In order to brew good beer, you need good preparation. You’ve probably heard a coach, parent or teacher tell you the 5 P’s.
Or some variation on that theme…
I’ll show you how I plan out my brewing to make best use of my time, equipment and yeast.
This just requires a quick read and downloading of the Excel file or creating your own. What you do from here is up to you. You’ll be able to download my file at the end of this post.
I really love Gantt charts and how they can help you to be organized. Microsoft Project is either a really good or really bad tool to use (depending on who you ask). I actually like it for projects that I manage at work, but I don’t get into the fine details. I just use it for basic timelines, since it really helps me see the big picture. I started looking at using it for my fermentation schedules, but in brewing, your yeast are on a 24/7 schedule and I was finding all sorts of roadblocks in using 24 hour schedules in Project.
I ultimately decided to go back to my old trusted Excel spreadsheets for this task. This format has served me well for the last two years. I don’t claim that this is the ultimate way to do it, but it might at least serve as inspiration for someone else to create something grander.
Hover or click on each section to learn how I use this sheet.
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All info below is a repeat for those whose browsers or mobile devices don’t like the image map format.
Beer Description and Basics:
These columns simply denote the batch number, size, name and the yeast to use. I just added yeast this year so I can manage my yeast more efficiently with re-use and/or racking onto yeast cakes.
Yeast Color Codes:
I heard on one of the brewing podcasts that you can actually go 8+ generations with really healthy yeast, but since I’m not in any kind of production capacity, I’m usually at the third generation before I’ve reached the end of my step ups.
Since I typically brew on Saturdays, I just chose the Saturday date preceding the next week as my column headers. I then highlight the weekends where we were either out of town, that weekend was off limits to brewing or maybe a weekend for a school break for the kids.
Very Top Row:
I didn’t enter any beers for NHCthis year, but I did enter some in the Indiana Brewers Cup. I had a week highlighted for the due date for entries and then the actual awards banquet.
This is really the core of my schedule, since it helps manage the timing of your brews along with your equipment capacity. As you can see in my schedule, I typically brew two batches at a time (as mentioned in the ABOUT MY BREWING). When pairs of three are shown, I’ve started messing with maxing out my kettles with 1.5x the grain bill and reducing the water a little during the mash and boil, so that I get 3 batches (~15 gallons for me) out of one brew session.
Since most of my fermentations just follow a similarly timed schedule, all I do is just cut & paste (CNTL-X & CNTL-V for those like-minded keyboard shortcut preferring keyboard jockeys). You may notice that I plan to try out the condensed lagering schedule later this year that is getting some attention lately. Here is a link to Brulosophy’s Lager Method.
Like I said, I hope that this helps a fellow brewer out for mapping out their schedule or inspires another to build on this or create their own. Happy Brewing!!
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