Recipe Calculator Reviews (No Comments)

I’ve been using QBrew as my recipe calculator for quite some time, and although I like it, I’m interested in alternatives that will allow me to publish my recipes as html. Here is the Beerios recipe as output by QBrew: Beerios Recipe. The output isn’t very pretty, and more importantly it’s missing a lot of info. The obvious ones are that the hops are missing the percent alpha acid, and the malts are missing their specific gravity and color. It’s also missing details about the yeast and the database of grains, extracts, and styles is very limited without a gui based way to edit it (at least it’s in xml files). I’d also like to see the final color output as a graphic, but that’s pretty nit-picky. The tool is open source so I could take it upon myself to edit it, but it has more shortcomings than I’d care to fix.

That said, I have used several other tools out there. My favorite was a web tool at BeerTools. It was both simple and powerful with a great database of malt and grain. However, to use it I had to register on their site, and to get any real use, I would have to subscribe to their site. I don’t have a philosophical opposition to paying for good software, but their tool didn’t quite seem like it was worth the money. On top of that, when I registered for their site, the password that I entered was sent back to me in plain text, so I’m not comfortable giving them credit card info.

TastyBrew also has a number of online recipe calculators, that as collection offer some great quick calculations. Their primary recipe calculator is way too limited though.

When I started brewing, I purchased a copy of ProMash. I used it several times, but never really liked it. The name implies that it’s target is the professional brewer, and it definitely felt too complicated for the beginning brewer. The interface was also incredibly clumsy and it wanted to keep track stock level and had an odd batch focused (instead of recipe focused) implementation. I felt like the software was trying to force a workflow upon me, that didn’t apply. I wasn’t convinced it would satisfy a real brewery either, as the software just seemed hard to use. I’ve since lost the disc, but I’m not sure I would try it again anyway. Between a clunky interface and missing features, I really can’t recommend this software.

There are two other tools available that I looked into several years ago and am ready to try again: BeerSmith and StrangeBrew. They’re both more complex solutions and I found QBrew at the same time. BeerSmith has a 21-day free trial, so I only used it for the one recipe that I was brewing that month. It’s a very powerful tool with way more functionality than I needed or wanted at the time. I think I am going to give this one another chance. I’m interested in the more advanced features now, and in 21-days I can enter in several of my recipes and see if it satisfies all of my needs. Something I wasn’t ready to do when I first started brewing. As for StrangeBrew, I’m really only aware it because the Bodensatz forums use it for sharing recipes. I’ll give it a try too and post my impressions of both.

– Chris

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