When it comes to brewing, there are no shortage of apps and programs available. If you do not know what to brew, there is an app for that, or if you have a recipe in mind and just want to change it up to hit a certain ABV, then there are tools to do that for you. The hard part is not finding an app, it is knowing which app out of many to use. We are going to have a look at some of the bigger pieces of software for use on your computer, smaller mobile apps and also a couple of fun little things that, whilst they wont revolutionize your brewing world, will certainly either inspire or enlighten you.
Beersmith 2 is one of the larger and most complete bits of software for the home brewer. Featuring a 21 day free trial and with versions available for Windows, Mac and Linux in the form of pre built debs for Debian / Ubuntu, it will work on most computer systems. It has far too many features to go through here, however some of the main features are an inventory to keep track of all your ingredients, s shopping list which it can automatically add any ingredients you are missing to brew any particular recipe. Full recipe design, revisions and substitutions if you want to try something different in a batch. Easy to use tools to scale recipes or to change the amount of ingredients in a recipe to meet a certain ABV, Colour or IBU point. Brewing calendar, notes, calculators, unit converters, and many others. It’s hard to think of anything missing, and if you do, they will probably add it in a new version if you ask them nicely. Beersmith currently costs around £18 depending on exchange rates.
Beer Tools Pro
Offering many of the features of Beersmith 2 is Beer Tools Pro 2. Also available for Windows, Mac and Linux computers, it is a little more expensive than Beersmith but does also offer a free trial if you want to give a go and see if you get on with it. BTP unfortunately seems to be mainly supported by a patchy and incomplete Wiki which hasn’t been updated since January 2012 and the software does seem to be less well developed and updated than Beersmith. Whilst you have an inventory there is no obvious shopping list functionality, or many of the additional tools and calculators. It feels like a cut down version of Beersmith and whilst it may be some peoples preference, it hasn’t convinced me to move to it.
Brewtoad is something a little bit different. For a start it is a website, so you are not restricted to windows or any other platform. You do however need to be online, which may be an issue for some people. It’s quite fun being able to build up your recipe on the website, however it is annoying that I cannot find any obvious way to change from imperial to metric units. I’m sure this will not be a problem if you have been brought up using what we refer to as “Old Money” and are used to dealing in lbs and ozs. Brewtoad features a very comprehensive range of ingredients to choose from and you are able to easily edit things like Alpha acid levels, if you are using whole leaf or pellets, steeping or mashing etc. For a free online service, Brewtoad looks pretty comprehensive on the recipe handling front.
Another program offering recipe design is Beer Engine. In a time when most people are a bit more cost concious than normal, it also has the decided advantage of being free. It is however only available for Windows and should run on systems from Windows XP or newer. Described as a work in progress, unfortunately, so is the site, with nearly every page sending you to a holding page. If you want a no frills recipe editor that allows you the freedom to work on your recipe with minimal distractions, whilst it calculates your water volumes, ABV and IBUs for you, then this may be the software for you.
If Beersmith2 is the big daddy of brewing software, then this is it’s little brother. With plenty of tools, calculators and converters packed in to a mobile app, it also features the ability to load up your recipes from the desktop version via the cloud, and mash / boil timers that use those recipes to automatically alert you when its time for your next addition of hops etc, I’m forever using these timers and my brew day wouldn’t be the same without them. You can upgrade the lite version to a full mobile version now which also includes recipe editing, however I personally prefer to do that on the desktop version. Beersmith Lite Mobile is £2.49 for IOS , Android or £2.46 for Kindle fire
Should you describe your latest brew as a 13D Foreign Extra Stout or a 13F Russian Imperial Stout? If you are not entering a competition, then the truth is that it will probably not make much difference to you. However if you were to enter your beer in the wrong category you would lose points in any homebrew competition. BJCP Styles is a free Iphone app, that goes into quite a bit of detail about all the different styles. From aroma, appearance and flavour descriptions, through to history, ingredients, vital statistics and commercial examples of each style.
Stuck for what to brew next, or just looking for some inspiration to try a different style? What to brew is a free app available from the Apple App Store for IOS devices. Open the app up and you are given an idea of what you could brew next, some basic information about the style and links through to recipes on several internet sites. The app also features links to kits, however the links all appear to be for American suppliers, so this facility is unlikely to be of use for most UK brewers. It’s a fun little app and whilst you are not likely to brew everything it suggests, you may just feel adventurous enough on one brew day to give it a whirl and brew whatever it comes up with.
If you fancy yourself managing a brewery then this little number may be for you. Start off brewing in your garage and work your way up to your own full brewery and staff. Listen to customer feedback and do your market research to grow and improve. It’s unlikely to hold your attention for long if you are not a beer or brewing fan, but if you are then you can while away hours here very easily. A fun game for beer fans, with some minor annoyances, which you can work around if you try. Fiz is available for the iphone and will set you back £1.49 or £1.29 for Android
Have you got an app that you would like to see in our next run down? Have we missed your favourite brewing software? let us know in the comments below and we will be in touch.