Are Brewing Spreadsheets Enough?

Man and woman sitting at computer looking at brewing spreadsheets

Like any startup, a craft brewery can quickly grow beyond the founders’ wildest dreams. As the growing pains set in, many teams will look for ways to standardize their brewing processes, plan ahead more effectively, and analyze cost patterns to improve their profit margins. On this quest, many begin with the obvious option: brewing spreadsheets.

While spreadsheets at first feel like a step toward better organization and away from the stacks of printed-out logs and notes, they can pile up just as quickly as actual paper. Soon enough, the one or two computers in the brewery’s back office are weighed down with a massive number of files. Locating the information you need — let alone ensuring its accuracy and sharing it with the right people — becomes a full-time job that nobody wanted.

If you’ve been on the hunt for these types of templates, take a step back and think about what you’re trying to accomplish. Let’s look at some of the most common problems breweries try to solve with brewing spreadsheets and see how they measure up as business management solutions.

1. Scaling Beer Recipes & Tracking Fermentation Metrics

You’re looking for a beer recipe calculator or brewing log sheet.

As demand for your products grows, you may look to scale single-turn recipes into multi-turn recipes to increase your production capacity. A spreadsheet or well-built online tool could certainly accomplish the simple task of scaling the recipe for you — so what’s the issue? Your list of recipes will likely grow significantly over time, and storing each one in a brewing spreadsheet and manually calculating the scaled-up versions will take up time that could be better spent sourcing the perfect ingredients and testing product quality. You’re better off using software that has recipe management features built in, allowing you to plan for the long haul rather than finding a temporary solution.

With such a system, you can also track metrics for each batch in associated (digital) brewing logs, allowing you to easily look back at previous versions of your flagship beers and compare to current batches. Again, while a brewing log sheet (printed or digital) may work when you’re first starting out, recording these metrics in a unified system allows for easier accessibility among different team members and makes it easier to find the information you need quickly.

2. Creating a Production Schedule

ekos software screenshot

You’re looking for a brewing schedule spreadsheet.

We’ve seen many breweries create production schedule spreadsheets with complicated color-coding systems and display them on TVs around the production floor for employees to reference. They can be onerous to build and even more frustrating to maintain as different fields are accidentally erased and formulas become glitchy. Plus, they don’t automatically connect to any kind of task management system, so if you want to send reminders to employees responsible for different parts of the production process, you’ll need to manage that separately.

“Ekos has saved countless hours. We used to rely heavily on spreadsheets, but they do have their shortcomings. Ekos helps lessen that gap.” 

– Adam Connell, production coordinator at D9 Brewing Company

A brewery-specific production management system is better suited for growing teams that want to stay organized and get better at planning ahead. You can connect everything at the batch level — recipes, related tasks for different team members, equipment, inventory, and more. With Ekos specifically, you can even get a birds-eye view by using the facility view of the production floor.

One of the biggest issues teams without software run into is tracking raw ingredient inventory and remembering to order additional materials before you need them. With software, you can set reorder points and get notifications when something is running low. That way you avoid downtime and the costly expedited shipping costs that are required if you wait until the last minute.

3. Analyzing Brewery Costs

You’re looking for a brewery cost spreadsheet.

You want to be more intentional about reviewing your brewery’s financial metrics on a regular basis and keeping an eye on costs and margins. That makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is expecting a brewing spreadsheet to provide all the information you need in an efficient manner.

Here’s the deal: If you want to improve business visibility and get a more accurate picture of your cost of goods sold (COGS), you and the rest of your team must painstakingly record inventory, production, and sales data every day as you’re completing tasks. There’s no way around it. And the reality is that spreadsheets are not the best way to do this accurately in real time.

For one, a small typo in any one of these spreadsheets can make your bottom-line financial metrics inaccurate and, therefore, useless. With brewery management software, you have one primary system of record where every action by any user leaves a trace. You won’t lose a vital piece of information to one tiny accidental keystroke.

What’s more, you can use reports built into the software to quickly see the metrics you’re looking for with up-to-the-minute data. By contrast, how often will your team take the time to sit down in the office and fill out a spreadsheet?

“The one thing Ekos does really well is that it’s fully transactional, much like an accounting system. It’s not easy to go in and accidentally delete stuff and if you do, it leaves a record. In a spreadsheet, I can make changes and you wouldn’t know. In Ekos it’s more transparent.”

– Adam Crandall, co-founder of Moody Ales

Make More With Ekos

Ekos is a brewery management software that helps you make more beer, make more revenue, and make more of your data. With Ekos, you’ll streamline processes, save time, and discover insights to help you grow your business.

Learn more about our capabilities or get in touch with our team today.

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Written by Becca