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How do you track your brews?

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muppix

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Mornin’ all!

This is a general question relating to procedure and as such could probably sit in any number of forums, but rather than cross-post and repeat myself I’ve decided to post it in General Beer Brewing Discussion since it seems to get the highest footfall. My apologies in advance to the moderator(s) if this is in error - please do relocate this post as you see fit.

Anyway, that said I’m interested in how you record progress on whatever it is that you’ve brewed, pressed, or grown in the fridge. Back of a beer mat? Traditional notebook, complete with interesting stains and odours? Perhaps you’re a spreadsheet warrior, king of Excel, and keep all your dates and gravity readings in plottable format?

I’ve not been brewing long at all, but with a background in engineering and consultancy I wanted to have something that I could search, scale, and back up easily. I started out with Evernote since I’m quite a heavy user of that particular app, but although it was easy to use, limitations soon became apparent. I then transferred the contents of my virtual brewing notebook into a blank Wordpress site, with each brew being represented by a category and each log entry a new post. Better, but not perfect. Right now I’m in the process of writing a Wordpress plugin including custom post types and fields specifically aimed at brewing, maybe a theme as well, who knows. The ultimate aim is to have a stand-alone plugin that can be added to any Wordpress blog, giving the blogger a way of recording their efforts to see what worked and what didn’t, with a few handy widgets like automatically calculating ABV or plotting SG - though I’m not looking to reinvent the wheel with anything complicated around recipes, etc.

Back to my question: what do you use? What works well for you? Anything you’d like to change? Being a novice brewer I’m open to all ideas and suggestions, some of which I’d like to bake into my solution so that I can appreciate them as I gain more experience.

Due disclosure: I will not sell or otherwise profit from what I’m making, nor from your suggestions. This is purely for personal use, to help me in my own brewing efforts, and if it keeps my flagging PHP skills alive then so much the better. I’ll make any plugins / themes produced available to anyone who asks me, but I can’t guarantee that I’ll have the bandwidth to offer support, which is why they won’t appear in public repositories. Hope that’s fair.

Many thanks in advance - have a smashing Thursday!
 

chopps

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I have gone entirely digital now and use the Brewfather app.
There's a notes section for each recipe you create and I append brew day text notes there.
When planning I use my laptop and on brewday my phone or an ipad. Any device works.
You can update actual readings for everything throughout the brew and fermentation and they are stored forever.
Data is stored in the cloud, so no local copy is required unless you're really paranoid. You can print everything off as necessary.
You can see plots of gravity and temperature, and it's integrated with devices like tilt and ispindel.
Includes a full set of tools and conversions, and also tracks inventory and you can import recipes in beer.xml

Take a look - maybe some things you can do better.
 

Cwrw666

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Notebook. Just the recipe, when it was made, OG FG ABV and how it turned out.
As for tracking the progress of each individual brew. I just rely on my brain. Still has enough Mb in it's hard drive for now.
 

muppix

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Hey @chopps - thanks for the quick reply! Being able to use multiple devices and have data in the cloud is certainly useful, as is the ability to interface with other platforms. I'll definitely check it out and see what I can learn.
 

muppix

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Hehe, cheers @Cwrw666 - not sure my brain was made to the same capacity as yours, but respect! I do like the tactility of analogue methods (plus I'm a stationery freak) but the ability to attach photos / family videos to a brew day log has sadly drawn me away from my little pile of tattered Moleskines.
 

Zephyr259

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Everything gets stored in the Grainfather online system as that's what I use to build my recipes. But I also keep a handwritten log in a hardback A4 notebook and there's also the "rough" brewday notes in my general purpose notebook, that one also gets the nitty gritty of gravity checks for FG.
 

Drunkula

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Design in beersmith. On the brewday absolutely have my physical book to note things down as I go along because you won't remember all the readings. Then add any changes back to Beersmith like where I'll have petrol-pumped out 4.038g of malt instead of 4, same with hops.

For tastings I have a document for each year but I don't enter directly into that first. I have a 'rough notes' document where I add the date and the beers I had that night.

As well as this I have an excel sheet where I enter the date the beers were bottled that displays how long they've been bottled Days After Bottling. I put the DAB number in the tastings so eventually you get.

bx55 Geordie Lager

13 DAB - it tastes like nothingy crap.
35 DAB - it still tastes like crap, maybe a little less so.
123 DAB - Ha ha! Just remembered it's a lager kit, of course it's still crap!

In the notes of BeerSmith I have this saved as a template and fill it in as I go:

DATE : -- PITCHED : -- BOTTLED : --
OG : FG :
FERMENTER : FERM TEMP : Crush : Mash Temp : Mashed In :
WATER : SO4 : Cl : Ca :
 

obscure

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I have a spreadsheet to track brew date, bottling date and bottle cap/coloured label on keg so I can quickly identify them. I also have brewers friend which I use for the recipes.
 

chrisbardell

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I've been using Trello ( Trello ) for nearly 8 years, to track everything at various jobs and for personal stuff. I genuinely found it an almost life-changing way of getting myself organised and recording information for future reference. By far the best piece of software/web service I've ever used, with so many ways of using it thanks to its flexibility. Free or paid versions - I pay.

Made total sense for me to use it when I started brewing stuff earlier this year. Screenshot of my homebrew Trello board attached.trello-homebrew-board01.png

NB: no connection with them, although once tried to get a job with them because I like the product so much. Didn't get the job :-(
 

HarryFlatters

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Brewing, it seems, works out at roughly 85% cleaning things, 10% brewing things and 5% writing things down.

I'm exceptionally bad at the writing things down bit. I need to get better at it.
 

Northern_Brewer

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I have physical pieces of dead tree to use on brewday, which are a mix of printed ones from brewing software and blank sheets where I just write things down as I go along for the more...free range...brews.

Means there's a bit of room for tasting notes, and I can add extra sheets if needed, it all ends up in a lever arch file along with things like invoices so it's all in one place. For some reason I just find it easier to write odd tasting notes on a piece of paper - and no technology worries!
 

muppix

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Everything gets stored in the Grainfather online system as that's what I use to build my recipes. But I also keep a handwritten log in a hardback A4 notebook and there's also the "rough" brewday notes in my general purpose notebook, that one also gets the nitty gritty of gravity checks for FG.
Cheers Zephyr259, for sheer availability (and resilience to spillages) you can't beat the old pen & paper I guess. Grainfather is actually one system I'm considering when I move to AG in future, so it's good to know they have a place in the feedback loop too. Will check it out. 👍🏻
 

muppix

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As well as this I have an excel sheet where I enter the date the beers were bottled that displays how long they've been bottled Days After Bottling. I put the DAB number in the tastings so eventually you get.
Cheers Lord Drunkula - knew somebody would have a spreadsheet! Being able to calculate key dates is certainly a big bonus of using electronic systems, and I hadn't considered the possibility of counting number of days since bottling, though now that you mention it I can see it's a no-brainer. Will add that to my spec. (currently I've got days-since-fermentation-start and projected-finish, but the bottling idea is a good one) Ta!
 

muppix

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I have a spreadsheet to track brew date, bottling date and bottle cap/coloured label on keg so I can quickly identify them. I also have brewers friend which I use for the recipes.
Thanks Obscure - cap colour was one of the things I recently added to my spec, can't believe I didn't think of that on day one. I only wish that I could get small enough labels for my label printer to fix to the caps, since they're a highly visible yet easily disposable part of the process, and ideal for a small QR code which would then link back to the brew log.
 

muppix

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I'm exceptionally bad at the writing things down bit. I need to get better at it.
Yeah, tell me about it! It's unfortunate that the writing-things-down part usually follows the other two, when you're knackered and want nothing more than to put your feet up after all that effort. I can see why it's easier at that point to scribble something in a notebook rather than break out a keyboard ...
 

muppix

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I have physical pieces of dead tree to use on brewday, which are a mix of printed ones from brewing software and blank sheets where I just write things down ... For some reason I just find it easier to write odd tasting notes on a piece of paper - and no technology worries!
There is a certain sense of permanence about the analogue method, I grant you. For me, the only worry associated with technology is that a lot of tools and platforms either require a subscription and / or tie you to a certain piece of equipment, and as I get older I place more and more value on being able to 'own' my data - hence aiming for a Wordpress plugin. Let's see if that comes to fruition ...
 

muppix

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I've been using Trello ( Trello ) for nearly 8 years, to track everything at various jobs and for personal stuff. I genuinely found it an almost life-changing way of getting myself organised and recording information for future reference. By far the best piece of software/web service I've ever used, with so many ways of using it thanks to its flexibility. Free or paid versions - I pay.
Thanks for bringing Trello to my attention, @chrisbardell - that looks absolutely awesome! I have many areas in my life which would benefit from a dedicated board, though I don't think I can justify the outlay for brewing alone. Maybe I can convince the boss to 'trial' for a year or two ... hmmm. 🤔

Right now I've been using Evernote right since the start, and that also comes in at around £45 per year for the premium version. But I've finally had enough of the lack of feature parity across devices, and the unnecessary annual UI refreshes that introduce more bugs than the company fixes before next year's splash of colour and new icons. I think that with a bit of ingenuity I can switch over to Apple Notes, since that's integrated with all my devices, has great cross-platform parity, and actually imports from Evernote pretty well - even embedded files and videos.

And there you go showing me Trello. Great. 😜
 

Northern_Brewer

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Thanks Obscure - cap colour was one of the things I recently added to my spec, can't believe I didn't think of that on day one. I only wish that I could get small enough labels for my label printer to fix to the caps, since they're a highly visible yet easily disposable part of the process, and ideal for a small QR code which would then link back to the brew log.
I've toyed with different caps but instead just got a big bag of pale coloured ones (yellow), on which permanent marker shows up nicely, then I just mark them with a gyle number (and sometimes a sub-gyle code when I've done a split batch with different yeast etc). I usually only have 2-3 gyles on the go at any one time, so it's fairly easy to keep track.
 

muppix

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I've toyed with different caps but instead just got a big bag of pale coloured ones (yellow), on which permanent marker shows up nicely, then I just mark them with a gyle number (and sometimes a sub-gyle code when I've done a split batch with different yeast etc). I usually only have 2-3 gyles on the go at any one time, so it's fairly easy to keep track.
Showing my ignorance here, but what's a gyle / sub-gyle code?

My idea for QR codes started out as a handy link between the bottle and the online record over at my blog, and I still use it on printed labels where I can get creative and have a bit of fun - see my first perry below. I'll probably tire of this eventually (peeling off the labels when I re-use the bottles is the biggest pain) so it would be nice to have those on the caps somehow.

And yeah, yellow is definitely the best colour. ;)

IMG_3718.jpeg
 

Buffers brewery

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Sorry, I’m a bit of a dinosau I’m afraid. I use an Excel spreadsheet form to record my brewday data. I print off a blank form and fill in the numbers through the day (and after) and then input it on the computer.
 
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