After trying all the different types of free brewing software I could find (There may be others.), I've reached a few conclusions.
* Provided you download from trusted source, free software is a viable option. The two most important words in that statement, "trusted source". If it isn't someone who checks for hidden viruses or malware, you're simply begging for trouble. So, start with C-Net's Download.com, the Android Appmarket, or some other software site that you KNOW checks.
* It won't do everything. You probably already know that. I don't expect free software to tell me everything, or help me control everything, about my brewing process. For free, I want some help developing my recipe, and some inspiration. If you want more, well, you have to pay more.
* There is not a "best". All brewers are different, with different sets of priorities. A piece of software that has everything one person wants may not do anything for someone else. Do what I did. Download them, input a favorite recipe that you know works, and see how it reacts. Of the programs I tried, there are ones I liked more than others. But, that only makes them "better" for me. Or, as the old acronym says, YMMD.
Here are the links to all the products I tried. You may find something that works for you.
For the Android app, BrewR, Either use this link, or the Appmarket icon on you phone or tablet. By the way, since I wrote the original article, I got a new Android phone, and installed BrewR.
Brewtarget can be run on Windows, Mac, or Linux. You can find run-ready versions of the software. Or, you can compile and install it yourself, which takes a bit more work. But, you know it is tuned for your machine.
As part of the Brewmasters Warehouse website, obviously, they want you to buy something. Now, I'm not a marketing guru of any kind. But, I consider this a stroke of genius, and, I don't know why everyone doesn't include this.
Brewmate worked for me as well as one of my old favorites. I was surprised. As I said before, I consider the huge splash screen incredibly ugly. Don't look.
The Home Brew Digest has been around since the late 80's, longer than some of you. You should go here, if just to get a sense of history.
I've used this one for nearly 20 years, so it obviously works well for me. As I said, we're all different, so while it may not do all you want, I feel it's worth a shot.
And, that's it. I'm certain there may be other free packages out there. For instance, I know there are several spreadsheets to do your calculations. The are tools for each stage. And, I'm sure there are programs I didn't find. The resources are out there, use them.