One of the things that I have learned during my brewing adventures is that there is nothing worse than coming out with a great tasting beer and not being able to make it again. So I developed a Brewer’s Log Sheet that is designed to keep track of all of the information you need to make a good replica of previous batch. This sheet is based from a book of recipe sheets that I used early in my brewing days, but updated and enhanced for the sorts of brewing conditions I am used to encountering in the wild. Due to differences in fermentation conditions like temperature and the nature of small scale brewing, it’s tough to get two batches of the same recipe exactly the same like you would expect from a professional brewery, but these can help you get that much closer. So let’s get down to the particulars.
First and most important we have ingredients. This allows a place for you to log everything that goes into your beer, including grains, hops, yeast, adjuncts, flavorings, salts and anything else you need. This is very convenient because you can see everything you need in one spot, create a shopping list, and be ready to go to the brewstore. It is also very convenient for modifying recipes by adding and removing ingredients, converting extract recipes to all-grain, and finding good information about them. Plenty of space for comments also allows you to track ancillary information about the ingredients.
Next up is the mashing procedure. Keeping track of mash temperatures and times enables consistent extraction of sugars including controlling fermentability. Temperatures and quantities make it easy to reproduce process and manage your mash, while the times make it easier to keep track of the current mash.
The kettle operation section is used to record information about the boiling procedure. This information is extremely important for process control when attempting to reproduce recipes. Timing information is useful in planning and tracking when additions are required and the boil can be ended, and after the boil completes, the time boiled column is very useful for planning future batches. Recording the quantity and type of ingredients makes it easy to get ingredients and quantities matched up between batches, and leaves a convenient place to track the final boil volume.
Next it is good to record information about pitching and the fermentation process. This space includes the place to record initial gravity and temperature, yeast type and pitching time. During fermentation, any time you test or move the beer, the gravity can be recorded to monitor fermentation activity and track dry hop and other post-fermentation flavoring additions.
Finally, bottling. I created these logs before I acquired a keg system, and these sheets reflect that. All of the basic information, including gravity, date, and temperature is the same in both cases, so I have never gotten around to updating it. In the rare case that I bottle condition, it is nice to have a place to keep track of how much sugar is added, so it is probably best to leave it.
The Brewer’s Log Sheet is designed to cover the front and back of a regular sheet of paper. I print a bunch of them out, then 3 hole punch them and keep them in a binder. The Nutty Brewer’s Log stays with me whenever I am brewing or working on any other brew tasks. Hopefully it works for you, too.