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General Category => Equipment and Software => Topic started by: Stevie on December 18, 2013, 04:11:45 AM

Title: Software
Post by: Stevie on December 18, 2013, 04:11:45 AM
I have been using Beer Alchemy for 6 or 7 years. I am still using version 1 because I didn't like some of the changes the developer made in version 2. I have been playing with both BeerTools and BeerSmith, and don't really like either enough to make the jump.

So I am at a thee way fork and need some guidance.

Below are some of the pluses and minuses I have off the top of my head. Please respond with your own pluses and minuses and/or try to persuade me.

BeerSmith
$28 + $8 for mobile
+ Cross platform allowing for tinkering at work and home
+ Mobile App
+ Online syncing, though it seems like it isn't automatic
- Hours of work to move my recipes and batches over
- Look and feel, just looks cheap and I don't like the whole tab thing
- No support for batches

BeerTools
$35 + subscription
+ Cross platform allowing for tinkering at work and home
+ Web based mobile app (subscription required?)
+ Online syncing, still not automatic
+ Looks nice
- Hours of work to move my recipes and batches over
- No support for batches
- Web based mobile app

BeerAlchemy
$20 upgrade ($30 new) + $20 Universal iOS App
+ Familiar
+ Seamless migration
+ Batches  ;D
- Syncing over WiFi but no online syncing, not even with iCloud
- Mac and iOS only, no fiddling at work
- Can no longer fiddle with the final gravity when building new recipes. Only gives three levels of fermentability. I know with a low mash and 3711 my Saison can get 92% attenuation not the 84% the software tells me.
- New interface is different from before, but not awful
- New desktop app doesn't sync with the old iOS apps forcing a double upgrade

Side question - What do these developers have against two word names?
Title: Re: Software
Post by: kramerog on December 18, 2013, 02:56:38 PM
What do you mean by batches?  Different batches of the same recipe? 

Re FG, I am using BeerSmith 1.0 and I'm pretty sure that it won't give me an accurate FG for saison.  Perhaps BeerSmith 2.0 is better.  My gut is that FG estimates work only for "normal" ales in the various softwares, not for Belgian yeasts at higher temperatures.

Do any of them explicitly support parti-gyle?
Title: Re: Software
Post by: cheshirecat on December 18, 2013, 05:37:11 PM
I like Beersmith a great deal. Works very well for me and Brad (the developer) is always open to feedback. Don't understand what you mean by batches either. I have "master recipes" and then I am able to record each batch I make of it. I even have them filled in a folder for each year.

In the end I would go with you find best.
Title: Re: Software
Post by: kylekohlmorgen on December 18, 2013, 07:20:34 PM
I couldn't be happier with BeerSmith. Its extremely functional, the support is fantastic, and it grows with you as a brewer.

Any tool/spreadsheet/software will allow you to build recipes, but I'm sold on BeerSmith because it allows you to factor in your equipment and process. It has helped me dial in efficiency, evaporation rate, volume losses, utilization, and even attenuation. And the best part - you don't have to do this all at once. Start small, get a feel for the software, and gradually explore its features.

Can you explain the 'batches' functionality in BeerAlchemy?

I believe you can import recipes via .xml format, as long as BeerAlchemy can export them.
Title: Re: Software
Post by: Stevie on December 18, 2013, 07:46:40 PM
So here is the basic way batches work in BeerAlchemy.

1 - Create a recipe
2 - When ready to brew you make a batch from that recipe. Batches are where you keep track of all the stats (volumes, gravity, date brewed, date racked, date packaged) on your brew and you can make modifications to the batch without affecting the parent recipe.
3 - Brew
4 - If the batch was amazing, it can be promoted to a recipe. If I am not ready to promote, the next batch can be made off of a previous batch or the parent.

The way it is displayed is great as well.  Think Window Explorer view or MacOS details view with the carrots that can be expanded and collapsed. This way it only shows recipes and not batches. I have 100+ recipes and 200+ batches, but only the recipes are visible at the start.

> Recipe A
> Recipe B
 |__ Batch 1 of Recipe B
> Recipe C
 |__ Batch 1 of Recipe C
 |__ Batch 2 of Recipe C

Also, one recipe can be sorted into multiple folders. I keep my recipes sorted by source (Zymurgy, Clones, Friends, Made by Me...) and then have a folder for planned brews. If I delete an item from a folder it is only deleted from the folder, not deleted from the database. Think of the folders as a playlist in music software.
 
Batches are also inventory aware. If I create a recipe calling for 1oz of Cascade 5% and I have 6.3%, the batch will adjust the amount automatically. I don't adjust additions below 20 minutes, so I do tweak them there, but sometimes it is smart enough on it own. Here is a screenshot of the latest version - http://www.beeralchemyapp.com/images/popover-large.png

After brewing I then mark the batch as brewed which locks it down so no modifications can be made to the recipe and adjusts my inventory.

I fiddled with BeerTools more last night and it is starting to grow on me, but no syncing and no native mobile app is still a big sticking point.
Title: Re: Software
Post by: micsager on December 18, 2013, 10:20:27 PM
Beersmith allows batches.  Look to the "Version #."

Title: Re: Software
Post by: Stevie on December 18, 2013, 10:22:22 PM
Beersmith allows batches.  Look to the "Version #."

I will have to mess with that when I get home and see if I like it. Thanks
Title: Re: Software
Post by: tschmidlin on December 19, 2013, 12:03:42 AM
Beersmith allows batches.  Look to the "Version #."

I will have to mess with that when I get home and see if I like it. Thanks
Using beersmith, I find it easier to use the brew log to track what I did on a given day.  I have my recipe saved in the recipe section, and when I start brewing I add it to the brew log.  Then I go to the log and change stuff there to track hop/malt substitutions, actual fermentation profile, actual OG/FG, etc.  If I want to change the base recipe then I change the version of it in the recipe section.

But it is super annoying that when you move something to the brew log it does not change the date to the current date, it keeps it as whatever the recipe has as the date.  So the first thing I do when I switch to the brew log is change the date.
Title: Re: Software
Post by: Stevie on December 19, 2013, 12:07:33 AM
What can somebody tell me about using BeerSmith across multiple computers? Basically, I am looking for one collection available at home, work and mobile. Automatically synced would be a plus, but one button sync is ok.
Title: Re: Software
Post by: james on December 19, 2013, 01:21:25 AM
What can somebody tell me about using BeerSmith across multiple computers? Basically, I am looking for one collection available at home, work and mobile. Automatically synced would be a plus, but one button sync is ok.

I keep beersmith in a drop box folder so it is available on each of my devices. Of course you shouldn't open multiple copies at once
Title: Re: Software
Post by: yso191 on December 19, 2013, 02:40:05 AM
What can somebody tell me about using BeerSmith across multiple computers? Basically, I am looking for one collection available at home, work and mobile. Automatically synced would be a plus, but one button sync is ok.

You can keep your recipes in the cloud.  That way they are available wherever you happen to be.  BTW I too really like BeerSmith.
Title: Software
Post by: tommymorris on December 19, 2013, 01:38:29 PM
Beersmith has it's own cloud where you can store 10 recipes for free or pay for more storage. I keep all active  recipes (from brew day until the keg is empty) in the cloud. This way I can access any active recipe on my phone or PC anytime. The syncing is automatic. There is a sync button but it seems that button is not needed.

When a keg is empty I archive the recipe on my PC. After archiving I can't see the recipe on my phone anymore. I could store a local copy on the phone if I wanted.
Title: Re: Software
Post by: Jimmy K on December 19, 2013, 01:57:21 PM
I use Beersmith and like it. I bought the mobile version for my Kindle fire and love the syncing.
BeerSmith
$28 + $8 for mobile
+ Cross platform allowing for tinkering at work and home
+ Mobile App
+ Online syncing, though it seems like it isn't automatic
It gives you a cloud folder and all recipes in that folder are synced automatically. You can have 10 recipes in that folder for free and you can pay an annual fee to have more. For me, 10 is enough. For someone who brews a lot maybe not. The mobile app has a brew day timer so you load a recipe and it sets alarms for whatever you need to remember to do.

- Hours of work to move my recipes and batches over
BeerAlchemy will export BeerXML files which Beersmith can import. I'm sure BeerTools can too as well.

- Look and feel, just looks cheap and I don't like the whole tab thing
I guess that's personal.

- No support for batches
I don't know what you mean by 'batches'. Edit: I should have finished reading the other responses. Yes, you can do batches. It's just a little different setup.

Side question - What do these developers have against two word names?
Well, I'm sure BeerSmith is a play on blacksmith (also, it's written by Brad Smith). I don't know about the others.

BrewToad is a new one. I think it's entirely online so no worries about syncing or buying apps for different devices. Downside is you must have internet to use it. Also, another one word trademark.
Title: Re: Software
Post by: weithman5 on December 19, 2013, 02:35:05 PM
i do like my ibrewmaster.  i like being able to tinker on my phone while i am watching my wife spend my hard earned gold.
Title: Re: Software
Post by: Stevie on December 19, 2013, 04:23:06 PM
Drop box is a good idea, but blocked by work firewall.  >:(

iBrewmaster looks interesting, but no windows version.  :-\

Does BeerSmith manage the files for the user in a database, or does it work more traditionally where you have individual files to manage? Is there one file that can be copied to a flashdrive and opened on another computer with all of the recipes and data?
Title: Re: Software
Post by: micsager on December 19, 2013, 04:31:45 PM
Beersmith allows batches.  Look to the "Version #."

I will have to mess with that when I get home and see if I like it. Thanks
Using beersmith, I find it easier to use the brew log to track what I did on a given day.  I have my recipe saved in the recipe section, and when I start brewing I add it to the brew log.  Then I go to the log and change stuff there to track hop/malt substitutions, actual fermentation profile, actual OG/FG, etc.  If I want to change the base recipe then I change the version of it in the recipe section.

But it is super annoying that when you move something to the brew log it does not change the date to the current date, it keeps it as whatever the recipe has as the date.  So the first thing I do when I switch to the brew log is change the date.
+1, I too miss this step lots of times. 
Title: Re: Software
Post by: BrewingRover on December 22, 2013, 08:19:27 PM
Drop box is a good idea, but blocked by work firewall.  >:(

iBrewmaster looks interesting, but no windows version.  :-\

Does BeerSmith manage the files for the user in a database, or does it work more traditionally where you have individual files to manage? Is there one file that can be copied to a flashdrive and opened on another computer with all of the recipes and data?

BeerSmith stores its data in various .bsmx files. You'd need to copy the whole directory to be assured of getting all the ingredient and equipment data.
Title: Re: Software
Post by: Bruce B on December 23, 2013, 06:36:29 AM
I've been using Beersmith for several years now and I'm very satisfied with it.  I gave BeerTools a try but the thought of paying a subscription fee is a waste to me.  I don't have a Mac so BeerAlchemy is out.

You can do batches in Beersmith.  There is a version field for each recipe.  One can copy and paste a recipe and then update the version field when they go to make the next batch. 

For backup and web posting I use brewblogger (www.brewblogger.net).  It's free but you have to use it on your own web hosted account (www.bbbrew.com).  Recipes and brew sessions can be exchanged between the two using BeerXML file exporting and importing.  Additional back ups are done using a backup drive when I do regular backups of my workstation.