Introduction

This documents is specific to the Mac version of BeerAlchemy 2. However, many concepts also apply to the Touch versions of the app - only the UI is different.

User Interface Overview

BeerAlchemy, with few exceptions, has a three pane user interface.

The leftmost pane is always visible and determines what is displayed in the other pane(s). The individual sections of this list can be collapsed by mousing over the section titles and clicking the "SHOW"/"HIDE" buttons that appear.

First Steps

There are a number of things that you may want to attend to before starting the exciting bit of creating recipes. Doing so will make your experience with BeerAlchemy more enjoyable and unlock some of the more powerful features of the app.

Preferences

Here you can set up your preferred hop and color formulas, the measurement system you use (imperial or metric) and even your altitude (if you happen to live up a mountain). The measurement system you choose here only affects the way weights etc are displayed, you can enter amounts from another system even if it's not your chosen one. BeerAlchemy will do the conversion for you.

Ingredients

BeerAlchemy comes with a comprehensive database of ingredients. It is however intentionally generic - it doesn't have entries specific to individual maltsters. Some users prefer to add new entries to remedy this.

Inventory

Whilst entering your supplies into the app may seem a bit of drag it does unlock a range of useful features - for example the app can use your inventory to adjust bittering hop additions to give you the IBUs you require with the hops you actually have. Trust me it's worth doing.

Profiles

If you create profiles for all your set ups or brewlengths you can easily scale recipes between them.

Recipes and Batches

One key aspect to be aware of in BeerAlchemy is the distinction between recipes and batches.

A recipe is like a prototype - it's possibly not the actual recipe you will brew on the day. The alphas will most likely be different on brew day for example.

A batch is what you brew on brewday. A recipe may have many batches - all subtly different. If you have entered your supplies into the inventory, the app will allocate them to the batch and adjust the recipe accordingly, for example adjusting bittering additions to give the same IBUs with the hops you have. It will also recalculate the beer color based on the malts you have (chocolate malt for example can vary quite a bit in color). BeerAlchemy also produces a step-by-step brewsheet with all the volumes, weights, times and temperatures you need on brewday.

Creating a Recipe

To create a recipe select a entry in the Library section in the leftmost pane and select "New Recipe" from the action menu on the middle pane. A new recipe will be created and automatically selected.

There are three view styles available for recipes/batches - two of which are available for recipes. These are selected using the segmented button at the bottom of the rightmost pane.

To edit a recipe select the middle button.

Editing a Recipe

The recipe (and batch) editors consist of a number of sections. These blocks can be easily jumped between using the horizontally scrolling section at the top which has buttons containing the section titles.

The sections in the recipe editor are described below:

Title

Erm...the title of the recipe or batch.

Dates (Batches only)

A variety of dates related to the brewing of a batch.

Style

Choose the BJCP style best matching your brew. The checkboxes show conformity of your recipe to the chosen style. A similar display of information is shown in the "Recipe Summary" window which can be toggled off and on (using the button with a magnifying glass icon).

Profile

Profiles are used to select between different brewing set ups. You can of course choose different volumes etc that are different to your chosen profiles. If you do so a new profile, just for that recipe, will be created. You can scale recipes/batches by choosing different profiles.

Volumes(Recipes)/Target Volumes(Batches)

The volumes used to calculate the recipe stats. For batches these originally come from the parent recipe. They can be altered (with scaling) by changing the Profile or directly.

Actual Volumes(Batches only)

The volume measurements you actually take as you brew the batch.

Stats(Recipes)/Target Stats(Batches)

The calculated values for the recipe/batch.

Actual Stats(Batches only)

These values are calculated using the volume etc. values you measure as you brew the batch.

Processes

Recipe Type: Chooses the recipe type (Full Mash, Extract etc). Doesn't actually change much apart from the way the "Instructions" are displayed.

Wort Fermentability: In BeerAlchemy the attenuation applied to a recipe is based on the yeast used in the recipe with the highest degree of attenuation. This setting allows you to fine tune the applied attenuation if you expect the beer to be sweeter or drier than usual.

Hot Steep/Whirlpool: If the brew will be kept hot for some time after the boil, you may get more bitterness from the hops than you'd normally expect. If you enter the appropriate temperature/duration for this additional hot period here, the additional utilization will be calculated.

Inventory(Batches only)

Clicking the "Adjust Now" button removes the ingredients from the inventory where possible.

Additional ingredients can be added to a batch after removing ingredients from the inventory (e.g. dry hops) but "adjusted" ingredients cannot be edited further and will not be deducted more than once.

Fermentables, Hops, Other Ingredients and Yeasts

These sections work in a similar way. You can add new items by clicking the '+' button and remove using the '-' button. 'Fermentables' and 'Hops' also have a "Quick Edit" button that allows easy adjustment of all the hops/fermentables in a recipe.

Double clicking a row opens an editor for the individual ingredient.

In the case of a batch, additional information is shown about what will be deducted from the inventory. This automatic allocation may be adjusted as desired.

In the case of batches, the color of the ingredient weight in the recipe editor refers to the follow:

  • Black - The ingredient is in stock in the inventory.
  • Red - There isn't enough of the ingredient in stock in the inventory.
  • Gray - The inventory has already been adjusted for this ingredient and it can no longer be edited.

Water

Here you can choose water profiles for the water you are brewing with (perhaps a municipal supply) and the target water you are aiming to replicate. The app comes with some profiles from classic brewing cities but more can be added by the user (Ingredients-Waters in the leftmost pane).

A range of salt additions can be noted, these are for the whole batch regardless of when you add them.

The effect of the salt additions is shown at the bottom of this section. For each ion the first number is the calculated value from the base water and the salt additions. The second number is from the target water.

You may note that if you set the water profiles to be the same and add no other salts that the two figures are different - this is due to concentration due to evaporation in the boil.

Mash Schedule

Choose the desired schedule for the recipe/batch. BeerAlchemy comes with a range of mash schedules although you can add more (Process-Mash Schedules).

Mash Parameters

For recipes there are only two values here which aren't actually used in calculations. For batches however values entered here affect the mash calculations (in the Instructions).

The "Mash Tun Thermal Mass" is the most obscure entry here and its purpose is to represent the mass of the mash tun that needs to be heated up when the mash temperature is changed. It's hard to guess so is best calculated from some results you have from previous brews. You can enter these previous results into the Mash Calculator in Calculators and determine your Mash Tun Thermal Mass.

Conditioning

Values you enter here are used to calculate priming/pressures that are shown in the batch Instructions.

Ingredients

BeerAlchemy comes supplied with an extensive list of brewing ingredients. The ingredients editor allows you to add new ingredients or to edit the existing ones. One reason you may want do this would be to alter the alpha acid of a hop variety. Although you can alter the alpha acid each time you add a hop to a recipe, you may want to do it here so you don't have to do it every time you use that hop.

You may add or alter as many ingredients as you want. You may also delete them though we don't recommend you do as you never know when you might need them

Fermentable Ingredients

If an ingredient is a malt, malt extract, sugar or other fermentable ingredient it comes under this tab. Each fermentable ingredient has the following editable properties.

Ingredient - the name of the ingredient. You can use pretty much any name you want but we've arranged each ingredient with either is country of origin (if it's a malt) or the words 'Extract' or 'Sugar' (if it's either of those) at the beginning. For example 'UK Pale Malt', 'Sugar - Honey' and 'Extract - Pilsen Light Liquid Extract'. We think this makes ingredients easier to find though you may want to use a different system. The one restriction is that sugars MUST have the word 'Sugar' somewhere in their name otherwise their high fermentability will not be recognised and errors in the gravity calculations will result.

Is Grain - tick this box if you're ingredient is a grain and don't tick it if it's a sugar or an extract.

Must Be Mashed - not all grain ingredients much be mashed (e.g. crystal malts). Tick this box if the ingredient requires mashing.

SRM or EBC - the title of this column depends on the units of color you have chosen to use. This is the color of the malt. It is often quoted by retailers and can often be found on the relevant maltsters webpage.

%Extract - the percentage of the ingredient that theoretically is extractable. For sucrose this is 99%, for dried malt extracts and light colored malts around 80% and less for dark malts. This can usually be fouind on maltsters websites.

%Moisture - the percentage moisture in the ingredient. Currently BeerAlchemy doesn't use this value but may do in the future so enter it if you know it. For pale malts it's usually around 4% and slightly higher for caramel malts.

Description - A short description that will be shown as a tooltip in the recipe editor if the mouse hovers above an ingredient name.

Hops

Each hop has the following user editable properties.

Variety - the name of the hop variety. As with the names of the fermentable ingredients, the format we have used for the names of the hop variety is to put the country of origin first. For example 'US Cascade'.

Alpha - the typical alpha acid of the variety.

Description - A short description that will be shown as a tooltip in the recipe editor if the mouse hovers above an ingredient name.

Other Ingredients

Any ingredient that is not in either of the other four categories belongs here - Ingredients such as spices and fining agents etc. There are just two editable properties.

Ingredient - the name of the ingredient.

Description - A short description that will be shown as a tooltip in the recipe editor if the mouse hovers above an ingredient name.

Yeasts

Each yeast has the following user editable properties.

Yeast Name - the name of the yeast. We have used the format <supplier name> <product code>-<descriptive name>. For example 'Wyeast 1272-American Ale II'.

% Atten. - the apparent attenuation of the yeast. This is often quoted by the yeast supplier on their website.

Beer - the type of beer the yeast is used to make - ale or lager.

Yeast Type - is the yeast 'dry' or 'liquid'.

Description - A short description that will be shown as a tooltip in the recipe editor if the mouse hovers the yeast pulldown menu.

Waters

BeerAlchemy comes with water profiles for a number of famous brewing cities. You can also add you own - both your own base waters and any additional targets you need. These can then be chosen in recipes and batches to aid with salt addition calculations.

The editable values are:

Name - the source or target water.

Description - a short description.

Calcium, Bicarbonate, Sulfate, Chloride, Sodium, Magnesium - the concentrations of the respective ions in the water.

Inventory

Like the Ingredients editors, the inventory for each of the various ingredients types is edited in separate editors. They are however quite similar so are dealt with here as one.

Upon opening one of the inventory editors, the middle pane of the app shows those ingredients in the inventory. New ingredients can be added using the "+"button at the bottom of the pane. When this is clicked, a list is shown of ingredients that are not already in the inventory. An ingredient must exist within the app before it can be added to the inventory. New ingredients must first be added using an ingredient editor if they do not already exist.

Once the ingredient has been added, attention can now turn to the rightmost pane. Here are shown the different batches of the ingredient within the inventory. BeerAlchemy treats each batch individually as each batch may be different - for example batches of a hop variety may vary in alpha.

If more batches of an ingredient are required, additional batches may be added using the "+" button underneath the list of batches.

Also underneath the list of batches is a detail view for each batch as it is selected from the list. It is here that you can edit the details for each inventory batch.

Frequently Asked Questions

Some questions seem to come up more than once...

Importing Recipes

If you want to import Promash or BeerXML recipes simply drag the files onto BeerAlchemy's dock icon.

Editing Hop Alphas in Batches

As these are calculated from the inventory, these aren't editable if you have any of the hop variety in the inventory. They are however editable if you don't.

Syncing with iCloud

iCloud syncing sounds fantastic. Unfortunately syncing Core Data with iCloud isn't as reliable as it should be, only apps bought from Apple's apps stores can use iCloud and of course it's limited to Macs and iOS devices. In the meantime, BeerAlchemy supports wireless syncing between Macs and iOS devices.

Syncing with Dropbox

Previous versions of BeerAlchemy allowed users to change where they stored their recipe data and most users that took advantage of this feature did it to move their data into their Dropbox folder. BeerAlchemy 2 now uses an SQL database to store its data and having multiple machines accessing the same data at the same time is likely to lead to data corruption. Consequently this feature was removed.

It is still possible to use symlinks to put your BeerAlchemy 2 data into Dropbox but this is unsupported and you should be aware of the risks.

As an alternative, BeerAlchemy 2 now allows wireless syncing between Macs.