Displaced Geek

Just a city geek and father coming to terms with being replanted in farm country

Posts Tagged ‘review

Recipe Site Showdown: The Finale

Previously: Parts 3, 2, & 1

Recipe Sharing:
Recipe export & social sharing. 15 points possible.
Look & Feel / Ease of Use:
Pretty self explanatory, includes general website usability, and brew specific qualities like east of transition from search to creation, etc. Important but possibly a bit subjective. 10 points possible.

It’s time to knock the rest of this out, because it’s gotten a bit depressing.

Brewersfriend allows recipe export to three formats: text, HTML, and BeerXML. the process is simple, and despite a plethora of warnings about possible discrepancies, I’ve never had any issues that a simple glance didn’t immediately identify, or any that were difficult to resolve. There are no so called “social” sharing options. 10/15

Hopville currently offers no social sharing or export functionality. 0/15
A quick E-Mail confirmed that active development of Hopville’s current version has been on hiatus for a while, but is planned to resume soon.

Brewtoad should be the clear winner in this category. The entire site is social, with several community-driven aspects built right in, including integration with all the social sites you’d expect. But though their about page claims that “[…]Brewtoad follows the BeerXML standard and allows you to import (or export) your recipes into our database with barely any effort.[…]”, and their support forums have several requests for it, they have no export option available whatsoever. 10/15
Although my query in their support forum went unanswered, Brewtoad did eventually claim via twitter that export is a “likely” feature for a 2013 rollout.

Look & Feel / Ease of Use:
Brewersfriend may be powerful, but it’s much more kludgy feeling than the other competitors. Working out recipes is about as much fun as using a slide rule. 5/10

Hopville is by far the easiest site to just “whip something up” on. It’s clean looking, the UI is more than moderately responsive, and everything is always right where you expect it to be – a highly intuitive design. 10/10

Brewtoad is pretty. When viewed on a touchscreen device, it’s probably perfect, which makes sense since it looks like that was their intent from the start. While mostly quick, the UI feels like those initial Web2.0 sites that did a lot of big floaty things with no purpose whatsoever. Every ingredient selection requires an entire new faux-window style popup, which feels like it slows things down. While clearly not the ideal interface for keyboard & mouse style interaction, recipe creation flows pretty well once you figure it out. 8/10

So I guess our results look like this:

Hopville: 11 + 40 + 10 = 61
Brewersfriend: 16 + 30 + 5 = 51
Brewtoad: 22 + 40 + 8 = 70

Brewtoad is the clear winner, so why do I feel like I wasted my time? Possibly because despite (or perhaps because of) my half-assed attempt at being scientific & impartial, I’m expressly dissatisfied with the results.

I started all of this nonsense because it felt like I’d been using a multitude of sites to brew, and I wanted to get it down to just one. But it doesn’t seem like that’s practical at the moment. Hopefully, Brewtoad or Hopville will work out their quirks, and I’ll be able to revisit the issue. They both show amazing potential, and make recipe creation a fun and engaging activity. But the inability of either one to let me export, coupled with my unwillingness to give up local access to my recipes,limits me to the option I described as both “klugdy”, and “about as much fun as using a slide rule”: Brewersfriend.

I warned you it was a little depressing.


Written by Peter

February 8, 2013 at 1630

Recipe Site Showdown Part 3: Recipe Creation

NB:I’ve decided to remove BeerTools’ recipe calculator from the showdown, as the free version has proven too limited for my use, and the goal was to find the site that I plan on continuing to use in the future. I’m sure it’s a great tool for those who can use it, but it’s not right for me.
From this point forward, we wil be comparing BrewersFriend (free version), Hopville, & Brewtoad.

Previously: Part 2 Search

Arguably the most important category, users should be able to import, create from scratch, & modify existing recipes as their own. Granularity of ingredient selection, assistance in matching style, and ability to “tweak” are key to this category. 50 points possible.

Since I was planning on working out an amber ale recipe anyway, I’ve decided that’s how I’m going to test the recipe creation functionality of these sites – a completely new recipe from the ground up.

My goal is to create a balanced 5 gallon partial mash American Amber Ale. I’ll be using The Brewmaster’s Bible as my recipe style guide.

Armed with the simplest partial mash amber ale I can come up with, we turn to BrewersFriend first.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Peter

January 28, 2013 at 1619

Posted in Homebrewing

Tagged with , , , , ,

Recipe Site Showdown Part 2: Search

Previously: The Setup

Recipe Search: It should be easy to find existing recipes by common criteria such as style, ingredients, and ABV. 25 points possible.

What good is a collection of all the best recipes in the world if you can’t find the one you want?

In a perfect world, we’d be able to find recipes by:

  • BJCP style
  • arbitrary text
  • ingredient
  • ABV
  • brewing style (all-grain, BIAB, etc)
  • ability to filter / sort results

so those are the subcategories we’ll score on. 0 – 4 for each yields us a total of 24 possible points for search. Everyone gets one point to “round” the ideal search score to 25.

First up is Hopville. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Peter

January 18, 2013 at 1106

And Knowing is Half the Battle.

HEADS UP: Since it REALLY BUGGED Emma, I reordered the list to match the image.

[…]the initial setup is only like $50-$80. But of course, then you have to build a kegerator, and buy a $300 stockpot, and buy kegs, and have your drunk friends over to drink your beer.

Then you have to buy more expensive beer to compare your end product too, and take your wife to breweries and homebrew shops on every vacation.

Then you decide you want to mortage your house to start a microbrewery with some friends, the wife leaves you and takes half your brewing stuff, and you have to start over again.

Might be safer to stick with stamps or coins.

reddit user heavysteve, on the cost (real and imagined) of homebrewing

As I finished reading that comment, and laughing appropriately, I realized something. Up to this point, my beer preferences have been influenced almost 100% by others. For years when given the choice I’d choose “real booze” over beer, or perhaps wine, or even water. Not because I expressly disliked beer, but because buying various styles seemed an expensive way to discover my tastes, when I knew that I could avoid throwing away money on something I wouldn’t enjoy drinking, just by buying wine or whiskey.

Unfortunately that’s no longer an option. If we’re going to brew beer, I’m going to have to find a whole selection of beers that I enjoy, if only to give Emma some variety. Now here in the not quite as ridiculous as Utah state of Pennsylvania, our beer sales (among other things) are regulated by the PLCB an archaic institution existing solely to frustrate and annoy the citizens of the state in which it has its totalitarian grip.

If you don’t want to pay PA’s roughly 15%-30% higher than everyone else in driving distance 6pack prices – you can buy a case. The end, thank you for playing. Needless to say, when I discovered Wegman’s has a craft-your-own 6pack I gassed up the car almost immediately. (the nearest Wegmans is just shy of 30 miles away, back towards civilization)

For the six of you that haven’t put two and two together yet, I’m broadening/discovering my beer palate one custom craft beer 6pack at a time. Yesterday, Emma and I selected 6 brews specifically to determine our mutual palate, by being as distinctly different in style …

Written by Peter

March 17, 2012 at 1614

Posted in Homebrewing

Tagged with , ,