My record keeping is an important tool to me. It makes the difference between repeating the same mistakes in my brewing formulation/regimen and crafting beers that I really enjoy and can consistently repeat. I design my recipes based partly on the thorough notes and formulations that I keep and update in my journal. Some elements of my brewing process that I find valuable to keep track of are:
- water to grain ratio in the mash
- strike temperature and resulting mash temp
- mash efficiency
- time tables
- pre-boil gravity
- post-boil (O.G.)original gravity
- general process notes
- and more....
I have posted a random image of a page from my logs to show a typical recipe and brewing session.
As you can see from the image, I use both sides of the open journal. On the right are recipe formulation and specifics dealing with the brewing process. I use the left side for more generalized notes including problems and successes from the beginning of the brew day until the beer is tapped and tasted. I find it very important to document the beer tastes when all is done in order to best make choices about modifying the recipe in the future. Having said this, sometimes I'm not as thorough in my note taking as I would like to be, simply because, at times, I can be quite lazy.This example can be used as is or modified to suit your needs and or level of detail that you want. I will usually write out as much of the details as I can prior to the brewing session taking place to pave the way to an enjoyable brewing experience. I can relax and enjoy myself with a beer, having the grains already weight and milled and hops weight and bagged and detailed notes to easily guide me through the day. I simply fill in the blanks on the page as I go along. I don't have no much desire to use the computer programs like ProMash to keep track of my brewing sessions, but know that many brewers like and utilize them towards great success. I prefer the hands-on approach using calculator and pen and paper. I make note of the fermentation temps as the days go by and note the dates that the beer is racked to secondary or keg along with the elements of tastes, aromas, visuals from samples held back during transfers. I have been keeping track of my progress in brewing with journals since about the third batch of beer I ever made and when I consider the importance of record keeping I wish that I had included the first two.