychlorinated biphenyls or something horrible like that. Calcium carbonate, sodium chloride, magnesium sulphate, etc... these are all salts, and are found naturally in water.

      I personally love playing with the salts to improve the quality of my beer. It's not because I am trying to emulate the water from some particular place, but because different beer styles turn out better when the salts in the water support the chemistry of the brewing process. for instance the the hop flavor and aroma just works better in really hard water.

  • Why is this fine application not available on Gentoo?

    /me runs off to write an ebuild

  • There does seem to be a complete dearth of similar free software for the home wine brewer... to the point where I ended up deciding to learn how to program, and wrote something for myself in the space of a few weeks: []

    Frankly it's pretty inflexible, I only wrote exactly what I needed, no more, no less, and god knows how my "coding standards" compare to anything in the real world. But hey I'm no java developer, and it is free (as in speech and beer (or should that be
    • by Stele ( 9443 ) on Monday March 12, 2012 @09:26PM (#39334417) Homepage

      I don't think they included Wine support since it's a native Qt app or something....

    • Interesting -- I've gotten a bit into Cyser making, and noticed the dearth of software for that too. The big thing for me has been dealing with e.g. apple cider -- it contributes gravity and volume, and none of the brewing software I've found handles doing math for ingredients like that.

      • by Sloppy ( 14984 )

        What math? All the base ciders are different (as are honeys), different densities, etc and I doubt there will ever be a database (and if there were, I wouldn't really believe a single number in it). Do you really have a target O.G.? (Maybe you do, but I don't.) If you're off your target, are you really going to do anything about it? No matter what you've got, you're gonna pitch and be happy with it.

        Don't think of meads and ciders as being drinks for brewers who flunked math; think of them as drinks fo

        • Well, that's what I've been doing ... five or six pounds of honey, five gallons of cider, some fruit extract, mix it all up ... ok, this is the gravity...

          It still feels wrong that I'm not using science to control the entire process (eh, I started off brewing beer...)

        • Well if you are low on gravity, no problem, just add more honey. If you are high... well you can add steralized water before you pitch. At least to an extent depending on how big your equipment is. (I primary 5 gallon batches in 6.5/7 gallon carbouys. Mostly for the anti-spillover features, however.) Personally I would be considering being too high on gravity a good thing. :)

          I do a lot of mead and the occasional cider, but I have found cider to be much more difficult to get consistency. I created a cyzer by

  • You don't need open source software to make a brew. Brewing requires but a few simple things, believe it or not:

    Deionized water
    Sugar of some kind (Molasses, honey, brown sugar, white sugar, powdered sugar, etc)
    Yeast (for higher concentrations, use champagne yeast, for lower concentrations, any old yeast will do)
    Flavoring (hops, fruit rinds, fruit pulp, spices, herbs, etc)
    Sterilized fermentation containers

    But more importantly, one doesn't really need a reason to drink.
  • I found this site and it has made all of the difference. The main idea is that most brew recopies are for pros that have expensive equipment and are trying to make the most beer for the grain they have. It's an efficiency thing.

    This site shows how to easily make an all grain brew with pretty simple equipment with the idea that you aren't going to get perfect extraction from the grain but who cares just use more grain since it's cheaper than a pro setup. []

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