Have you ever realized about half way into your brew day that you missed a step? How about when you get all your ingredients out and you find out you forgot to buy something?
Well, I have done both and it can pretty much ruin your brew day, and maybe your beer.
As a homebrewer, I’m sure you have been beaten over the head with people telling you to write everything down, take notes, and that everything matters…and it does. It may sound tedious, but you will thank yourself when it comes to recreating that perfect beer or even answering a question about your beer from a fellow homebrewer.
One of the easiest ways to get organized is with a brew day checklist. If you use brewing software there is a good chance that it has some method of creating a checklist for you. A great free resource is Brewers Friend. If you have never used a brew day checklist, this is a great place to start. Some of the steps may seem silly like; “make sure valves are closed” but many times it’s the small things that get missed.
For me, I’m all about customization. I built a checklist that works for me, my set-up and methods. Google Docs or Excel are great programs to build your checklist in.
If you chose to build your own checklist there is one thing to remember, it does not have to be perfect to work. If fact, as you use your list you will find things that work great and items you left off. Since it’s your own list, you can make all the adjustments to customize it for you.
One thing I include is “Time”.
- Time you start
- Time start the mash
- Time you start the sparge
- Time you end the brew day.
You get the point. First off it’s really good to know how long your brew day REALLY is. In the past I have found myself trying to squeeze in a 6-hour brew day into 5-1/2 hours, it just doesn’t work. In addition, writing down the times is a great way to keep you on track.
Another item I like to track is my sanitization. During the boil I list out each hop addition and time.
What I also do is insert reminder items like:
- sanitize kettle lid
- sanitize fermenter
- sanitize air lock
Not only are the good reminders, they also help you make the best use of you time.
When it comes to your brew day checklist, it does not need to be prefect. In fact, I consider mine a work in progress that can always be tweaked for improvement as my equipment changes, styles of brew changes or just how I plan my brew day.
Do you use a checklist or just wing it?