One of the key aspects of homebrew is recipe formulation and management. Creating a tasty brew that meets the characteristics of its target style is no easy task, involving many calculations and variables (color, bitterness, specific gravity, etc).
So it's not surprising that there are several homebrew software programs such as QBrew, CyberBrau, DrewBrew, ProMash, Strangebrew and SUDS, available to assist with these crucial tasks.
After reviewing all of these programs, two freeware products are recommended.
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For an excellent freeware homebrew recipe program, QBrew is the only, but very deserving, choice. It has an intuitive and simple interface and is excellent for formulating recipes quickly (about half the time as BeerSmith, a commercial program). Recipe entry and ingredient database management is extremely simple. Each recipe is stored in a separate file and can be exported in BeerXML format for sharing and/or importing into other BeerXML-enabled applications such as BeerSmith. The summary pane also lists the maximum and minimum gravity, bitterness, and color levels according to standardized style definitions published by the Beer Judge Certification Program. This is useful if you're brewing for a competition, or targeting a particular style.
QBrew's recipe calculations seem to be more accurate than BeerSmith's, but don't accept that as a guarantee! Home brewing systems vary in efficiency and the calculation results are served as guidelines. Both BeerSmith and QBrew can be extracted from the installation archive and run from a USB flash drive.
For those interested in a web-based beer recipe application for a personal web site and then accessed from anywhere, CyberBrau is very appealing. It features recipe formulation and management, batch tracking, a reviewing system, and other useful utilities. It also supports multiple users and is great for sharing recipes, tracking batches through the entire process, and sharing comments on recipes.
Many thanks to Craig Vollmar for preparing the original review on which this article is based.
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