Menu Icon

Looking for homebrewing gift ideas? Check out our previous gift guides here or here!
Also, if you enjoy BrewUnited, please consider doing your Amazon shopping via our affiliate link!

Reviewing the Brewers' Ledger - Organize Your Brew Logs

Posted by homebrewdad on 11/20/2015 at 11:06:20 AM

A couple of weeks ago, my buddy Marshall (widely known as the great Brulosopher) put me in contact with a gentleman by the name of Tony Pawela. Tony was looking for someone to review his creation, the Brewers' Ledger, but Marshall just had too many irons in the fire to do so himself.

I'll admit that I thought about it for a bit before I volunteered to do the review. The fact of the matter is that I'm a huge fan of Beersmith, and I take pretty meticulous records in it already. Also, my handwriting is pretty poor - okay, my handwriting is downright atrocious - making written notes not exactly my thing. So, to be perfectly honest, I had my doubts as to how useful I would find such a product. That said, Beersmith is pretty clunky in terms of keeping your notes organized, so I figured that the Brewers' Ledger might be worth a look.

Full disclosure: as mentioned above, the Brewers' Ledger was provided to me at no cost, for the specific purpose of having me review it. Links in this page point to Amazon, where the book is self published; these links do include the BrewUnited affiliate code.

With that said, the following review is 100% true and accurate, and is in my own words. Tony Pawela did not suggest any portion of, edit, or even read my review prior to my public post.

The day that my copy arrived in the mail, my wife called me at work to ask if I recognized the sender of the package. I did not (my memory is often comparable to that of a goldfish), so I had her open the envelope. When she told me what it was, it jogged my memory, and I told her that I was supposed to review the Brewers' Ledger. She - being a non brewer and non beer person - was very impressed with it, so my expectations were raised.

First Impression

I have to admit, her impression was pretty spot on. The book itself is very attractive, featuring simple but attractive icons on the cover, and an eye-pleasing color scheme (mine was red, but they also come in green, blue, and dark gray). The binding seems to be of high quality, and the book both looks and feels good in my hands. The table of contents features space for eighteen batches of beer, as well as inventory pages for your various ingredients, a calendar, a brewing formulas section, and a "Using Brewers' Ledger" section. The Ledger also includes three tags for recording information about a given batch, then attaching to your fermentation vessel.

Brewers' Ledger, with fermentor tags
My Brewers' Ledger, with fermentor tags.

In a bit of an unusual development, my wife spent a fair amount of time with the book, and just kept gushing over it. She absolutely loved the idea of a written, permanent record of one's brewing, mentioning that it could even be a keepsake to hand down to your children. Who was this woman, and what had she done with my practical, non-sentimental wife?

The Nitty Gritty

Obviously, the central focus of this book is the brewing batch record pages themselves. Each batch is given four full pages of extremely well organized content. The first page has space for a picture or the like, as well as the vital statistics of your brew such as gravity (OG and FG), IBUs, batch size, style, brew and finish dates, efficiency, and space for water chemistry notes.

First page of a set of brew logs
First page of a set of brew logs

Page two is where you record your grain bill, any other water notes, and mash details.

Malt, water, mash notes
Malt, water, mash notes.

Page three is for your hops schedule, yeast information, and fermentation schedule.

Page four contains packaging information (volume, CO2 level, temperature, priming), as well as a notes section that very much follows the structure of a BJCP score sheet - i.e. sections for aroma, appearance, flavor, mouthfeel, and overall impression.

The brew pages themselves are laid out logically, easy to understand, and easy to use. Every section gives ample space (malt and hops, for instance, each have ten lines dedicated to them), with sufficient columns to accommodate pretty much any information you might hope to record. The brew pages are obviously the central focus of this book, and I honestly can't think of a way that they could be improved.

Other Features

After the brew pages, you get a brief inventory section - two pages for recording your hops (name, AA%, date obtained and amount for each) and two pages for your grains (date obtained and amount). Two pages for each type translates to space for a dozen of each ingredient.

The book then includes four pages of what is essentially graph paper. I suppose that this is for drawing out plans or the like? Honestly, this section confused me a bit.

Next, we have a calendar. Each month takes up two pages of the book, and gives plenty of room to write within the days, as well as space for notes on the side. However, there are only twelve total calendar pages provided - which translated to a mere six months.

After this, we get a section of brewing formulas and charts. I can absolutely see the value in these, as they give quick reference on a host of subjects ranging from extract potential, to a priming sugar chart, to a hop utilization chart, to a gravity/temperature adjustment chart - and many more. You get seven full pages of this kind of data arranged in a logical way, which ends up serving as an extremely useful glossary.

The brewing formulas are very useful
The brewing formulas are very useful.

Finally, we have a section on how to use the book, including sample illustrations on how to fill out the various pages.

The Verdict

The Brewers' Ledger will look great on a bookshelf, and does an admirable job of its primary purpose of giving you a place to organize your brewing logs. However, I feel like there are a few items that force me to rate it as a good, but not outstanding, product.

First off is the fact that, with a traditionally bound book like this, the book doesn't naturally stay open to the page you are writing in. This isn't a huge deal, and you can easily crease the pages to get them to stay put, but a spiral binding - while not being as attractive - would have made the book a little easier to use.

The list price of $18 feels a little steep to me; even my wife (who otherwise loved the product) felt that this was a little high. Since you can record eighteen brews in the book, you're essentially looking at a cost of one dollar per brew. Clearly, that's not a huge outlay of cash in a hobby like ours, but I really would have liked to have seen more space for the brew pages, especially for the price.

The brewing formulas section is an extremely useful reference, and a fantastic addition. The rest of the supplemental pages, though, are uneven at best. In my opinion, the inventory section is far too small; I can't imagine someone using only a dozen total malts across eighteen brews. Then again, I may be thinking about this section wrong; perhaps you should only include grains and hops that you purchase in bulk here, rather than inventorying every single item that you use an ounce of on one occasion. The graph paper, as mentioned, puzzles me a bit, and the calendar is far too short to be useful to the typical brewer; I just don't see most home brewers burning through all eighteen of their brews in a six month period. Also, I'm not sure that we needed several pages on how to use the book, as almost every page is presented in a very self evident manner. Why not include a link to a web page for those who really needed a tutorial, then use those saved pages for more room for brews, inventory, etc?

Also, forgive my pedantry, but why call it the "Brewers' Ledger", implying possession of more than one brewer? The book is supposed to be a place for you to record your brews, your recipes; why not use "Brewer's Ledger" as the name, making it clear that the ledger belongs to a single brewer?

Okay, I will now remove my grammar police hat.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting that the Brewers' Ledger deserves to be used as a solution to fixing that unlevel utility table. It again does a great job of giving you a place to organize your brewing logs. Even with the warts mentioned above, I have not seen a product that I would consider to be superior, as the core functionality here is excellent.

I have come around to the idea of having my brewing notes organized in one tangible place, and this is clearly a far superior solution when compared to the old fashioned notebook, so I'm planning to use my Brewers' Journal going forward. Again, the overall quality is very nice, and I see myself getting a lot of enjoyment out of using this product. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I would be quite pleased to find one of these in my stocking at Christmas. If record keeping is your thing, I believe that you will get a lot of enjoyment out of a Brewers' Journal (or from multiple copies, as need be).

Tags for this post: brewers, ledger, brew, log, notes, book

Please log in to comment on this post
Don't have an account?


I received this one as a gift and love it. Thanks for the idea of handing it down to my kids as well.

posted by Rainmanak44 on 11/20/2015 at 01:05:28 PM