What is BrewCipher?
BrewCipher is a free excel spreadsheet that acts as a recipe builder and brew day calculator. The download includes the main excel file (or open office spreadsheet), as well as instructions on how to get the most out of the spreadsheet. There are multiple tabs within the file that allow for different brew system parameters, recipe inputs, water chemistry, a brew day printout and a tab to add additional ingredients that aren’t included in the initial download.
How Does It Work?
There are instructions available from the author, but I’ll give you a brief rundown on what the spreadsheet allows you to input and calculate during your brew day.
You must have either Microsoft excel or Open Office for this spreadsheet to work since it uses macros for all of the functions and calculations. The “introduction” tab gives a quick explanation of what the spreadsheet offers and what has changed with each of the updates that have been released over the years.
In this tab you provide information about your brew house; including vessel volumes, deadpsace, trub loss, cooling loss and hose / pump loss. Every cell that has a red triangle will give you a detailed explanation as to what needs to be entered in the cell and also how to calculate the number to be entered in the cell. If you aren’t sure of your exact numbers in certain tabs (ie mash tun heat absorption value) then just use the provided approximate values initially, and then adjust as you brew more batches using this spreadsheet.
I found this tab to be pretty straightforward and is similar to recipe tabs in other well-known brew day calculators. You simply enter ingredients, quantities and times in their respective cells. This part of the spread sheet could us a little updating, in my opinion. It works great up until you want to brew something like an imperial IPA with tons of kettle and dry hop additions. Since I’m not an excel spreadsheet wizard, I haven’t tried to edit the file to allow for more hop additions. All default grains and hops are stored in the GRAINLOOKUP and HOPLOOKUP tabs. You have to use the AA% override if your hops at home do not match the default AA% that is stored in the spreadsheet’s database. You can also add additional grains, hops and yeast in their respective tabs. If extra ingredients are added to blue cells, then they will appear in their dropdown menus in the recipe builder dropdown tabs.
The water tab can be disregarded if you do not mess with your water chemistry. Because Houston tap water is unpredictable, I build my water from distilled and this tab has given me the same results as the other well-known water calculators out there. (Palmer’s sheet, Bru’n Water, etc.). You can even have your mineral additions show up on your brew day “print me” sheet.
I’m skipping over a few tabs wince they are just hydrometer / SG correction finders that all work just as well as anything else you can find on the internet. The “print me” sheet is what you will print out and read during your brew day. I print this sheet and make any notes about the brew day and I will write all of my actual numbers that I later transfer over to my brewing journal. This is one of my favorite features of BrewCipher.
Mash Efficiency Predictor
Here you will find how your efficiency might change if switching to a different mashing method. In the top blue cell, you select which mash style you are switching from and switching to. Initially, the bottom blue cell, leave your grain weight the same as your original recipe. The number provided will be the predicted change in efficiency percentage. You can then change your grain weight until you achieve the efficiency you desire with your new chosen mash method.
I’ve used BrewCipher for about 5 batches – all different styles from different ends of the spectrum. This spreadsheet does everything I need it to do for my brewing style and setup. I like to keep things cheap and simple, and this thing is FREE! Check it out HERE. The only thing I would like to see updated is some more cells / rows for hop additions in the recipe tab. Hopefully the author of the sheet continues to provide updates and new features.