Friday 26 January 2024


I stuff the information I harvest from brewing records into a spreadsheet. OG, FG, malts, sugars, hops, boil times, length of fermentation. But nothing about mashing details.

When I started the spreadsheet, it had far fewer columns. I've added extra ingredients and other stuff. Boil and fermentation details. I avoided mashing, because I wasn't sure what I'd record, brewing records being very inconsistent in exactly which details they noted down.

Whilst dodging the dogs and raindrops while walking along the lake, my mind turned to this topic. What would I record?

I'd need a column for each action in the mash tun. Every mash, underlet and sparge. Early 19th-century Porter mostly had four mashes. I've seen plenty of examples of five-step mashing schemes. Best add at least one or two columns to be on the safe side.

What to record for each step? That is, the number of sub-columns. Not all appropriate to every step. And rarely all present in a brewing record.

Action (mash, sparge or underlet)
Volume of water
Strike heat
Initial heat
Time mashed
Time stood
Tap heat
Tap volume
Tap gravity

Nine sub-columns times six or seven columns is far to fucking many. No chance of me retrofitting it to my spreadsheet. It's less work for me to simply look at the brewing record when I need the information, such as when writing a recipe.

Oh. And this is just for UK-style mashing. No use at all for decoction schemes.


Andreas Krennmair said...

Sometimes, just recording it as free text is the most effective way. There are just so many variations in the process and details in the timing, a spreadsheet just doesn't cut it. I notice that even with my own homebrewing records.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious how historians deal with this in other fields.

I could see for example someone transposing church marriage records into databases. There would be certain fields that would be consistent for all marriages, such as date, location, name of the bride and groom, and maybe a few others such as names of parents or priest.

But there must be a lot of idiosyncratic data that they would want to preserve from the registers which didn't resolve nicely into standard data fields.

Christoph Riedel said...

What could be an option would be to define a "typical mash" for the time and region and then only write the variations in free text.