Author Topic: Good notes?  (Read 1207 times)

Offline JJeffers09

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1121
    • View Profile
Good notes?
« on: September 19, 2016, 07:16:49 PM »
So what makes for good notes?  I always hear and read take good notes but don't know what would/should be included... so to the more experienced do you take notes? What do you always to make sure to include in your notes?
"Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" - Benjamin Franklin

AHA Member
Indiana Brewers Union (IBU)

Offline dmtaylor

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 3224
  • Two Rivers, WI
    • View Profile
Re: Good notes?
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2016, 07:27:16 PM »
I'm not sure exactly which kind of notes you're talking about -- probably mashing/brewing notes?  It can be very beneficial to take down all your temperatures and times, mash pH, things like that.  Good beer can be made without these notes as well, it just involves a little more luck and can be harder to learn from mistakes.  I've found it useful whenever making a mistake or seeing an unexpected result to document it right away and keep an eye on it just in case it makes a difference in taste later on.

If you're talking about tasting notes, well I do a lot of that as well.  Aroma, appearance, flavor, mouthfeel, and overall impressions are all the major sections on a BJCP judging form.  However not all of these things are necessarily a big deal.  The timing since bottling or manufacture, storage conditions, etc. can also make some difference as well.

In the end, do whatever you think is useful and what makes you happy.  If you're happy brewing and drinking without taking a whole bunch of notes, then don't bother.  For nerds like me, though, it has proven very useful to take detailed notes when appropriate.  I don't always take notes, but when I do, they're pretty darn detailed, just in case.  Sometimes I never read them again.  But often times, I do.
Dave

The world will become a much more pleasant place to live when each and every one of us realizes that we are all idiots.

Offline HoosierBrew

  • Global Moderator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 13030
  • Indianapolis,IN
    • View Profile
Re: Good notes?
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2016, 07:30:19 PM »
I'm sure everybody does it differently. I make a print out - I write out expected Preboil OG, Post boil OG, FG, Strike Temp, Preboil volume, Postboil Volume in the left column. Right column gets the actual measured values of these categories during the brew day, so I can identify any correctible issues. Under that I write the complete recipe, including grain/water ratio, pH, volumes. On the back I write tasting notes of the beer and any other thoughts, so I can reference it the next time I brew it. I brew a lot of styles so it really helps to be able to look back accurately at what happened on the prior batch the next time I make it. I'm OCD, hopefully in a good way. I channel it into brewing.  ;)
Jon H.

Offline denny

  • Administrator
  • Retired with too much time on my hands
  • *****
  • Posts: 19385
  • Noti OR [1991.4, 287.6deg] AR
    • View Profile
    • Dennybrew
Re: Good notes?
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2016, 07:35:58 PM »
I use Promash to create recipes.  Then I transcribe them into spiral notebooks so I can take note.  Besides grains amounts, I write down hop amounts, alpha% and timing, water treatments and predicted pH, mash amount and ratio, grain temp, strike temp, actual pH, conversion efficiency, mash runoff gravity and volume, sparge volume and temp, boil volume, boil gravity and pH, mash efficiency, boil length (may boil longer if needed), final volume, time of pitching, temp at pitching, pH at pitching, brewhouse efficiency.  Plus notes about any brewing anomalies.

I think there may be one or 2 other things.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

www.dennybrew.com

The best, sharpest, funniest, weirdest and most knowledgable minds in home brewing contribute on the AHA forum. - Alewyfe

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." - Bertrand Russell

Offline blatz

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 3423
  • Paul Blatz - Jupiter, FL
    • View Profile
Re: Good notes?
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2016, 07:41:40 PM »
I print off my beersmith brewing sheet (which once completed goes into a 3 ring binder) I jot notes on the measurements - pH, actual strike/mash temp, FG, etc.

I often go back and input in the 'notes' section of Beersmith if there was any really noteworthy tasting/flavor notes - good or bad - i.e. this hop combination doesn't work at 1:1 or in the case recently of my Citra/Equinox IIPA O.M.G.

The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.

BJCP National: F0281

Offline Joe Sr.

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4344
  • Chicago - NORTH SIDE
    • View Profile
Re: Good notes?
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2016, 07:48:33 PM »
I print off my beersmith brewing sheet (which once completed goes into a 3 ring binder) I jot notes on the measurements - pH, actual strike/mash temp, FG, etc.

I often go back and input in the 'notes' section of Beersmith if there was any really noteworthy tasting/flavor notes - good or bad - i.e. this hop combination doesn't work at 1:1 or in the case recently of my Citra/Equinox IIPA O.M.G.

I do pretty much this with the exception of adding notes back into Beersmith.  Maybe, if it's something super significant.  Mostly those just get written on the sheet.

I hole punch everything and keep a three ring binder, so I can leaf back through it and check my notes on earlier batches of the same recipe.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline dmtaylor

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 3224
  • Two Rivers, WI
    • View Profile
Re: Good notes?
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2016, 07:56:30 PM »
I should probably add that I type all my applicable notes into my favorite software (I use StrangeBrew) for easy access later.  I used to have a 3-ring binder but that thing was a pain to maintain, not to mention it got thick real quick.  Electronicize and you don't have to worry about losing anything and can access it very easily later on if you need it.
Dave

The world will become a much more pleasant place to live when each and every one of us realizes that we are all idiots.

Offline pete b

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 3123
  • Barre, Ma
    • View Profile
Re: Good notes?
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2016, 07:58:13 PM »
I'm decidedly not OCD. I print out a copy of my recipe if I use software or literally write the grain bill etc. on an envelope from the recycling bin. I put these in a drawer and never look at them again unless I forgot to label the yeast I harvested and need to figure out what it is a month or two later. When the drawer is full I throw them away. I used to take more and better notes in a spiral notebook but then realized that I never brewed the same beer exactly the same way again. The things I find important I manage to remember.
I'm not suggesting that this is a good idea, and I take good notes (volumes, weights, etc) when trying to dial in something new in my system or figure something out, but I'm just saying you can make good beer without feeling like you need to be a certain type of person who takes good notes.
Don't let the bastards cheer you up.

Offline riceral

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 295
    • View Profile
Re: Good notes?
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2016, 08:15:33 PM »
I'm sure everybody does it differently.

without a doubt, everyone has their own way of recording their notes. And it is personal as to what you wish to record. I'm sort of between laissez faire and OCD.

Now here is an example of someone who is very OCD about notes and records. http://www.horscategoriebrewing.com/2016/04/homebrewing-notes.html   I met Dave at NHC this past year and he is a nice guy with lots of knowledge.
Ralph R.

Offline kramerog

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1809
    • View Profile
    • My LinkedIn page
Re: Good notes?
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2016, 09:08:36 PM »
The notes I find most useful are ones I do at the end of the brew day or on the next day summarizing what went well and what didn't.

Offline HoosierBrew

  • Global Moderator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 13030
  • Indianapolis,IN
    • View Profile
Re: Good notes?
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2016, 09:29:38 PM »
Now here is an example of someone who is very OCD about notes and records. http://www.horscategoriebrewing.com/2016/04/homebrewing-notes.html   I met Dave at NHC this past year and he is a nice guy with lots of knowledge.


Ok, he has me beat hands down for OCD. It's impressive (and a ton of work). I get everything on the front and back of a page.
Jon H.

Offline brewinhard

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 3217
    • View Profile
Re: Good notes?
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2016, 11:36:07 PM »
I also include most of these things as well. I hand write all of my recipes down into a journal. I am also sure to write down brew date, cold crash period/temp, and packaging date so I can determine how much time a recipe needs before it peaks (mainly for competitions).

Offline Ale Farmer

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 120
    • View Profile
Re: Good notes?
« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2016, 02:38:15 AM »
I keep handwritten notes in a looseleaf binder of many of the details already mentioned--and I find these very helpful as I play around with recipes and improve my process.

But what also is enjoyable is how notes about other matters slip in--the weather on brew day, something my wife or kids say about my brewing, and so on. In other words, I find my brewing log becomes a kind of accidental journal--which makes it valuable in a different way.
George

Brew and grow...

Bottled:Spruce Ale, Smoked Porter, Spruce Porter, Chinook APA, Wit, Marzen, ESB, Vienna Lager.

Fermenting: Nut Brown Ale, Amber Ale

Next Brews: Irish Red Ale, APA, Mild

Offline el_capitan

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 489
    • View Profile
Re: Good notes?
« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2016, 03:45:02 AM »
Here's a link to the Google Docs spreadsheet I designed for my beers.  If you enter the grain bill, batch size, and boil time, much of the rest auto-fills for you.  It's formatted to print out on one page so you have a hard copy too.  Even if you don't use the spreadsheet, you'll get an idea of what sort of info I can track using this method. 

I used to log my batches using a much less-efficient format, but I have evolved to this over the years.  I use a free brewing program (BrewMate) to work up recipes, then do the water calculations using Bru'nWater. 

Spreadsheet
« Last Edit: September 20, 2016, 11:05:54 PM by el_capitan »

Offline Phil_M

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1689
  • Southern Maryland
    • View Profile
Re: Good notes?
« Reply #14 on: September 20, 2016, 11:38:09 AM »
I design my recipes in Beersmith, then work my water in Bru'n Water. Summaries of both get printed, and I use another sheet of paper to take notes. I'm not the best at taking notes, usually only noting times/temps, any deviations from the plan, fermentation temps/temp changes/times, and sometimes tasting notes. All three live in a clipboard while the beer is in the pipeline, then I transfer everything to a binder later.
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

And don't buy stale beer.