Visualization When Brewing – Being More Productive

Wanted to talk about Visualization when brewing today. To share some of the tools which have helped me travel the world making beer.

Brewing, can be a complex job. More often than not you’re overseeing several jobs at once. It’s like trying to keep many plates spinning, hoping one won’t fall and break.

Spinning Plates Gif

On a brew day, you’re most likely taking gravities, doing some cellaring work plus filling kegs between different stages of the brewing process.

If your brewery is run well, you’ve most likely got at least a one-month production schedule, which everyone on the production team has. It allows people to know their tasks for the upcoming week and the daily responsibilities.

So, most people in brewing know their jobs for the upcoming day when they wake up in the morning. Whatever’s on the list, there will be jobs, which can be done simultaneously. Like you can CIP (clean in place) a tank and be checking gravities at the same time.

Planning – Visualizing Your Day Ahead

I’ve spoken to many brewers; and some, who’ve been brewing longer, often have the same trait. They visualize their day ahead, so imagined how the work day will go before they even set foot in the brewery.

Then once they have arrived, make sure their work day is properly organized.

Working in a brewery is all about being productive. Essentially brewing is completing a number of tasks before you can leave for the day.

Visualization When Brewing - Neil's Quote

With productivity you have to be organized and focused. So, having a clear plan of how your day will pan out, is a real advantage. As we said, in brewing you’re often doing several tasks at once which can be overwhelming.

Thus without proper management something critical might be forgotten or a mistake made. You can help yourself by visualizing and organizing your work. There are several ways to do this.

Visualization When Brewing – Give Your Brain A Helping Hand

You’ve your task for the day and understand why they need to happen. Instead of keeping everything in your head, try visualizing and organizing your tasks. Why? It ensures you do not forget something or lose the bigger picture.

Back-Up Your Memory with A Hard Copy

We all suffer with forgetfulness sometimes, So, keeping a written to-do someplace you’ve easy access to, will make sure you don’t forget anything.

Plus, being able to review your to-do’s and double check, will put your mind at ease, knowing you’ve not missed anything critical.

Furthermore, knowing your to-do’s from start to finish allows you to assess your work load for the day, which you can change on-the-go if needed.

It can actually be motivating as well!

Furthermore being able to cross out a task after it’s been completed, produces an instant dopamine release. It feels satisfying to finish a task.

The To-Do List – Visualization When Brewing

Your list need not be overly complicated. You can use a notebook, or have a white-board somewhere you can easily read, and check. If you want to go digital then something like TickTick, is one worth taking a look at.

Do the Kanban

Kanban was developed by Toyota, as a workflow visualization method used to streamline their operations. The concept is to focus on the processes, limit unnecessary task plus help find ways to improve the system.

Tasks needing done are written in “cards” which are moved forward depending on their status. It’s a great way for Visualization when brewing.

In brewing, Kanban, is ideal if you want to follow a brew through the whole system, for example. As your board can be from brew day to packaging for instance.

Visualization When Brewing - Kanban Method

Kanban isn’t for daily task but a great way for the whole team to see the bigger picture and keep everyone on the same page.

Trello, is like a digital Kanban board. It’s intuitive to use, easy to update and can be great for the team to work with.

The Prioritization Matrix – Visualization When Brewing

When working in a brewery certain task always have priority. Be it a can order which needs to go out by a certain date, or yeast need propping up for a scheduled brew.

If you’ve many tasks are in need of completion, knowing what needs to be done in which order avoids conflicts and delays. The Eisenhower matrix is a great way to organize and prioritize tasks.

“Dwight D. Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States from 1953 until 1961. Before becoming President, he served as a general in the United States Army and as the Allied Forces Supreme Commander during World War II. He also later became NATO’s first supreme commander.

Dwight had to make tough decisions continuously about which of the many tasks he should focus on each day. This finally led him to invent the world-famous Eisenhower principle, which today helps us prioritize by urgency and importance.

Taken from


How To Utilize the Eisenhower Matrix

You can use a piece of paper or a whiteboard. Then before you start work, draw the matrix and put each job for the day on the box, so you know which one to begin with.

The first quadrant is your DO FIRST, as it is the most important job that needs to be done in the brewery.

The Eisenhower Matrix - Visualization When Brewing
The Eisenhower Matrix

An example could be checking the CO2 of the beer in the brite tank, it’ll let you know if you can bottle straight away or if the beer needs extra CO2 before packaging.

Then there’s the second quadrant called SCHEDULE. It’s for the tasks that are vital but no so urgent. This could be milling the malt for brewing the next day.

Good planning means less jobs are unplanned so, try to manage most of your work in the second quadrant, it’ll reduce stress, because you know a task will be completed in a timely manner before they’re needed.

Furthermore, the third quadrant is for tasks which can be DELEGATED, they’re less important but still urgent. You can keep track of delegated tasks by speaking to the person or using messaging apps. When I worked for AB InBev, most people used WeChat for this purpose.

An example of a delegated task is asking someone to do the gravities of the current fermentations, record them and then send them to you.

Lastly, the fourth quadrant is called DONT DO, why? Well, it’s jobs that you shouldn’t be doing at all. They’re tasks which aren’t productive and take you away from quadrants one and two.

I shouldn’t say this but…

In some breweries, certain departments, do try to push jobs to the production staff. We all want to work as a team. However, some tasks just need to be completed by whichever department is trying to transfer it.

Be respectful, politely decline and tell them about tasks in quadrant one and two which need completing, stating you don’t have time.

Micro-Brewery Setup Costs - Location

Visualization When Brewing – Conclusions

If you want to be successful running your brewery, having proper planning will increase your chances of doing so. With so many tasks to be completed, daily weekly, monthly and annually having them written out plus prioritized, will focus your team and make them more efficient.

It will lessen the chance of miscommunication or misunderstanding leading to a better work environment. A team is only as strong as the weakest link, so giving everyone the tools to be successful will lift everyone up. Therefore; proper planning is the logical first step.

Need Help On A Brewing Project?

If you want help on a brewing project or are looking to source equipment from China. Then let me help you.

Please scan the QR codes below to add me to your preferred network or send me a message, my email address is:

With my years of brewing experience, having worked on several brewhouse installations plus many more brewing kits. I can bring that knowledge to your project.

I use many on the methods listed above to stay on top of brewing projects helping people achieve their brewing goals.

Neil Playfoot

Neil is a brewer with 25 years international brewing experience. Based out of China (first came in 2010) he works as a brewing consultant helping brewers with their projects and brewing processes. To find out what services Neil can provide your brewery please click here. If you'd like to contact Neil you can email at
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