BeerSmith Software and Forum with Creator Brad Smith
In this post, I want to introduce Brad Smith, creator of the BeerSmith Home Brewing Software. In addition to his well known home brewing software, he also runs the very popular BeerSmith Forum where over 19,000 members discuss beer brewing tips, recipes, and general beer talk.
Being an expert in the home brewing community, I wanted to bring Brad here to share a bit about himself and his home brewing community. He gave some great insight below that I know you’ll enjoy.
Interview with Brad Smith
When did you start your forum, and why did you create it?
I started the BeerSmith forum back in about 2004, shortly after I released BeerSmith 1. It was originally intended to serve as a place for people to ask questions about BeerSmith software and offer support, but it has grown substantially since then.
What do you feel makes the BeerSmith community special?
The forum is a community of home and professional brewers, all dedicated to making better beer. As the BeerSmith software grew, the forum grew with it and people started to use it more for general discussion about ingredients, brewing techniques and beer rather than just focusing on the software.
Also I think the forum has a professional feel to it as we have moderators that do keep it relatively clean so we don’t have the bad language, X-rated pictures, etc… that some other forums seem to suffer from.
For someone new to beer, brewing, and this community, how do they get the most out of it?
The easiest way to get involved is to jump in and start posting. There is an “Introductions” area on the board to let people introduce themselves, but just about any general brewing question will get a few responses if you post one.
Also I encourage people to subscribe to the BeerSmith newsletter – which sends you an article on beer brewing every week and also watch the new stuff coming out on the BeerSmith blog as I have a bi-weekly podcast and new articles there as well.
Has anything surprised you about owning a forum about beer?
The biggest negative surprise was the challenge in keeping the forum free of spammers. As the forum has grown it has also become a target for people trying to put spam, link-bait and other junk on it. We have a good suite of software and moderators in place to fight it now but it has been a challenge over the years.
On the positive side, it has been very successful (some 19,000+ members) and that has been rewarding.
If you could magically give all of your community members one thing in this world, what would it be, and why?
I would give them the ability to make better beer. That’s why most of them visit the forum, buy my software, and participate in the homebrewing hobby – so whatever I can do to help them make better beer – I’m all for it!
If you could ask your group members one thing and get an answer from all of them, what would that question be?
Hard to say – I do ask for feedback through my newsletter email list all the time and I always get some great responses and new ideas from that. However, for me it all comes down to again finding out what I can do better to support the community and help people make better beer.
Feel free to give a shout-out to some of your power-users or most active members. Does anyone come to mind, and what do you like most about them?
My hat goes off to the moderators on the forum who are on there every day making sure the discussions don’t get out of control, as well as keeping the spammers from taking over the entire forum. I also really do appreciate some of the power users who answer questions – often long before I’m able to get to them.
What are some of the hot topics that seem to always be discussed within the community?
Other than the BeerSmith software itself, most of the discussion is centered around brewing better beer – whether it be coming up with a great new recipe, trying out a new technique or troubleshooting a difficult problem.
What are some of the most underrated beers that people should try?
There are some amazing Craft beers being produced thoroughout the country now. I’m not sure they are underrated, but I enjoy Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, just about anything from Russian River brewery and Edmund Fitzgerald Porter from Great Lakes brewing just to name a few. I’m also a fan of many classics like Guinness and Bass Ale.
Thanks Brad for taking time to talk to The Types of Beer about you and your beer home brewing community! Be sure to check out the BeerSmith site for latest in beer home brewing.