Software Review: Brew Pal (for iOS)

In my constant search for an all-in-one brew calculating program that can work across Linux, Windows, & a smart phone, I’m constantly disappointed.  So, I’ve decided to search out for the best of each platform that can utilize the standard BeerXML format and import / export easily.

With that said, there are ten’s of different programs out there, but my requirements are simple.
1) Import / Export BeerXML
2) Fairly cheap / reasonably priced

So my first foray into an app for my smartphone (iPhone) was with Beer Pal.  Priced at $1.99 it met the second goal, and it stated on the website that it would fulfill goal #1.

On with the review.

The first thing you see is the ‘splash screen’ of course, and, here it is.

This is Brew Pals main screen and from here you generally can reach out to all the other screens you need.

Brew Pal main screen

The first thing I wanted to do was to import one of my BeerXML recipes that I already had.  This would save typing on the iPhone, and just makes more sense generally.
The important part of this is to have your BeerXML recipe available somewhere on the web or in iTunes.  I did not use iTunes, as intuitively seems more cumbersome.
I did have this website, so I went to a recipe on this site on the phone, copied the web address for the file, and pasted into the box that opens up when you press “From URL”.
It worked like a champ and immediately I had the recipe.


Grain bill

Hop bill

Next, I wanted to view my grain bill & hop bill.  An example would be at the home brew shop as you are picking up supplies.


Something I REALLY need and is included in Brew Pal is a hop substitution ‘chart’.  How many times have I been at the home brew shop and they didn’t have the specific hop I needed.  I will confer with a chart they have posted from 1985 it seems, which has few of the hops that they actually carry.  This helps to solve that.

Another nice feature is a comparison of your recipe to the style guidelines from BJCP 2008, as well as the full entry for each style.I already have an app for the BJCP 2008 descriptions and likely will keep it even though it is on Brew Pal as well, just because if I want to browse the different styles, it seems easier on the stand alone app.  This is still nice to have in Brew Pal though.


BJCP Style Descriptions


Recipe export screen
Well, once you have worked on a recipe, taken notes, etc you may want to export so you can access on another platform.
I know that other commercial programs out there give you this, but they charge an extra fee to ‘store’ your recipes in the cloud.
With Brew Pal, you are able to email a BeerXML file, a printable html file, or both, to yourself, or anyone you wish.  Nice!
One improvement would be the ability to export the files to dropbox.

Some nice touches to Brew Pal are a color chart and a flavor wheel.  I kind of dig the flavor wheel as I just suck coming up with descriptors as I am reviewing beers I am sampling.


Flavor wheel

Overall, I think this is a great use of $1.99 and is highly recommended by me.  I like the portability of having my recipes with me, either for reference when getting all geeky with other home brewers, or at the home brew shop buying my latest supplies.Another feature included is the ability to use timers when you are in the brew day.  It will use your recipe and time your mash & boil for you.  This I used on my last brew day and love it.
If you are a home brewer with an iPhone and were contemplating something as robust as iBrewMaster, give this a look first.  It is simpler to use, and does 100% of what I need, likely for you as well.

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