Brew Your Own Boot Camp – Day 2

Check out my post for my Day 1 at the 2018 Brew Your Own Boot Camp for background.

Day 2 started out similar, with a morning session for all the attendees to gather free swag and continue conversations with fellow brewers, just before we parted ways into our own smaller sessions. I picked up quite a bit of swag, with the exception of a couple purchases, including a BYO brew shirt and hat, and a copy of Brewing Better Beer from Gordon Strong (got it signed too, geeky but cool).


Today’s session was on Recipe Formulation, with Brad Smith leading the way. Brad Smith is the founder/owner/designer of the popular brewing software BeerSmith.

There are many approaches to homebrew tracking, recipes and the like. You can go the paper route, with recipe creation sheets and brew day logs, or with spreadsheets, the digital paper, or lastly with brewing software. My current career is in the technology field and I chose the red pill (for you Matrix fans), so I went with software.

I am in the process of rediscovering brewing and homebrewing beer, of which will include learning the manual calculations and processes that the software currently handles. If you follow me on social media, you would’ve seen the stack of books I am in the process of reading. I think it’s very important to know the background in more detail in order to brew better beer.

Back to the software…I am currently weaning myself off of iBrewmaster and over to BeerSmith (post for another day). I was excited to join this session, so I could gain more insight on the BeerSmith app from the developer himself and learn ways to improve my recipes.

The opening remarks, stood out to me, which was to make sure you look at the artistic side of brewing and not just focus on the technical. Although I’ve been in the technology field for the last 20 years, I like to think that I have a decent artistic side and that was just reinforcement for me to continue thinking outside of the box when brewing.

Lunch  was good again, with Ballast Point Sculpin, chicken and pasta, and key lime dessert. For discussion Brad Ring, Publisher for BYO, introduced Aaron Hyde, Ashton Lewis, Michael Tonsmeire, and Gordon Strong, who are all contributing authors to BYO. We had a little Q & A time before heading back to class.


The session continued on with discussions on starting with your inspiration – are you submitting to a competition, want to clone a beer, want to use a specific ingredient, and so on; write down your goal upfront to give yourself a path and something to compare your end results with; or, start with something you know and build upon it. This is the approach I have taken for the majority of my, over 35 now, recipes brewed to date.

We went over building recipes based on percentage (%), rather than specific measurements – much easier to adapt variations and scale up/down. We also went into details and considerations on hops, yeast, water and the mash. Troubleshooting beers was next, and as we learned about the main off flavors, there was some interesting samples being made.

This was the last thing we all thought we’d see, especially at a homebrew training, but if you’re going to do some bad taste testing, why not… Eh, to each their own I guess right?

Finally we got to the software, the pièce de résistance. Although I wish we had a couple more hours to go over it, Brad went through a good portion and I was more comfortable with the transition I was heading into. I learned a few tricks to using it as well and hope to post more on it as I go through the setup.

Another reception rounded out the day with some more beer tastings, left over swag, and good company.

Onto the insider brewery tours (coming soon)