There are a good number of well known institutions who offer brewing education here in America. After doing some research I found that the wait list was unacceptably long for my timeline and I wasn't able to find someone who had taken those courses. Withouttalking to someone withfirst-hand experience I continued searching. I found Brewlab and someone I knew who had taken the course and loved it. So I signed right up!
The things I found most beneficial were learning how to do the lab work, such as yeast management. Making the different kinds of agar, learning how to do cell counts, things like that. Looking for points of infections was pretty important as well. I'm constantly writing and rewriting procedures based on evidence of product quality increases and being able to track an infection to a particular procedure is invaluable. Also, being given a recipe that I had to brew to spec. was great experience. It was a confidence builder so when I came up with my own recipes I knew more about how my math would translate to flavour in the final product. The smallest amount of beer I can make is 12 barrels (372 U.S. gallons) so a costly amount of ingredients will go into each batch. Being given the tools to execute a one-off recipe for the first time and having the confidence it'll come out at least drinkable is critical to the success of this small startup brewery I find myself running.
I found the practical side to be great. Getting an idea what kinds of labour and gear were involved with the actual process helps me create more realistic solutions to problems that will pop up unexpectedly. For example, if a piece of equipment fails but I'm familiar with all of the gear in a brewery and how it works I can be more successful at finding a work around. This can be applied to every aspect of brewing because at some point you will have had to deal with problems at every single place in the brewery.
This was my first time in England and I enjoyed all of it. The course brought about new things everyday and I found it to be constantly intellectually stimulating.
Today I am the head brewer of Ornery Beer Company in Woodbridge Virginia. I currently hold the proud title of best Kolsch brewer in America after winning gold at the Great American Beer Festival for German style kolsch.