Always keep good notes on what ingredients, amounts and times were used in the brewing process. There are several brewing spreadsheets and software programs available over the Internet that can be a big help. A brewer needs to be able to repeat good batches and learn from poor ones. If you have a bad batch and want to ask another brewer for their opinion, they are going to want to know all the brewing details. They will want to know your ingredients and amounts, how long you boiled, how you cooled, the type of yeast, how long it fermented, what the fermentation looked, what the temperature was, etc. There are so many possible causes for "it tastes funny", that you really need to keep track of everything that you did so you can figure where it might of gone wrong and fix it the next time. Chapter 21 - Is My Beer Ruined?, will help you identify possible causes for most of the common problems.
Write up a recipe form that will allow you to be consistent. See the example on the next page.
Example Recipe Form: Cascade Ale
Cooper's Ale Yeast (re-hydrated)
Northwestern Amber malt extract (dry)
Cooper's Pale malt extract (liquid)
Calculated Original Gravity = 1.045
% Alpha Acid
Calculated IBUs = 40
Boiled 3 gallons of water, turned off heat and stirred in extract. Returned to boiling. Added first hop addition. Boiled 30 minutes and added Cascade and Willamette hops. Boiled another 15 minutes and added final addition of Cascade. Turned off heat and chilled the pot in an ice water bath to 70¡F. Added the 2.5 gallons of wort to 2.5 gallons of water in the fermentor. Aerated by shaking fermentor for five minutes. Pitched yeast.
Fermenter is sitting at 70¡F and started bubbling within 12 hours. Bubbled furiously for 36 hours then slowed. After 4 days, bubbles had stopped completely. It remained in the fermentor for two weeks total. Racked to bottling bucket and primed with 3/4 cup of corn sugar (boiled). Bottles were allowed to condition for two weeks.
Beer is Good! Strong hop taste and aroma. Perhaps a little too bitter. Tone down the bittering hops next time or add more amber malt extract to better balance the beer.
Liddil, J., Palmer, J., Ward Off the Wild Things: A Complete Guide to Cleaning and Sanitation, Zymurgy, Vol. 13, No. 3, 1995.
Palmer, J., Preparing for Brew Day, Brewing Techniques, New Wine Press, Vol. 4, No. 6, 1996.