Saturday, November 20, 2010

Brewing Software Review: QBrew

Freeware downloadable from
Overall Grade C-

First, the good news: The program is quick and easy to use. Now the bad: It is at version 0.4.1, so it is far from being complete according to the vision of its creator. Due to being incomplete the fit and finish isn't exactly first-rate from top to bottom. And the last time it was updated was 2008, so it seems unlikely we will ever see Version 1.0, or even Version 0.mostly-done.

QBrew will open its own *.qbrew files, or the ubiquitous BeerXML files created by other programs. Since the last development work for QBrew was done in 2008 it doesn't have the 2008 Style Guidelines, and so a Black IPA recipe I created as a Category 23 Specialty Beer came through as a "Generic Ale." Even after I added "Specialty Beer" to the styles list it didn't show up until I closed and restarted the program. And the recipe I just had open didn't show up on the recent files menu item.

The configuration of the program seems incomplete. Even though I have "US" measurement units and a default batch size of 5 gallons selected under "Configure", my batch size comes up as 20.80 liters for a recipe imported from other software. You can select Tinsleth or Morey for IBU calculations, but neither is selected by default. There is a help selector icon, but almost nothing in the UI is selectable with it.

The UI Is a bit clunky in places but generally it works as expected. There is a calculator for alcohol based on OG/FG, and one for hydrometer correction. The database editor lets you add grains, hops, styles and miscellaneous ingredients, but when you click the plus button to add items they go to the top of the list and are named "Generic." I tried to add one ingredient twice before I figured out what was going on.

This software is OK as far as it goes, but I have a tough time recommending it when there are better options online, or as freeware. And there are better options out there. It's a shame because this project looks like it was off to a great start.

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