Brewer’s Friend is a website that features a wide range of beer brewing tools and calculators for a wide range of purposes, most of which are completely free. The range of resources is fairly decent, with charts, brew sheets, guides, infographics, and various calculators for all levels of brewing.
While these individual features are useful for a quick reference, the real winner on the Brewer’s Friend website is the complete Brewer’s Friend Recipe Builder. It’s a lightweight but powerful online beer calculator that can be customized to suit your needs and allows one to set their own equipment statistics and save recipes for sharing or later use.
The Brewer’s Friend complete beer recipe builder may not be as in-depth or as precisely tuned as some downloadable software like ProMash or BeerSmith, but it is a super simple online calculator that allows fast input and calculations, making it easy to scale recipes up or down and make any change to a recipe and easily see the predicted results. The list of fermentables is extremely comprehensive but still limits users to those available on the calculator itself.
The recipe builder measures ABV (alcohol content), IBU (bitterness), SRM (color), and OG and FG (density of liquid). It can be used in metric or US imperial measurements and has many advanced features such as automatic beer style matching, brewing equipment profiling, and several other surprisingly high quality measurements – it can even calculate loss and boil-off fairly accurately. It even has a label generator!
Scaling up above 100 liters (just under 1 BBL), I start to lose some accuracy, but I think this has more to do with my use of the equipment profile than the calculator itself. Saving recipes, printing, and scaling up require signing up and paying a small yearly fee (USD $9.99 at the time of writing), which is more affordable than many other beer math programs and beer brewing software options.
For a complete list of features, check out their pricing page: Click Here
Free vs Paid
You can use the recipe builder as a highly complex calculator, but you will soon tire of having to input your equipment profile every time and manually recreate your recipes from memory every time. You can sign up to Brewer’s Friend for free, which allows you up to five saved recipes as a free trial. You will then be able to access many of the advanced features, such as the label generator, recipe scaling, and the ‘Brew’ button – which takes you through brew day!
The fully paid version, at less than $10 per year, gives you unlimited access to these features and allows you to delete recipes as well. It’s a minimal investment for a decent and highly accessible piece of cloud-based brewing software.
- Very easy to use; much simpler than more advanced and costly software, but still surprisingly accuracy
- Optimized for mobile and PC.
- Completely mobile brewing software – you can log in and use the recipe builder from anywhere on any device with a web browser
- Advanced tools, such as brewing water treatment and four different efficiency calculators
- Some cool features like the label generator and the ‘Brew’ button
- Inexpensive and comes with a free trial option
- Recipe sharing and forums
- Ability to instantly scale recipes
- Less costly than other popular software options
- Very good range of pre-populated ingredients
- You can import/export recipes using BeerXML (standard brewing recipe file type)
- Inventory tracking
- Requires sign-up to save recipes and access the best features, and paid membership to have more than five recipes
- Not as precise or in-depth as ProMash or BeerSmith for pro brewers
- Possibly loses accuracy with larger batches
Brewer’s Friend Recipe Builder is my ‘go to’ calculator for when I am doing my beer math before I actually decide on my final recipe and use BeerSmith. In fact, for home brew-sized batches I still often use BeerSmith as my primary recipe builder when I don’t want the added complications of using more advanced software.
If you want to keep your math simple and don’t need to brew commercial quantities or repeat the same recipe often with high uniformity, the Brewer’s Friend Recipe Builder could become your new best friend. Give the free trial version a go and see what you think.
To get the Brewer’s Friend Recipe calculator, click here.
If you have any questions or you have any feedback about the calculator, please let us know in the comments!