Author Topic: Take Some Tips from BeerAlchemy for Mac  (Read 151 times)

Offline hafmpty

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Take Some Tips from BeerAlchemy for Mac
« on: May 17, 2018, 09:10:35 AM »
Let me start by saying I hope this doesn't come off like BeerSmith sucks. That's not what I'm trying to say. I really want to use BeerSmith. All the calculators, the regular updates for functionality and ingredient lists, etc. all make me want to switch. But the stuff I'll mention below (really just points 1-3) is keeping me from doing that currently.

So I currently use BeerAlchemy for Mac. I like the program, it's just not updated quite as often as I would like and there are other weaknesses as well. That said, I recently tried to switch over to BeerSmith but just found it difficult. I went through the whole process of making profiles, adding recipes, adding ingredients, etc. and feel like I thoroughly understand the program. I watched all the videos and a number of other videos from various YouTubers. After all that though I ended up switching back to BeerAlchemy. The gains from BeerSmith to me were not worth the losses from BeerAlchemy.

So here are a few reasons why I ended up switching back and maybe some ideas that could help the next version of BeerSmith.

1. Batches vs. Recipes - BeerAlchemy creates batches from a single main recipe. Your batches can be scaled, adjusted, ingredients swapped out, etc. all without changing anything about your primary recipe. You can of course change your primary recipe and all batches created after the changes will be affected (not previous bathches though). I love this feature because it allows me to have ONE original recipe and see all the different iterations of that recipe right under in a type of drop-down menu under the recipe (see the attached picture). This keeps everything nicely organized.

2. Folders - Like BeerSmith, BeerAlchemy also uses folders. But BeerAlchemy has a single folder called "All Recipes" where every recipe is kept. And like BeerSmith I can put those recipes into different subfolders. But what is different is that if I make changes to a recipe in one subfolder, it makes changes to all the other copies of that recipe that I might have in other subfolders. For example, if I have a Pilsner recipe called "BohPils w/ Mandrina" that recipe is in my "All Recipes" folder. And if I have copies in a "Lagers" folder but also a "2018 Beers To Brew" folder, any change I make to the original recipe (whether I'm editing the recipe in the Lagers folder, 2018 Beers to Brew folder, or All Recipes folder) is reflected in all the different copies of that recipe. By keeping a single copy of the recipe and having it sync across all the different copies in the other folders, I don't have to worry about which recipe I edited/changed/etc. But...if I make a copy of the recipe, the changes to the original recipe won't affect the copy. Also, one nice thing about the subfolders is that I'm not actually making a "copy" of the original recipe. So I can have the same recipe in multiple folders. As you can see in the attached picture, on the left I've got all my subfolders. If I delete a recipe from a subfolder I don't delete it from the "All Recipes" folder. And if I copy a recipe into an additional subfolder I don't have 2 or 3 or 5 copies of the same recipe. Rather it's just an additional "pointer" to the original recipe that is in the All Recipes folder.

3. Ingredients - BeerSmith allows you to keep stock of your inventory. BeerAlchemy does too. But what BeerAlchemy allows you to do is have different versions of the same item without having to make (again) multiple copies of the same item. So if I buy 2oz of Cascade at 5.2% AAU and then also buy another ounce at 5.9% AAU I can have both in my inventory under a single ingredient listed in my inventory (Cascade). Then when I go to brew, BeerAlchemy tells me how much to use of each & automatically adjusts based on what ingredients I have in stock & the type it is (i.e. leaf vs. pellet). Beyond that it makes its selection based on the age of the ingredient, using up the oldest first. BeerAlchemy doesn't have a hop degradation feature, but it does allow you the option of setting an expiration date (this is true of every ingredient...hops, grains, adjuncts, etc.).

4. Suggest A Beer - BeerAlchemy has a unique feature that based on the recipes you have & the ingredients you have in your inventory, it will tell you what beers you can brew. It will tell you which recipes you have all the ingredients for, recipes you have all but one ingredient for, all but two ingredients for, and which you have all but three ingredients for. It's really cool to be able to on a whim check and see if you've got the stuff needed to brew something...anything.

5. Look - As you can see from the attached picture, BeerAlchemy just looks better. :) A very minor issue of course. Some people don't care about that, but others do. An upgrade to the style of BeerSmith might be good.

Offline Kevin58

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Re: Take Some Tips from BeerAlchemy for Mac
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2018, 10:01:01 AM »
So glad you found a program you like. Good luck.
If you?re stressing over homebrewing, you?re doing something wrong.
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Offline Oginme

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Re: Take Some Tips from BeerAlchemy for Mac
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2018, 11:22:50 AM »
I have never tried Beer Alchemy, as I don't own a MAC.  Most of the attributes listed above seem to me to be more of a personal choice in how you want the program to operate.  There may be some learning to be gleaned from this though.

So I have a few questions which I will list by reference to your numbered sections.

1.  So, if I change my equipment profile or system set up in the master recipe, what happens to all the previous batches which are archived?  Do they still reflect the original profile or will they adjust to the new one?  I brew across many different systems: 3 l BIAB, 10 l BIAB, 16 l both BIAB and mash tun, 20 l mash tun and it would seem to me that if I scaled the recipe to the particular system I plan to use for that session, I don't want to have that change reflected in the past archive batches.

2.  Is there an option not to update the copies of that recipe in other folders?  If I have copies of recipes in different folders, they are separated for a reason.  I've scaled some of my recipes for other brewers and sent them the file and/or brew sheet.  I do not want this change to be reflected in other copies of that recipe.  I also use the 'brew log' folder to plan brews for the upcoming season and will tweak recipes in that folder for the upcoming brew.  I only want that particular copy changed, as I don't know if the change will be one that accomplished my goal for that change.  You sort of covered that a bit with your comment about making a copy of the main recipe, but then that flies against your statement of making a change in one recipe updating all other copies of that recipe in different folders. 

3.  Inventory in BeerSmith is a very weak point.  I'll leave it at that.

4.  As I mentioned above, I plan out my brews.  I can see this being of value to someone who is less OCD than I am.  At the same time, I always keep a good inventory of my most used malts and hops along with at least 2 to 4 strains of yeast being propagated, that I can change my brewing plans at the last minute and still make most of everything in my 160+ recipes (actually, I lost count waay back) in BeerSmith.

5.  If you are interested in looks, I am glad you found BeerAlchemy.  The UI is a constant complaint from those who are looking for a well polished program.  While rounded buttons and flashy colors are great, they really don't impact the usability of a program.  This may have been one of the main reasons I stopped programming computers in the mid 80's.

All-on-all, I wish I could get Beer Alchemy for my PC to throw it around the streets for a bit and see what features are really good and where the potholes are. 
Recycle your grains, feed them to a goat!

Offline hafmpty

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Re: Take Some Tips from BeerAlchemy for Mac
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2018, 12:13:21 PM »
I'll answer your questions based on your/my numbers. :)

1.  So, if I change my equipment profile or system set up in the master recipe, what happens to all the previous batches which are archived?

--They reflect the original profile you brewed them with. If for some reason you delete or edit that original equipment profile, the previous batches using that profile simply say "Specific to this recipe" for the equipment profile.

1. Continued...I brew across many different systems: 3 l BIAB, 10 l BIAB, 16 l both BIAB and mash tun, 20 l mash tun and it would seem to me that if I scaled the recipe to the particular system I plan to use for that session, I don't want to have that change reflected in the past archive batches.

--It wouldn't be. You have a master recipe and the batch. In both you can mess around and change it however you want with profiles, hopping rates, gravities, water volumes, efficiencies, etc. None of that is ever changed anywhere except the batch or recipe you are currently working on. Any changes to the original recipe are reflected in any batches you create after that based on that recipe though.

2.  Is there an option not to update the copies of that recipe in other folders?  If I have copies of recipes in different folders, they are separated for a reason. 

--Yes...this would function like BeerSmith. You would actually make a copy of the recipe. When you do this BeerAlchemy adds -copy to the end of the recipe name. Then you can go in a change it to whatever you would like to call it. So let's say you have a recipe for a Vienna Lager that you want to share. Before editing it to get it ready to share with a friend, you simply create a copy of the recipe and make whatever changes you want to the recipe and then export it as BeerXML and it's good to go.

2. Continued...I do not want this change to be reflected in other copies of that recipe.  I also use the 'brew log' folder to plan brews for the upcoming season and will tweak recipes in that folder for the upcoming brew. I only want that particular copy changed, as I don't know if the change will be one that accomplished my goal for that change.

--This is what the "Batches" are for. You mess with the batches while keeping your original recipe the same. If you brew a batch and you nailed it and want that to be the "Recipe" going forward...there is an option to "Promote Batch" which means it's no longer a "Batch" it's a new master recipe. Super simple with a shortcut even. :)

4.  As I mentioned above, I plan out my brews.  I can see this being of value to someone who is less OCD than I am.  At the same time, I always keep a good inventory of my most used malts and hops along with at least 2 to 4 strains of yeast being propagated, that I can change my brewing plans at the last minute and still make most of everything in my 160+ recipes (actually, I lost count waay back) in BeerSmith.

--I plan my brewing calendar a year ahead too. :) I've never actually used this feature which is why I said that points 1-3 are the main reasons. I know some people like this feature though so I mentioned it.

5.  If you are interested in looks, I am glad you found BeerAlchemy.  The UI is a constant complaint from those who are looking for a well polished program.  While rounded buttons and flashy colors are great, they really don't impact the usability of a program.  This may have been one of the main reasons I stopped programming computers in the mid 80's.

--Yep. Mac programs are used by Mac users. :) And I know how this bunch can be. It's not a big deal to me. Just something that is pretty blatant.

All-on-all, I wish I could get Beer Alchemy for my PC to throw it around the streets for a bit and see what features are really good and where the potholes are. 

--If you have an iPhone or iPad it's available for both.

Cheers!

Offline Oginme

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Re: Take Some Tips from BeerAlchemy for Mac
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2018, 01:59:28 PM »
No iphone or ipod or ipad.  I stopped using Apple products when they dumped the Apple II line for the Macs.  While the Macs were a nice computer, back then they were limited in ability to change the hardware configuration.  For someone like me who was using modems for data transfer back in 1978 and installed a board into a TRS-80 model I to enable data transfer and process control routines, it was a big middle finger.  I went PC and never looked back.  Changed direction shortly after and got my degree in ChE instead of computers. 
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