Brewtarget 2.0.1 Manual

Table of Contents:

A Walkthrough

I figure it's probably easier to demonstrate the features of the program rather than try to explain every single concept. So, here we will create a nice American Amber Ale, trying to touch on as many features as possible.

Setting Options

Brewtarget's options are in Tools->Options. Here you should set your preferences for the unit system you wish to use, and which formulae you want to use in creating your recipes. For the purposes of this walkthrough, set the units to US traditional, temperature to Fahrenheit, gravity to specific gravity, color to Morey, and IBU to Tinseth.

Note: if you choose Plato for gravity, then all the displayed FG numbers are not corrected. So, the displayed FG reflects the actual FG: not what you will see if you use your refractometer.

Defining Your Equipment

Never ever try to formulate a recipe without setting up an equipment record. Having an equipment record for your recipe is very important in Brewtarget. It contains a lot of information about your particular setup, and helps Brewtarget better estimate your results.

Click on View->Equipments to bring up the Equipment Editor, or go to the equipment tree, right click and select "New Equipment". At the bottom, press the green plus and enter the name you wish to give it. Check "calculate pre-boil volume", and enter as many of these fields as you can. When done, press the diskette button at the bottom of the dialog to save.

Section Field Description
Set as Default Set this equipment profile as the default profile to be used when creating recipes.
Required Fields
Name Any name you choose to title your equipment setup
Pre-boil volume Amount of wort in the kettle immediately prior to boil.
Calculate pre-boil volume Based on the boil time, losses, and water additions, automatically calculate the pre-boil volume instead of entering it by hand.
Batch size How much wort you want to end up in the primary fermenter
Boiling & Water
Boil time How long you usually boil. Note: As of version 2.0, brewtarget allows you to modify the boil time directly on the recipe. This works simply as a default.
Evaporation rate Water loss during the boil, per hour. Typically, around 3L or 0.75 US gallons.
Kettle top-up water Amount of water you usually add directly to the kettle before boiling. For extract recipes, this should be equal to the boil volume.
Final top-up water Amount of water to add to the wort immediately before going into the primary.
Grain absorption How many liters of water are permanently lost to each kilogram of grain during mashing. The default value is 1.0875 liters per kilogram. This can fluctuate due to the fine-ness of your grind, humidity, brand, and other factors. Pressing the "Default Absorption" button will reset the value to this default.
Boiling Point of Water The temperature at which water boils. The default value is 100C (212F), but the actual value will vary with altitude.
Hop Utilization Correction for hop utilization. Typically 100 percent in homebrew systems, somewhat more than 100 percent for larger systems.
Mash Tun
Volume The maximum volume your mash tun can hold.
Mass Mass of your mash tun.
Specific Heat Specific heat of the material of your mash tun in cal/(g*C). Typical values are:
  • Aluminum - 0.215
  • Copper - 0.092
  • Iron/Steel - 0.108
  • Plastic - 0.359
Kettle to fermenter How much wort you leave in the kettle when you transfer the wort to primary.
Lauter deadspace How much wort you lose in the lauter tun.

Making a New Recipe

Click on either File->"New Recipe", click the blue plus in the toolbar at the top of the main window or right-click in the recipe tab of the tree and select "New Recipe". Name your recipe in the box that pops up, and click "OK".

Adjusting Recipe Parameters

If you created your equipment profile as shown above, and you made it the default profile, you won't need to do anything else.

Otherwise, choose the equipment profile you set up in the New Equipment section from the Equipment drop-down list. You can also drag it from the tree on the left and drop it on the recipe. After selecting or dropping the equipment, you will be asked if you want to set the batch and boil size of the recipe to that of the equipment. Click "Yes".

Selecting the Style

Brewtarget comes pre-loaded with all of the BJCP styles. This means you can check your recipe against the guidelines for the particular style you are trying to make. To do this, select " American Amber Ale" from the Style drop down list. You will notice that the numbers flanking the OG, FG, ABV, Bitterness, and Color fields have changed. These blue and red numbers reflect the lower and upper bounds of these parameters for the style. The middle number for each row is the current estimate for your recipe. If the number is blue, it means it is too low; red means too high, and green means in range for the style. If you choose, you can create your own styles in the View->Styles dialog. You can also view descriptions of the particular style and recommended ingredients there.

Adding Ingredients

Open the "Fermentable" tree in the left pane (denoted with a barley icon), and drag'n'drop the "Pale Malt (2 row) US", "Caramel/Crystal Malt - 80L" onto the recipe pane.

Back at the main window, you will see those two malts in your recipe. Click on the Crystal 80's "Mashed" checkbox to tell it that we want to have this in the mash (this malt can also be simply steeped).


Here's a cool feature about Brewtarget: you can enter amounts of stuff in pretty much any units you want. Let's see what I mean. Double-click the 2-row's "amount" cell and enter "4.536 kg". You will see that it immediately gets converted into "10.000 lb" if you're using US units. For the Crystal 80, tell it "32 oz" and watch it get converted into "2.000 lb". You can change US/English/SI preferences in Tools->Options. Please see Supported Units in this document to see the correct abbreviation for each unit.

Controlling units

You can control this feature for each of the main tables and fields in the display. For example, lets say you use a refractometer to measure your SG and OG, but you use a hydrometer to measure the FG. In the options, select "Brix/Plato" as the system default. In the main window, right click on the "FG" label and select "Specific Gravity" OG and SG will still be shown in Brix, but the FG will now display in specific gravity.

This feature works on all of the fields in the main window and on brewnotes by right-clicking on the label for the field. It works on the fermentables, hops, miscellaneous, yeast and mash tables by right-clicking on the header for the column. It works for any field for which it makes sense. For example, you can specify the units for amount, infusion temp and target temp on the mash table but not for the time. Additionally, this feature may not be fully implemented in all of the tables, editors and tools.

Controlling scale

Additionally, you can control the scaling where it makes sense. For example, assume you always want your fermentables in the table to displayed in grams. Right click on the "Amount" column in the table. Select "Default" if your system default is SI, or select SI. Then click on the "Scale" submenu and you can select "Default" "Milligrams" "Grams" or "Kilograms" Selecting the first option will give you the default brewtarget behavior. The other three choices will force brewtarget to automatically scale the weights appropriately.

Important: do not forget that you SHOULD enter the unit suffix (lb, kg, L, mL, etc.) for the amount boxes in brewtarget. If you do not, brewtarget will try to guess what you mean based on your defaults and what field you are editting. The guessing is pretty good, but you should not rely on it. In this case, brewtarget will assume that fermentables are entered in either lbs or kg, depending on the default units you have chosen.

Now you should notice something different about the OG, FG, etc., displayed in the main window. The OG now reads 1.052, and it is green which indicates "to style" as dictated by the amber ale style we chose. However, the FG is red, which means it's too high, the ABV is blue which means it is too low, and the Color number is green: just right. The glass of beer to the right represents the approximate color of your beer, and the thing right below that which reads "Cloying" is the maltiness indicator (based on IBU/GU ratio which now shows 0). You shouldn't take the maltiness indicator too seriously; it is just a general guide.

Now, go to the Hops tab and add 1 oz Cascade at 1 hr, 1 oz Cascade at 15 min, and 1 oz Cascade at 5 min. The IBUs should be about 32.4, and in the green. Add WLP001 yeast to the recipe. Now everything should be in the green.

Making a Mash

Let's do a 2-step mash with a protein rest at 121 F and a conversion rest at 152 F.

Aside: I should mention something here. Until now, Brewtarget has been lying to you. Underneath the target batch size on the main window, it says your calculated batch size and the calculated boil size are not 0. These are estimates based on your equipment profile. Brewtarget is lying because it's convenient just to be able to start adding the ingredients and get an approximate answer. After setting the mash addition volumes, you will get a real answer.

Click on "Edit Mash" and give it a name. Notice that you can enter the initial grain temp, sparge temp and initial tun temp here. Entering these as accurately as possible will give you the best chance to nail your temperatures. To set tun mass and specific heat, you should click "From Equipment". You can save this mash profile by pressing "Save Mash" at the bottom of the mash tab. It will be saved under the name you gave it in the "Edit mash" dialog. You can recall a mash profile by selecting it in the appropriate drop down box. From here, there are two ways to create the mash.

Method 1: Mash wiz

Go to the mash tab and click the blue plus. Name it "Protein" and click "OK". Double click its "Target Temp" cell and change to "121 F", and change the "Time" to "20 min". This means we want to hit a target temperature of 121 F for 20 minutes. Do the same for a "Conversion" step at "152 F" for "1 hr".

The mash wiz is for quickly and easily getting the correct mash temperatures and volumes for a single batch sparge mash. Click on the "Mash wiz" button, and give it a mash thickness of 1.25 qt/lb. The mash wizard just did 3 things for you: calculated infusion volumes, infusion temps, and gave you a sparge step that will make you hit your pre-boil volume. NOTE: you don't have to actually sparge with all of the sparge water, but can put a portion directly into the kettle depending on how you like to sparge.

Now Brewtarget is not lying anymore about the calculated boil volume and batch size. You can see any of the infusion temperatures under the "Infusion Temp" column.

Since your equipment and recipe might change, you should always do the mash wizard after recalling a saved mash profile.

Method 2: Mash designer

The mash designer is for more advanced users. It can be used to create pretty much any mash schedule you desire with however many sparges, and at whatever infusion temp or volume you desire. To enter it, just click the "Mash Des" button. It is not necessary to add all of the steps beforehand as we did with the mash wiz. A dialog will ask you for the temperature of the tun before the first infusion, so enter 70 F and continue.

We are now looking at the parameters for the first infusion. Enter "Protein" for the name, leave the type at "Infusion", enter "121 F" for "Target temp.", and "20 min" for the time. Now, you can either move the infusion/decoction amount slider OR the infusion temp slider. Moving one will cause the other to move so that the combination of amount and infusion temp causes you to hit 121 F. The upper and lower limits of these sliders are based on the maximum available space left in the tun (as given by the current equipment), and the boiling temperature of water. Start the amount slider at the far left. You will see that the tun fullness meter on the right shows an infusion ratio of 0.11 qt/lb which is far too low. How do I know it's too low? The total collected wort meter shows a negative value, meaning that the grain will absorb all of the infusion's water and could absorb more. So, slowly move the amount slider until the infusion ratio reaches about 1.25 qt/lb.

You should see that the tun is about half full, and we have reached 1.9 gal of the 6.25 gal that we plan to collect pre-boil. Click "Next". Title this step "Conversion" and set the target temp to 152 F and the time to 1 hr. Slowly move the temp slider all the way to 212 F. Click "Next". Entitle this step "Batch Sparge". Click the "Batch Sparge" checkbox, set the target temp to 165 F, and the time to 15 min. You will notice that the tun fullness has gone down, simulating that you have drained the tun of liquid; this is the purpose of the checkbox. Move the amount slider slowly to the right until the total collected wort reaches about 6.25 gal.

If you exceed the target collected wort volume, the progress bar will still show 100 percent, so be careful and pay attention to the text which shows the actual collected wort. Click "Finish" to return to the main window.

Brewday Mode

Now that your recipe is all planned, wouldn't it be good to have some instructions on your brewday? Click the "Brewday" tab at the top of the main window. Click "Generate Instructions". It has made all instructions for you and listed them on the left in order. You can remove, shift up/down, insert, change steps as you see fit to help you be organized on your brew day.

There are 3 timers to help you with time-critical steps if you click the clock button in the toolbar of the main window. They are in HH:MM:SS format, and the text box above each one is what you use to set it. Just enter "1:00:00" and press "set" to set the timer for 1 hour, for example. The "Sound" button allows you to select a sound that will be played when the timer reaches zero. Brewtarget has provided many default sounds to choose from, or you can select any other sound file on your computer.

Printing the Recipe

Print and print preview are available under the "File" menu. There are two printouts available. One is "Recipe" and the other is "Brewday". The recipe printout is all the info related to the recipe you have made. The brewday printout is formatted in organized specifically for following when you brew.

Saving Your Work

When you close brewtarget, you will be given an option to either save or discard your work.

General Concepts

Brewtarget v2.0 uses an SQLite database of recipes, ingredients, etc. If brewtarget should crash unexpectedly, you will be prompted to either restore the changes made last session or rollback the database to discard the changes in the last session.


The application window is split into three major panes: the trees, the recipe and the ingredients. The tree pane is a set of tabs that displays your recipes, equipment profiles, fermentables, hops, miscellaneous items and hops. You can sort any of the trees on the displayed fields. Double clicking on any item in the tree will open up the appropriate editor for that item. For recipes, it will open the recipe in the main window.

There are 6 tabs:

You can right-click almost anywhere on a tree and get a menu of options. Depending on where you click, the menus will change a bit. If you right-click on a recipe, the first option will be "new recipe". If you right-click on a fermentable, the first option will be "new fermentable". Otherwise, the available options will be the same.

You can select multiple items, right-click and then perform an action on the entire selected list. The only exception is the "Export" function. Limitations in the BeerXML format makes it very difficult to export both recipes and anything else at the same time.


If you right-click a recipe, you can select an action called "Brew It!". If you select this action, a new entry will be created underneath the recipe and a new tab will be opened in the main window. This new tab allows you to record important information about your beer during its creation (sg, volumes, temperatures, etc.). This allows the brewer to track performance over time and adjust their equipment and efficiencies to better predict what you brew.

If you want more fields available, open a feature request

The values are preloaded based on the recipe as written. As you move through your brewday, you can record the actual numbers. The calculated values in the middle of the screen will change based on those inputs. For example, if you expected an SG of 1.036 but only got 1.032 the projected OG, ABV and ABV will all change to reflect the lower SG.

There are four main sections on the brewnote tab.
Section Field Description
SG Specific gravity of the collected wort
Volume the volume of wort that made it into your boil kettle
Strike temp The temperature of your strike water before dough in
Final temp The temperature of your mash after dough in
OG Specific gravity of the wort after the boil
Postboil Volume the volume of wort in your boil kettle
Volume into Fermenter the volume of wort in your primary fermenter
Pitch temp the temperature of your wort when you pitched the yeast
FG Specific gravity of the wort after fermentation
Volume the volume of beer bottled or kegged
Date the date the beer finished fermenting
Notes Any notes specific to the brew day

Adding Ingredients to a Recipe

Method 1: Editors

If you are looking for a fermentable with a specific SRM or a yeast from a specific lab, this approach allows you to sort on any column you want.
  1. Choose the appropriate tab in the main window (Fermentable, Hops,...).
  2. Click the "add" button in the tab.
  3. Select any column of the row of the ingredient you wish to add.
  4. Click "Add to Recipe".

Method 2: Drag'n'Drop

This is the lazy way of doing it, as long as you don't mind the default sort order.
  1. Open the appropriate tree in the left pane.
  2. Click on the item you wish to add
  3. Drag it anywhere in the main part of the window
  4. And drop
  5. The tabs will change if required. E.g., if you drop a hop onto the "Fermentables" tab, the focus will change to the "Hops" tab.

Importing Recipes

You can import other BeerXML recipes (such as, from Beersmith) by using File->Import Recipes. However, you need to be aware that Beersmith does not strictly adhere to XML standards or even BeerXML itself (!), so you may have some trouble importing recipes from time to time. Brewtarget tries to maintain strict compatability with both.

Exporting Recipes

This option will export selected recipes to BeerXML.

Backing Up and Restoring Databases

For many reasons, you may want to back up all your recipes and ingredients and everything. To do this, go to File->"Backup Database" and select an empty directory. Restoring the database is just as simple. However, be aware that when you restore a database, anything in your current one will be wiped out.

As of Brewtarget v2.0, restoring a database will cause brewtarget to automatically restart.

Posting Your Recipe

Brewtarget offers two different methods for posting your recipes.

Method 1: Recipe to Clipboard

This tool is used to make a text version of the recipe so that you may post it online or whatever else you can do with a text version. To get the text version, Tools->"Recipe to Clipboard as Text", then click paste in a text editor or other paste-able window.

Method 2: Recipe to HTML

Another way you can share you recipes is to export them to HTML. Use File->"Recipe"->"Save to HTML". You can export either the recipe or the brewday instructions.


Brewtarget offers a lot of tools to aid the brewer in writing recipes and on the brew day itself.

OG Correction

A common problem is that you under or over estimate your efficiency and get a different OG than you planned for. To correct this in the boil, choose Tools->"OG Correction Help". Please note that this tool makes the assumption that you are not going to add any water post boil. Just enter the SG, temp of sample, and calibration temp of the hydrometer OR the degrees Plato of the wort as you read it pre-boil. Then enter the pre-boil volume. Now, click "Calculate" and 3 fields will populate on the output half of the window. The first shows you the post-boil OG if you do nothing. The next shows you how much water to add (or boil off if negative) in order to achieve the right OG. The last shows how much wort you will end up with.

Pitch Rate Calculator

This tool is located in Tools->"Pitch Rate Calculator" and helps you to make a starter that has the correct amount of yeast for your beer. Put in the wort volume, OG and starter OG (in specific gravity) and select the pitch rate. The pitch rate should be 0.75-1.00 for most ales and 1.50-2.00 for lagers. The output is the number of yeast cells required (in billions), the number of wyeast activator packs or white labs vials needed without a starter, the amount of dry yeast required (without starter), and the size of the starter needed to reach the cell count at the given starter OG (usually never over 1.030).

Priming Calculator

Tools->"Priming Calculator". Put in the required input values, select a priming agent, and press calculate.


Tools->"Refractometer Tools". Here, you can find OG and current SG by using refractometer readings. You must always enter the current plato and either the original plato OR the OG. If you just want to find out what 11.2 Plato corresponds to, enter 11.2 in both the original plato and current plato fields.


Brewtarget supports SI, Imperial, and US customary units. To switch between these modes, go to Tools->Options->Units, and check/uncheck the appropriate box. It also supports auto-conversion. For example, if you are in US mode, and you enter "0.50 gal" into a text field, it will appear as "2.000 qt". You may also enter units from the other unit system if you like. However, if you enter an unsupported unit, Brewtarget will assume the quantity you entered has the same units as the BeerXML entry for that field (which is usuall SI). For example, if you enter "20 asdf" into a volume field while in US mode, you will see "5.283 gal" because Brewtarget assumed you meant "20 L" and then converted to US units. In other words, always use a valid unit suffix.

Controlling unit and scale

A new feature to Brewtarget v2.0 is the ability to control what units are used in the display and how they scale. In any field where it makes sense (volumes, weights, temperatures and gravities), you can right-click the associated label and be presented with the unit and scale menu.

Volumes will present you with the options "default", "SI", "US Customary" and "British Imperial"; weights will present you with the options "default", "SI" and "US Customary"; temperatures will present the options "default", "Celsius" and "Fahrenheit"; gravities will show "default", "Plato" and "Specific Gravity".

Selecting one of those options will cause that field to be displayed in the selected unit. So you can, for example, display Boil SG and OG in Plato, but FG in specific gravity.

You can also select the scale for any volume or weight field. You can use this to, for example, cause your target batch size to be displayed in quarts instead of gallons.

You can do the same thing in any of the ingredient tabs by right clicking on the column header. This will allow you to display your hops in grams, but keep your fermentables displayed in pounds.

Caveats with Auto-conversion

With US and Imperial units, people have a tendency to sometimes put a trailing "s" or a period at the end (hrs, hrs., etc.). Brewtarget only supports singular no-period units to be consistent with the metric system. This is a common error among users since the habit is so ingrained. The units supported, and the exact unit abbreviation you should use are given below.

Supported Units

US Customary and British Imperial Units

The abbreviations are the same as for US Customary and British Imperial units, but they denote the appropriate quantity in each system.

Unit Scale Abbreviation
Mass/Weight (BeerXML pretends they are the same)
Pounds lb
ounces oz
Gallons gal
Quarts qt
Cups cp
Tablespoon tbs
Teaspoon tsp
Fahrenheit F

Metric Units

Unit Scale Abbreviation
Mass/Weight (BeerXML pretends they are the same)
Kilograms kg
Grams g
Milligrams mg
Liters L
Milliliters mL
Celsius C
Kelvin K

Shared Units

Unit Scale Abbreviation
Days day
Hours hr
Minutes min
Seconds s

New in this release

Brewtarget v2.0 has been long in the making, mostly because we have done a massive reworking of the internals.


We have replaced the old XML files with a brand new SQLite database. We have spent a long time making this as transparent as possible. If we have done our jobs well, the only thing most users should notice is brewtarget seems to load faster and is a bit faster in other places.

We will be using this change to implement inventory, multi-level undo, automatic versioning of recipes, etc. We also hope to allow you to decide which database engine you want to use -- SQLite and mysql at least, postgresql likely.

Units and Scales

This has been a very requested feature that has taken us a long time to implement correctly. You can now override the default unit (e.g., US Customary) per field, and you can control the scale (so your hops are always displayed in grams, no matter how many kilos you are adding).

Tree Views

The trees continue to evolve. They are now split into their own separate tabs and can be sorted on the fields displayed. The next release will let you select which fields are displayed and hopefully allow you to define folders.

Default Equipment

You can select one piece of equipment as the default and any new recipe will have that automatically defined as the equipment. You can do this by opening the equipment profile and selecting the "Set as default" option in the upper left.

Hop Utilization

You can configure your hop utilization from the equipment screen. This may cause your recipes to show 0 IBU. If you are seeing this, set your hop utilization to 100 on your equipment.