I know what you’re thinking: you love beer, but how do you brew the stuff at home so that it doesn’t taste terrible? Well, it turns out that help is at hand in the form of Brewer’s Friend, a software platform you can use to assist will all your brewing efforts.
The site is all about “helping you brew awesome beer!”
But is it really? Let’s find out together.
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Things to Consider Before Buying or Using Brewers Friend
DIY homebrewers love Brewer’s Friend for a straightforward reason: it provides all the tools needed to create beers that taste great. It’s ideal for experienced people wanting to whip up a delicious keg of their favorite IPA as well as those building their home brewing skills from scratch.
The site features a community section, a bunch of tools you can use to make your efforts more scientific, and tons of fresh beer recipes to try. It sets itself up as a one-stop-shop for brewing-related things, hoping to become an authoritative resource for hobbyists, but it is becoming more than that.
Brewer’s Friend is clearly targeting all levels of experience. From the outset, the site is easy to navigate and speaks in plain English. If there’s any jargon, the writers take pains to explain it. You never feel like you’re facing a steep learning curve.
Please note that this site is not for people who want to buy beer brewing equipment, though. It does not substitute for a professional beer brewing course operated by an instructor. It is better to think of it as a collection of helpful resources – a bit like a library – that beer enthusiasts can refer to periodically.
If you’ve got questions, you can read articles or ask other members on the forum to get answers. And those needing to calculate some aspect of their brews can use a calculator. There are no hurdles you need to jump over.
Brewer’s Friend doesn’t affiliate with any particular homebrewing products, so you won’t necessarily find support here. It’s more like a helpful community that flogs a bit of merch on the side. It’s not there to sell anything to you in particular, except for membership. And it makes a point of being brand-neutral, which is a nice touch.
Here are some of the reasons why you might want to use Brewer’s Friend in quickfire format:
- Learn the brewing process from scratch if you’re a beginner
- Design your own recipes using some of the site’s helpful tools
- See how various ingredients factor into the key stats of every beer
- Find out what you brewed and how you did it
- Track the quality of your brews
- Keep a log of your current beer-making inventory
- Calculate things like the ABV of your beers based on key measurements
What Is Brewer's Friend?
Brewer’s Friend wants to teach you to brew in total confidence, saying that it provides everyone – from beginner to advanced – with the skills that they need to improve their brewing skills.
What’s more, the site doesn’t ask anything of you upfront. You can sign up and become a member if you want to, but there’s no obligation to do so. If you want to read articles and enjoy the tools it provides, you can.
Brewer’s Friend has several related competitors, but nobody else is doing exactly what it does. For instance, other competitors offer homebrewing software, forums, and tutorials, but it doesn’t come with the range of calculators you get on Brewer’s Friend. Similarly, many other homebrewing sites are more like publication than self-help sites.
- Supportive, active community able to answer most homebrewing-related questions
- Helpful tools, calculators, charts, and label generators
- Vast selection of beer recipes for beginners and advanced homebrewers
- A huge selection of community-generated content
- No official product-specific support
- No online courses by trained experts
Features and Benefits
The range of features Brewer’s Friend offers is comprehensive. If you’re just starting, you can find all the information you need, even if it comes from multiple sources.
Learn About Homebrewing
I’m somebody who always wants to learn as much as possible about a new hobby or interest, reading as much as I can. So I was pleased to see that Brewer’s friend had an educational section where you get up to speed pretty quickly on all things homebrewing. Articles teach you how to make a brew from scratch, showing you all the equipment you need and the stages you must go through to get it right.
Perhaps the most impressive feature, though, is the FAQ tool. You just pick a topic you need help with, and then a bunch of common frequently-asked questions pops up. Almost always, somebody has already asked your question, giving you a quick answer—no need to hop on the forum and wait for replies.
Tap Into The Homebrewing Community
The community section is where you will spend the majority of your time. Brewer’s Friend breaks the forum down into a series of helpful sections.
There is a beginner’s area where helpful people answer common questions from rookies, a general brewing section where you can have more advanced conversations, and an introductions section to tell everyone who you are. There are also helpful forums where you can share your brewing photos and videos, allowing you to show off the fruits of your labor or educate others. It can be a lot of fun.
Interestingly, Brewer’s Friend also has a “feature request” forum where people can ask developers to add new tools or provide new services. It’s part of the brand’s philosophy to be as helpful to people as it can be. But it’s smart too because it leverages the whole community to come up with new ideas to make the site better.
Search For All Your Favorite Recipes
The search feature helps practically every homebrewer type: both those new to the hobby and people with more advanced skills.
The brews you’ll find here are almost exclusively community-generated, uploaded by regular uses. You can search beers by all the usual metrics, including original gravity (OG), alcohol by volume (ABV), international bitterness units (IBU), color, and size, allowing you to narrow down your search.
It seems quite technical when you first see it, but Brewer’s Friend designed the feature with ease of use in mind. All recipes follow a standard template, making your job earlier.
Use A Variety Of Tools To Keep Track Of Your Brew
Perhaps the site’s standout feature is the sheer range of tools it provides to help budding brewers get the most out of their home kits. For instance, on the calculators page, you’ll find tools that allow you to build recipes, measure alcohol by volume, calculate the actual specific gravity of your beverage, calculate your IBU, measure your dilution and boil off, convert Brix to specific gravity, and many more.
The actual list of tools is enormous and covers practically every topic to do with homebrewing. There are bottling, priming, and kegging calculators, calculators for all-grain brewers, and even tools for making wine if you decide to branch out.
Brewer’s Friend also offers brew day sheets and checklists that help you keep track of your brews by hand. It’s not quite as sophisticated as some of the apps that we’ve seen in recent years. But many people prefer to do things the old-fashioned way, keeping track of progress using pen and paper. You simply go to the site, download the sheets, print them out, and fill them in.
Brewer’s friend has been quite innovative here. For instance, you get all the usual printable resources you’d expect, like all-grain recipe templates and templates for partial mash brewers. But you also get fun stuff, like beer tasting sheets for parties. Additions like this make it obvious that Brewer’s Friend actually listens to its audience.
What Does It Cost?
If you are interested in checking out the Brewer’s Friend platform, you have three memberships to choose from.
The Trial Membership is free, but like most free memberships, it will be limited on what you can do. The trial membership will give you a chance to read the forum, check out different beer recipes, as well as creating your own, but you are limited to a five recipe limit.
Next up is the Premium Membership which costs $2.49 a month, or $24.99 for a whole year.
It gives you everything from the trial membership plus a few more perks. The big advantage is the unlimited recipes, tilt and iSpendel integration for those using the wireless hydrometers, and no advertising.
And the last option is the Premium Plus Membership which will set you back $9.95 a month, or $99.95 for a year.
This membership comes with all the bells and whistles and is the Mac-Daddy of the three options. In my opinion, this more costly premium level is probably suited for the more serious and advanced homebrewer.
What Others Are Saying About Brewer's Friend
I scoured the internet and found some user reviews that seemed somewhat positive. Here are what a few of the site’s users had to say about their experience of the site.
“I am so happy for this cloud based computing/tracking site. I have been using the recipe builder and calculators since I started brewing earlier this year. I do think that these resources have guided me on my path to creating better brews; adjusting for every aspect of my brews. I can’t thank you all enough. I only bought a year because funds are tight, but is was positively worth what you are doing and providing me with. I’m only on my fifth batch, but I feel I’m pulling ahead of everyone else in my circle because of tools you provide.”
“Keep up the great work. I had been using [competitor name removed] and thought they worked pretty good, but your program blows them out of the water.
“I love your site and just paid up for premium! Your site helps me make better beer. Thank you!”
The list of satisfied users goes on and on. Paying for the premium version seems to be worth it.
Brewer's Friend Recipe Builder
To get a better idea of how Brewer’s Friend works, and the custom recipe builder in action, have a look at the video below.
Brewer’s Friend is one of the most compelling community-driven resources for homebrewers out there. The community is highly active, which is good, and there is perhaps the most comprehensive selection of brewing calculators anywhere on the internet. In short, if this site doesn’t have the calculator you want, it probably doesn’t exist.
Brewer’s Friend is also helping people who are new to brewing. You don’t feel as though it leaves you out in the cold. Once you get to grips with how to use the site’s resources, it all quickly falls into place, and using the site feels like second nature.
Is it the best resource on the internet for homebrewers? That’s hard to say. What I can say is that it is just about as comprehensive as any free information site could be. Some might not like the community-driven aspect, but that adds to its character.
My recommendation is to sign-up with the free trial version and give it a test drive. If you find that it helps you on brew day, go ahead and give the Premium membership a try for around twenty-five bucks a year.
If you want to find out more about the site, click here to check it out.