Brewer's Friend

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Brewer's Friend

Postby brahn on Mon Mar 04, 2013 4:25 pm

I'm a long time user and fan of Beer Alchemy for Mac/iPhone/iPad, but they recently released a version 2 which removed several of the features that I use heavily and really made the interface painful to use. This prompted me to take a look at other options to replace my trusty Beer Alchemy.

The main things I was looking for were the ability to maintain recipes, batches / brew sessions and inventory. It needs to work on the Mac, sync between multiple pc's and ideally work with the iPhone/iPad. The only options I really came up with were Beer Alchemy, BeerSmith, Brewer's Friend and BeerTools Pro.

I was biased against the web apps, so the first thing I tried was BeerSmith. I really wasn't impressed. Maybe it's just not very good on the Mac, but I found the interface to be ugly and complicated. Creating/editing a recipe wasn't easy and since that's the bread and butter of the app I passed.

I gave the Brewer's Friend trial a shot and used it for my brew session yesterday. It didn't start off great. I had everything in there in the days before and when I went to brew yesterday the site was down. It's a good thing I had printed the recipe out and played with the calculators a bunch the night before so I knew the ballpark for my strike water. It came back up shortly after I mashed in and things went pretty smoothly from there. It took me a little while to understand how to enter the log entries to move the process along, but once I figured it out I liked the way it was implemented. Some things are still a little confusing, I'm not sure what the difference between Mash Complete and Pre-Boil Gravity log entries is supposed to be.

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They have an iPhone app, but it doesn't connect to the cloud so it's pretty useless to me except maybe as a tool to quickly work up a recipe that I have no intention of brewing. That happens occasionally, but not all that often. The mobile web interface is pretty decent and makes the most common stuff pretty easy to do on the iPhone.

It does have some rough edges, but it's under very active development and they are doing releases every month. The author is all over the forums answering questions and getting feature suggestions which is encouraging.

In the end, I think it's worth $10/year to keep everything in one place where I can access it from any device so I think I've found my new solution. It has support for BeerXML import/export, so I can get my old recipes in and I can always get everything out if I decide I want to switch later.

http://www.brewersfriend.com
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brahn
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Re: Brewer's Friend

Postby jward on Mon Apr 21, 2014 11:34 am

Are you still using Brewers Friend? I grabbed a copy of the free version for iPad. It looks promising. I don't see inventory or shopping list features.
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Re: Brewer's Friend

Postby brahn on Tue Apr 22, 2014 10:51 am

I am still using it, but I'm a little hesitant to recommend it right now. The original owner/developer recently sold the company/site to the company that owns HBT. Since then development seems to be at a standstill and communication is not what it used to be. There's a guy who comes on the forum to answer questions but I haven't seen any action yet.

I still re-upped my subscription since I'd already bought in to the system, but I don't know if I'd recommend making the switch right now until we see how the new owners are going to respond.

The iPad/iPhone apps are nice for brewday and viewing recipes, but the inventory and other features are only available on the web site. You'd think they'd at least add the shopping list to the iOS apps so you could easily take it to the LHBS with you.
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