Thursday, February 15, 2007

Homebrew Software

Well as I start to get ready to resume beer brewing I'm also going to be evaluating a few different software tools for developing, storing and tracking recipes. I've got Qbrew, BeerSmith and ProMash. Now Qbrew has the advantage of being Open Source and is therefore free. A hard price to beat. So far it is also the one I've looked at the most. It seems to be a bit less extensive in its abilities than the other two. ProMash, in particular, would seem to be able to do anything. Qbrew also has an annoying behavior in that changes to the database (what malts or hops are available) do not immediately show up in the program. When I add something I have to shut down and restart. It is, however, easy to use and will output the recipe in BeerXML format, which I like. I want to try a put together a set of tools, (XML, XSL and the like, perhaps including a MySQL database) for storing and displaying recipes. Using the BeerXML standard would be cool.

ProMash seems almost too complex, even intimidating, but I haven't looked at it very much so far. ProMash is billed as being usable for professional brewing, so it's imposing nature shouldn't be surprising. Also, it does not output in any XML format, although there exists a VB tool for converting ProMash text format into BeerXML format. ProMash also costs about $20, it is not free.

The BeerSmith tool also costs about $20. I've only started looking at it today. BeerSmith seems to be pretty easy to use, somewhat less imposing than ProMash. It also, like Qbrew, will output into BeerXML format. It has a nice feature of keeping up with inventory and putting together a shopping list. ProMash can do much the same.

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