Call It Your Own - Homebrew Academy


For the Homebrewer who wants to get the most from their hobby...

How To Go From a
 Recipe Follower
to a Recipe

Introducing the first course to give you a step-by-step process for
designing your very own beers you can be proud of

There's one part of homebrewing that gives me more enjoyment and more satisfaction than anything else.

It's that feeling of handing someone a beer I brewed, and when they ask me where I got the recipe, I proudly respond...

"I designed it myself."

Oh yea. Without a doubt, my favorite part of this hobby is creating my own recipes.

And I'm not alone. Many of our Homebrew Academy readers say the same thing. When I asked them why they enjoy brewing their own recipes, here's what some of them told me.

"I want something I can truly call my own"  - Robert

"For the satisfaction of saying I created a beer from scratch" - Jim

"I like to understand how the ingredients affect the outcome" - Tim

"To say I created something completely on my own,
not just by following a recipe" - Kirstin

"Because nobody knows my tastes as well as I do" - Matt

Whether it's crafting a smooth & roasty stout, a hop-bomb IPA, or a beer style the world has never tasted... when you're able to rubber-stamp a recipe with your personal trademark? That, my friend, is homebrewing nirvana.

Hey, I'm Billy. Founder of Homebrew Academy and BJCP beer judge. I've wanted to design my own beer recipes since my very first batches. And even though I didn't know what the heck I was doing back then, I did know that I wanted to create, not copy.

So I poured over homebrewing books like Designing Great Beers and Brewing Classic Styles. I brewed everything from kits to recipes I found online and in books.

And it almost hurts to admit this but...

Most of my early recipes missed the mark by a mile

Even with the advice from books and blog posts, the recipe creation process was completely overwhelming. Why was it so hard to go from an idea in my head to a finished beer?

I ran into 3 major roadblocks when creating recipes.

Roadblock #1: We want to experiment with ingredients, but at the same time, we want don't want to risk losing batch.

After all, we can only brew so many batches in a given year. Each batch is precious. So we're afraid of screwing one up.

This fear of failure made me less adventurous in my brewing. When I'd screwed up a recipe (this happened a lot), I'd get gun-shy. I'd go back to brewing kits for a while.

Sure, the beer tasted pretty good. But I never got much satisfaction out of brewing kits. You don't feel much like a real brewer when everything comes pre-measured in a cardboard box.

Roadblock #2:  When brewing someone else's recipe, the numbers rarely add up. The recipe calls for a starting gravity of 1.060, but your beer comes in at 1.052.

What the heck? Is it our fault, or the person who wrote the recipe? Can we even trust the recipes we find online?

It's tough to improve a recipe when you can't even brew it as intended.

Roadblock #3: I think we can all agree on this one...

Trying to choose the best ingredients is a pain in the ass!

The biggest challenge is that it's so difficult to figure out what to put in and what to leave out. The conversation in our head goes something like this...

"Do I use crystal malt or not?"

"If I use it, should I go with crystal 20L or crystal 40L?"

"And do I use 1lb or 2lb? Will I even notice a difference?"

And that's just one decision among dozens we make for every single recipe! No wonder recipe creation can be so maddening...

With so many variables you can tweak in a recipe, and only so many brew days available on our calendars, how do we consistently create recipes that taste the way we imagine them in our head?

Without any clear answers to these problems, I did what most of us do -- I trudged ahead. I brewed. Dozens of batches. And I made a lot of mistakes.

Eventually, I got pretty good at working with recipes. My process became consistent. Reliable. There were very few unexpected surprises when I tasted my beers.

I even started designing recipes from scratch! Like this now super popular Citra Pale Ale recipe.



There's nothing more rewarding than someone brewing your recipe... and loving it

Then I started submitting my recipes to competitions and winning medals. Here's a mild ale recipe I'm extremely proud of. I jumped for joy when it won a gold medal in a large Colorado homebrewing competition.


My mild ale recipe, called Mild Peril, which I dialed in until it tasted exactly how I wanted

But I didn't only create "normal" beers. Much of the fun in homebrewing is creating something totally off the wall.

Because I finally understood recipe design, I could create those wacky beers I daydreamed about while slacking off at work. And most importantly -- these off the wall brews turned out great!

Like this margarita beer made with salt, key lime, and naturally carbonated with Tripel Sec. I know, I was skeptical too. But it turned out delicious. And it even scored a 43 (out of 50) from Master-ranked BJCP judge in a Denver homebrew competition.


My crazy margarita beer really impressed a Master BJCP beer judge

Homebrewing became much more fun once I got the hang of recipes. I mean, I always enjoyed brewing. Who doesn't enjoy making beer? But this felt like I had reached the next level.

So how did I go from recipe confusion to winning competitions?

It wasn't any special brewing talent, that's for sure.

No, when I reflect back on it, there were a few techniques that led to this breakthrough.

The 5 Keys to Designing Great Beers

Take a "Flavor First" approach

When I first started creating recipes, I was a "Numbers First" guy. When I had a recipe idea, the first thing I would do is fire up BeerSmith and start plugging in numbers. That's because I saw everyone else doing the same thing.

It turns out that designing a beer by the numbers (OG, IBU, ABV, etc) is the wrong way to design recipes.

Instead of a Numbers First approach, I got way better results when I took a Flavor First approach.

Here's what that means...

Think about how a great chef like Bobby Flay puts together recipes. He's not behind a computer crunching numbers.

He's tasting raw ingredients. He's doing little experiments to find what combinations work well. He develops a clear vision of what he wants to create and then he executes on it.

But for whatever reason (my theory is it's because many brewers are very analytical), homebrewers love to dive right into the numbers.

Designing your recipes by the numbers sets you down the wrong path from the very beginning.  And going down that path makes it very difficult to create a recipe that matches what you have in your head.

"I was very much a brew by the numbers first person . Brewing by numbers first will make beer, but brewing by flavor first will make your beer."

- Travis T., CIYO class of Sept 2016

You must think about future batches, not just the one you're brewing now

The best way to describe my early batches is "random." I brewed whatever caught my interest in the moment. I'd see a good looking recipe for a porter, brew it, and then move on to the next shiny object.

And as a result, my recipes never improved. I felt like I was going in circles. I never learned what certain ingredients contributed to the final flavor. And each batch was like starting back at square one.

A breakthrough moment came when I realized that I needed to stop thinking about each batch as an individual event. Instead, I saw each batch as part of the bigger picture.

My new approach to recipes was...

"Okay, what can I learn on this batch that will help me design future recipes?"

When I changed the way I looked at recipes, not only did my beer improve, but I dramatically shortened the learning curve on recipe development.

Today, I have specific techniques I use to help me figure out the right ingredients to use for every recipe I create. The result is that my beer closely matches my vision.

Forget the "from scratch or nothing" mindset

One of the reasons my early recipes were duds was because I jumped directly from brewing other people's recipes to attempting my own creations from scratch. I see homebrewers falling into this trap all the time. But there is a middle-ground in between kits and "from scratch" recipes.

For example, you can take someone else's recipe and customize it to your palate. Maybe you use a different hop variety. Or maybe you boost the alcohol. Some of my best recipes came from tweaking an existing recipe to my liking.

Are these recipes considered mine? Absolutely.

Any time you tailor the flavors to your palate you are making it your own. The key is to adjust the recipe intentionally, and not because you have to. You know, like because you're brewing a smaller batch or because your store is out of the hops you need.

When you learn how to adjust ingredients and predict the outcome, you become a much better brewer.

You must take control over your brewing

Other people's recipes you come across can throw you off for three reasons.

  • Recipes often have mistakes. I've come across so many recipes that contain errors it's not even funny.

    I'd find a recipe online, plug all the ingredients into BeerSmith, and then realize the original gravity BeerSmith spit out is different than what's stated on the recipe. 

    Did the recipe have a typo? Tough to tell. It's not like I could easily get in touch with this random internet person and ask them.

  • Recipes are often incomplete. Homebrew recipes are notorious for lacking vital piece of information. Usually it's the mash efficiency that's missing. Or the alpha acid percentage of the hops.

    So unless you can get a hold of the recipe author (again, good luck with that), you're left to fill in the blanks yourself. And that's only if you know what to look for.

  • Here's the biggest one: The recipe you're following was designed for that homebrewer's equipment. And if you follow their recipe verbatim, it's a big mistake.

So if you take away one lesson from this letter, it's this: to become a great homebrewer, you need to take control over your brewing.

That means you can't blindly follow other people's instructions. Instead, you take other recipes as mere suggestions. Because you know you'll need to adapt them to your equipment.

Ever since I had this realization, I haven't brewed a single recipe exactly the way it was written. There's always at least one change I make.

Why do I always make changes to other people's recipes?

  • Because I brew a specific batch size
  • Because I have my own specific mash efficiency which is almost always different than the other homebrewer's
  • Because I know how much utilization I get from my hops
  • Because how I conduct the mash and sparge determines the amount of water I use

You have your own unique equipment setup, too. Different than mine or anyone else's.

I'm telling ya... once you stop blindly following recipes, and start treating them as mere suggestions -- suggestions you pass through your "brewing filter" -- you'll gain much more consistency and control over your process.

And that will free you up to have more fun with recipes, brew with more creativity, and explore new beer styles.

Become your own best source of feedback

At the end of the day, your palate is the final judge of your beer. That's why no one else can tell you exactly which ingredients to put into your recipe.

A homebrewer on a forum might recommend biscuit malt for your stout, but what if you don't like the flavor of biscuit malt?

Ask people for suggestions, for sure, but if you're going to get good at designing beers, you can't over-rely on other people's opinions.

Not someone in your homebrew club. Not someone on HomebrewTalk. Not even me.

The one opinion you should give the most weight is your own.

So the question is, how do you figure out which ingredients you like and dislike?

I developed a process to solve that problem. It worked for me, but I wanted to find out if I could teach this process to other homebrewers.

The end result is the premium course you have an opportunity to join today. It's worked wonders for our past students. Here are a few of them in their own words.

Meet a few of our
CIYO Graduates

Marc Stevens ( Web Design Media )

"The CIYO lessons were really a game changer for me... "

The CIYO lessons were really a game changer for me. I had never created a recipe from scratch, and I was putting a lot of faith in recipes I found online. CIYO gave me the process. Now I'm thinking of cool beer themes which give me a vision and flavor snapshots that can put the vision in reality. Definitely thankful for all I learned.

- Dan D.
Marc Stevens ( Web Design Media )

"Billy helped me create my first recipe on my very own..."

Call It Your Own is a fantastic course. Billy helped me create my first recipe on my very own. His attention to detail and great ability to communicate made the process easier than I thought possible."

- Lucio Daniel de Nobrega
Marc Stevens ( Web Design Media )

"I wasn't sure which malts to use... "

The biggest thing CIYO helped me with was focus. I used to sit down in front of BeerSmith and twiddle around for a couple of hours. I was not sure which malts to use, what amounts, which hops and at what times. Now, after the course, I have a plan to guide me. It's taught me to simplify and evaluate my beer in order to achieve the results I want.

- Alden B.

Introducing "Call It Your Own"


Hours of HD videos lessons you can watch from any device. Your computer, smart phone, or tablet.

Worksheets in every module so you're always taking meaningful action towards your (delicious) final product.

A step-by-step process that never leaves you asking, "What do I do next?"

Start Here: The Foundation

 You'll start your CIYO journey in The Foundation.

These lessons will guide you down the fastest path towards creating your own recipes. I'll teach you the exact skills you need to become an expert recipe designer.

Who's this module for?

  • Newer homebrewers who want to start tweaking recipes but don't know where to start
  • Homebrewers who are having trouble hitting their numbers
  • Homebrewers who need help with brewing calculations and using software

Here's just some of what you'll learn...

  • ​How to read a homebrew recipe using real life examples found "in the wild"
  • Finally, a clear explanation on the difference between mash efficiency and brewhouse efficiency. This could be the reason why you miss your numbers.
  • ​A clever technique to hit your target gravity right on the nose, every time
  • How to achieve flavor consistency so you can rebrew your winners again and again
  • ​How to use sugar and adjuncts without making your beer "cidery" tasting
  • The 2-Recipe Concept. A new way of looking at homebrew recipes that will make it dead simple for you to figure out how much water you'll need on brew day.
  • BeerSmith tutorials that focus only on the recipe-building essentials and ignore all the bells and whistles
  • Video demonstrations using free online software in case you don't own BeerSmith
  • ​What to do when a recipe has missing information
  • How to convert a recipe that has a different mash efficiency
  • How to scale recipes to fit your batch size
  • How to convert an all-grain recipe to extract, and vice-versa

"After taking your online course I am really starting to dial in my system and my brew days. The tip about batch size
has been a game changer."

- Steven B.

Once you've got the recipe basics down, we'll move on to the step-by-step process for designing and brewing your own original recipes.

You'll notice that each core module is a specific step in the process of creating your own recipe.

That's what makes this course so unique. It tells you exactly what to do, and when. It is not just an information dump.

Module 1. Define Your Vision

  • ​The single biggest mistake homebrewers make when creating their own recipes
  • ​A simple test to use at the very start to see if you're on the right track with your recipe
  • ​The 7 types of recipes and why you need to know which you're brewing before diving into recipe design
  • ​The critical decision you must make before you touch pen to paper
  • Proven, palate-pleasing flavor combinations you can build into your recipes
  • It has not all been done before. Here are some largely unexplored regions of the beer universe. Will you stake your claim?
  • Do this one easy step (that so many brewers skip) and you'll avoid a failed batch
  • How to put your own unique spin on popular styles like IPAs, stouts, brown ales, and pale ales
  • Clashing flavors! Avoid these at all costs. Here are the ingredients you don't want to combine in your recipes.

Module 1 Worksheet: Define Your Vision

Module 2. Aim for the Bullseye

  • ​How nail all your recipes in fewer tries
  • ​13 "hacks" to predict your beer's flavor without actually brewing a batch
  • ​How to steal ideas from commercial beers and plug those flavors into your recipes
  • ​What to always include in your brewing notes (this alone will shave years off the learning curve, but I've never seen this technique used outside CIYO)
  • How to decide between similar malts like Cystal 40L vs. Crystal 20L
  • A step-by-step guide to building your grain bill
  • A step-by-step guide to building your hop bill
  • A step-by-step guide to determining your hop schedule
  • A step-by-step guide to choosing the perfect yeast
  • The keys to brewing great IPAs, Stouts, Belgians, and your other favorite beer styles
  • "Base Beer" recipe templates with dozens of ways to customize them to your liking

Module 2 Worksheet: Aim for the Bullseye

Module 3. Plan Your Brew and Brew Your Plan

  • ​The step-by-step process for taking your recipe from an idea to a finalized brewing plan
  • How to make those tough final decisions about which ingredients stay in your recipe, and which to eliminate
  • ​Why the sequence for entering your ingredients into the software matters, and how to do it 
  • ​How to handle homebrew "curveballs" like ingredients you can't get your hands on
  • Quick reference guides for determining the right amount of malt or hops to use
  • The precise moment when you should enter your recipe into the software (the timing of this is critical)
  • 45 different brewing techniques that drive the flavor of your beer. I'll help you choose the best ones to use in your recipe.
  • A 10-point "sanity check" to make sure you didn't make any big mistakes in your recipe
  • The difference between hop techniques like flameout hops, hop stand, whirlpool hops, first wort hopping, and dry hops. Plus my recommendations based on real tests.

  • Module 3 Worksheet: Plan Your Brew and Brew Your Plan

Module 4. The Feedback Loop

  • ​How to evaluate your beer like a beer judge
  • A detailed checklist to diagnose what needs to be improved in your beer
  • ​The "Ripple Effect" dilemma: when you correct one problem in your beer, you often create another. Here's what to do.
  • How to decide what to change in your next batch, and what you should leave alone
  • ​The single biggest improvement you can make in any recipe
  • How to make your malt shine through for that deep, rich flavor
  • How to boost your hop aroma so it smells like the best IPAs on the market
  • What to do when your beer tastes "muddy" and the flavors don't pop
  • How to achieve that soft, creamy mouthfeel you get in the best stouts
  • How to get more balance in your beer
  • How to dial in a recipe that is almost perfect, but not quite where you want it
  • How to boost the alcohol content without comprimising flavor (this is easy to get wrong)

Module 4 Worksheet: The Feedback Loop

Plus a Huge Stack of "Extras" to Help You Design Great Recipes Even Faster

Remember that one of the major goals of CIYO is to save you the time and frustration of tinkering with recipes.

You'll get our private vault of "plug and play" resources to help you design foolproof recipes -- fast.

  • ​Hop usage charts that show you how many ounces per gallon of hops to use depending on how hoppy you want your beer to taste
  • Grain bill breakdowns that show you common percentage for base malts and specialty malts across a wide array of beer styles
  • ​Hop schedules that show you different techniques for getting big hop flavor (along with my recommendations)
  • An Offbeat Ingredient Usage Guide. Ever wonder how much fruit to use? How much spices? The right amount of coffee for your coffee stout? This guide will save you hours of Googling.

As you can guess, an enormous amount of time and research went into creating these resources.

I poured over my own personal brewing notes going back years. I analyzed recipes from the very best homebrewers. I looked for patterns. And I turned that painstaking research into these quick reference guides to make it easy for you to use when designing your own recipes.

So you won't find anything like this in books or on the internet or anywhere else. Only in CIYO.

And frankly, when you consider how much time these resources will save you, they're worth the enrollment fee all on their own. But they're just another benefit of joining CIYO.

Is Call It Your Own Right for You?

Who is Call It Your Own Right For?

  • You enjoy the creative aspect of brewing and want to explore what's possible with beer
  • You're always learning and trying to make better and better beer
  • You want become more adventuresome in your brewing
  • You want to nail down your brewing process

Who is Call It Your Own Not right for?

  • You brew for volume and don't care who's recipe it is
  • You only care if the beer is "drinkable"
  • You refuse to use brewing software or keep good notes
  • You "wing it" on every batch and don't see that changing

Take It For a 60 Day Test Drive

I stand behind all of my courses 100%. If you follow the lessons and don't see improvement, it's only fair that you get a full refund. So try Call It Your Own out for 60 days. Take it for a test drive. I'm confident you'll have a big breakthrough in your brewing.

And if you don't? Simply email me for a refund. No questions asked, and we'll remain beer buddies. Promise.

Join Today and Get This Bonus

Private Facebook Group for Brewers

You're bound to have questions when you're developing your recipes. The cool thing is, we have a private Facebook group with hundreds of other Academy brewers. And they'll be happy to help you out.

Use the group to get opinions on hop varieties, to bounce recipe ideas off people, and of course... to show off your creations!

Ready to stop brewing someone else's masterpiece, and instead, create your own?

It's time to step into the driver's seat and take control of your brewing. No longer will you be at the mercy of someone else's recipe. Someone else's ideas. Someone else's tastes!

You're a homebrewer, which means you enjoy creating.  Now it's time to take the final step and complete your journey. Don't just create your own beer. Create your own recipes.

Get Started On Your New Recipe Idea
in Just 5 Minutes from Now

The investment for CIYO is just $97. If you consider the time savings alone, you'll see what a smart investment this is.

Imagine if CIYO helps you nail a new IPA recipe in two batches instead of three batches? Or even one batch instead of two batches?

How much time would have gone into that additional batch, from getting your ingredients all the way through kegging? 8 hours maybe? And that's being conservative.

But CIYO won't buy you back just one brew day. My experience shows that it will save you at least one attempt for every new recipe you design. Over your entire brewing career, that's dozens if not hundreds of hours saved. It's tough to put a price tag on that.

And the time savings are in addition to all of the other wonderful benefits of this course: the better tasting homebrews, the creative new recipes you'll design, the fun you'll have experimenting with exotic ingredients, etc.

Are you ready to create a recipe you can truly call your own? Because it's just two clicks away. Click the button below to start the next phase of your hobby.

How To Get Started Today

If you're ready to get started with "Call It Your Own" Simply Click The Button Below And Be Taken To Our Secure Checkout.

Questions? Email them to

Marc Stevens ( Web Design Media )

"I jumped at the opportunity... "

I have taken Billy's other online homebrewing courses and learned a great deal from each of them. When he offered a course entirely on recipe creation, I jumped at the opportunity. I was not disappointed.

- Bruce E.


Is CIYO too advanced for me?

How long do I have access to the course?

What happens after I join CIYO?

Do I need to attend live?

Does CIYO cover malt extract brewing?

What if I don't see improvements in my brewing?

How is this better than reading a homebrewing book?

Can't I learn this for free online?

How long it the course?

Still have questions?

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