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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
Other people's recipes you come across can throw you off for three reasons.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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?"
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?
Here's just some of what you'll learn...
Once you've got the recipe basics down, we'll move on to the step-by-step process for
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 Worksheet: Define Your Vision
Module 2 Worksheet: Aim for the Bullseye
Module 3 Worksheet: Plan Your Brew and Brew Your Plan
Module 4 Worksheet: The Feedback Loop
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.
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.
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.
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.
The investment for CIYO is just $99. 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.
Option 1: One-time payment of $99
Option 2: Four automatic monthly payments of $25 (Pay just $25 today)
Questions? Email them to email@example.com
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.
Let me be clear about this: If you're a newer brewer or are still trying to brew good tasting beer from a kit, you should not jump right into designing recipes from scratch. It's better to ease into it.
But CIYO is not only for people who want to design recipes from scratch. It's also for less experienced brewers who want to learn how to adapt recipes from the internet, hit their numbers, and make low-risk tweaks to recipes.
We have an entire section of CIYO packed with lessons which teach these foundational skills. Then, when you're comfortable, you can move seamlessly into creating your own recipes.
So the short answer is: If you think you might want your own recipes one day, you should join. Even if you're a new brewer.
Forever! You never lose access to the course. You have lifetime access.
Go through the course at your own pace. Fall behind? Go on vacation? Life get in the way? No problem. The lessons will be there waiting for you when you return.
There is no pressure at all to rush through the course.
Within a couple minutes of completing your payment, you will get an email from me with your login information to our private members area.
After you login, you'll see CIYO right there on your dashboard. Click the logo and you'll see your lessons. You'll also see the link to join our private Facebook group for Homebrew Academy brewers (it has hundreds of members).
I will also provide email coaching so you know exactly what to do next and never feel lost.
No, you don't need to attend anything live. You'll go through the course at your own pace on your own schedule.
The recipe creation lessons assume all-grain brewing. That's not to say you couldn't use them for malt extract. In that case, you would simply design your recipe for all-grain, and then at the very end, convert it into extract (we have lessons that show you how to convert all-grain to extract).
This is actually the ideal way to learn. When you understand how to combine flavors using the raw grains, you'll hit the ground running should you ever decide to upgrade to all-grain.
I've designed CIYO to make it almost impossible to fail. Even if you screw up a recipe, and that does happen, you won't see it as a failure. You'll see it as a valuable learning experience. I show exactly how to diagnose what went wrong and how to improve for next time.
But if you put the lessons to use and really do not see results, you have 60 days to ask for a complete refund of what you pay today. No questions asked. No hassle. No delay.
I love homebrewing books. I own at least two dozen of them. But despite reading every page of those books, there was something missing.
Books simply cannot match the effectiveness of a course. That's why we send our children to school instead of just buying them textbooks. There are many benefits to learning recipe design through an online course:
- The content can be updated much faster
- Lessons can be taught in video, audio, and text
- There is a community to bounce ideas off of
- There is a teacher to tell you what to focus on for your unique situation
Books are great supplements to courses. And I'll recommend some of my favorites. But if you want to get the fastest gains, a course is the way to go.
If you can find another course that gives you detailed, step-by-step instructions for building great beer recipes, please let me know. Because I looked. Hard.
This was all I could find:
1) Random tips
Homebrewing tips are everywhere. But if we are surrounded by so many tips, why do we still struggle to create recipes? It's because we don't need more tips. We need a system to follow. The system is the missing link. Once we have a solid process in place for working with recipes, we can really put the tips into action.
Thing is, it's much easier to write a blog post called "7 Secrets to Brewing a Great Belgian Beer" than it is to teach the process of recipe creation.
That's why CIYO is truly one of a kind.
2) Extremely high level guidance.
Sorry, but a 500 word blog post simply isn't enough to teach recipe creation.
When they write, "Next, choose your malts." I would scream, "But how!"
When they say, "Now decide on the malt percentage," I would yell, "How the heck do I do that?"
CIYO goes deeper into recipe creation than any book or internet article out there. You'll know how to choose your grain bill, your hop schedule, your mash techniques -- everything.
3) Critiques from other brewers
Sure, you could post every single recipe you make onto HomebrewTalk or Reddit and ask for feedback. But wouldn't you rather be able to answer your own questions? And besides, how do you know you're getting good advice? I can tell you for a fact that I've gotten very bad recipe advice online (just ask my Amber ale). I learned that the only opinion I could really trust was my own.
In CIYO, I'll teach you how to become your own best source for feedback.
First, know that you have lifetime access to the course. You can come back to the lessons at any time. In fact, the course is structured so that you can go through it every time you brew a new batch.
There are four core modules which walk you through the recipe creation process. There is also a large Foundation module in case you aren't quite ready to create your own recipe (there is still a ton of fun to be had in the Foundation module).
One module will be released each week, so the course lasts five weeks. But again, you are under no obligation to go through the lessons on schedule. If you want to wait a couple months and then fire up the lessons, that's totally fine. They aren't going anywhere.
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will answer your questions asap.
It will likely be a few months before we open the doors again. But I'm known to increase the price on my courses we I reopen them because I've added so many more lessons, which makes the course more valuable.
So by joining now, you lock in the lowest price and get access to all future updates (there will be a ton). And remember, you never lose access to the course. If you're even considering joining, right now is the best time.