Homebrew Software Collaborative Review

by Karl | Updated: March 5, 2012

A handful of us homebrewing bloggers on HomebrewTalk got together and decided to do a group review of brewing software programs a la The Session.

Devon over at Hollis Brewing Company is spearheading the effort and has links to all of the review posts.

My assignment was to review iBrewMaster for the Mac platform. iBrewMaster is a newer program and I’ve heard good things about the iPad version so I thought I’d give it a shot on my MacBook.

I was disappointed to find that I couldn’t give iBrewMaster a proper review due to the bugs in the program. It crashed on me 5 times while I was using it. If the bugs were triggered for oddball things (like using a calculator) then I’d be able to work about them, but actions as critical as adding grains and hops caused the program to go down. Pretty frustrating.

So I’ll do what I can and try to make this as constructive as possible.

One thing I really like about iBrewMaster is the design. It’s got that Mac look and feel and everything is nice and orderly. The recipe interface reads top to bottom in a pyramid-like fashion – the higher level vitals are at the top and the bottom gets into the details and ingredient entry area.

iBrewMaster Recipe Screen

Across the top you can see nice looking icons to bring you to ingredient lists, recipes, and tools/utilities. It’s uncluttered and the grouping make sense. I didn’t feel overwhelmed at all by the choices which is a good thing.

One feature I like and that I have seen in another program is the distinction between recipes and batches. I brew many recipes more than once in order to perfect them, and no two batches are ever identical. They have different gravities, efficiencies, fermentation temperatures, etc. I’d like to be able to enter a base recipe for say, my citra pale ale, and then have a list of the batches I’ve brewed to that recipe.

Unfortunately the execution wasn’t as good as the idea in iBrewMaster. When I went to create a batch for the citra pale ale I got hit with the buggy interface you see below. It also was not obvious how to add a batch. When looking at the recipe interface, I couldn’t tell whether I was looking at the base recipe or the batch I created. I think there needs to be a very clear distinction to ensure that you don’t accidentally edit a recipe thinking it’s a batch.

iBrewMaster Add Batch

Unfortunately that’s as far as I got before the bugs forced me to give up. I managed to get some grains entered but the first hop entry crashed the program and I got fed up. I’d be happy to review it again once the bugs are worked out, but at the moment I cannot recommend iBrewMaster for Mac. As I said earlier, the iPad and iPhone versions may be different, and I have heard good things about them so don’t let me experience prevent you from trying those platforms.

One final note is that I’ve sent iBrewMaster 2 messages over the past month (just asking questions before I purchased) and haven’t gotten a response. If software support is something that’s important to you, then this is something to keep in mind.

Leave a comment if you’d like to share what brewing software you use and what you think about it.

Lead marketer, brewer, dad, and husband. Pretty much an all-round awesome guy.