I've decided to start brewing my own beer again. I once entertained a thought of actually brewing and selling my beer someday, but right now I'll just settle for brewing. It's been about 4 years since I seriously (seriously meaning 2 or more batches a year...which isn't that serious!) brewed, and two since I've made anything at all! But it's fun and easy to do, and I'm hoping to get back on the horse.
I decided to look for an online and free utility for brewing, and after a couple of quick searches I saw mention of Brewtility on a brewing forum. The site first came online as a place to store and share recipes as well as communicate with other brewers. It has a recipe generator (more on this later) and will soon have the ability to log brew sessions. Sounds awesome to me - I'm tired of using pencil and paper, and besides my brewing notes are so scattered, it'll be good to put them all in one spot online.
I've had a couple of glitches with it. I can't seem to upload a profile photo, and the recipe generator crapped out once on me trying to select hops for the recipe. In its defense, it auto-saved what I had done, so I didn't have to go back and rebuild the malt bill. I've emailed support about the picture (Cuz it's that cool picture of sailors drinking beer on shore leave in WWII.)
My first recipe is going to be an IPA. I made one a few years back that came out okay, but I missed my target gravity (that means I didn't have the amount of fermentable sugar I'd planned when I started fermenting and therefore came out "light" on the alcohol content). So, as best I could remember (I have the notes somewhere!) I put together the recipe on the generator and was very impressed. Adding and subtracting ingredients is pretty intuitive. It flows well from top to bottom, and you can play with everything from mashing efficiency to the alpha acid content of the hops you select. You can also work in whatever scale/measurement system you want to use by adjusting your preferences.
The menus for recipe items (grains, extracts, hops and yeast) are pretty good, they even have "generic" liquid extract values on there, but not dry ones, which I prefer to use. Still, assuming one is like the other I could pick a DME (I used Breiss vice Coopers which I prefer). It would be nice to see a way to submit new items for consideration. The generator will even go as far to predict the final gravity, %ABV and calorie content for your beer.
So all that's left is to verify what I put in with my old notes and go from there. Once I dig up my gear, figure out what I need to replace, and buy the recipe.
All in all, I like what I see so far in Brewtility. It's not a big network - only a handful of active users - right now, but it has what I need so far until I can find a full-blown social network for actual brewers. I'll keep looking.