About This Course

This course includes 90+ minutes of video

In this thorough and detailed 94-minute video course, Crooks lays out the brewery’s total approach to these beers, from recipe development to packaging, via brewing, barrel selection, aging, and blending. Among other topics, Crooks explains: 

  • mash regimen and grists built for aging with mixed cultures
  • selecting the right strains of bacteria and yeast
  • using Brettanomyces for primary fermentation
  • using hops to control lactic acid production
  • managing and balancing acetic and lactic acid
  • choosing and caring for barrels
  • blending for flavor and balance

And much more.


Jim Crooks' long career at Firestone Walker began in the laboratory, helping to ensure that products were clean and free of bugs. Now, his deep knowledge of how those wild yeast and bacteria behave is critical to producing heralded beers such as Feral One and countless other award-winning beers. Prior to Firestone Walker, Crooks attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and received a Bachelor's of Science, Food Science degree.

Jim Crooks

Master Blender, Firestone Walker Barrelworks

Course Curriculum

  • 01


    Show Content
    • Welcome + Background on Firestone Walker Barrelworks

  • 02

    Recipe Development of Beers Meant for Mixed Cultures & Wood

    Show Content
    • Planning & Tinkering with Variables

    • Homebrewing Sour Beers 101: The Art of Tart, Simplified

    • Pro Tips: Finding Success with Sours

  • 03

    Elements of a Wood-Aged Sour Beer

    Show Content
    • Mash and Grist Built for Aging with Mixed Cultures

    • Selecting Yeast and Bacteria for Mixed Cultures and Balance

    • More Perspectives: Managing Mixed Culture Fermentations

    • More Perspectives: Floodland’s Adam Paysse on Rearing Mixed Cultures

    • Hops and Suppressing Acidity

    • Managing Acidity: Balancing Acetic and Lactic

    • Quantify Your Funk: A Primer on pH and Titratable Acidity

    • Understanding pH and Titratable Acidity in Sour Beer: Tools for Brewers and Enthusiasts Alike

  • 04

    Aging & Blending

    Show Content
    • Vessels: Selection, Cleaning, and Long Maturation

    • Prepping Used Barrels for Aging Beer

    • A Barrel Master on Knowing the Ways of the Wine Barrel

    • Blending Approach & Technique

    • Winemaking Tools for Wild-Ale Wizardry

    • Fruiting Approach & Technique

    • Style + Fruit: Let’s Play Matchmaker

    • Packaging & Bottle Conditioning

  • 05

    Wrap Up

    Show Content
    • Thank You

    • More Perspectives: Trevor Rogers of De Garde on Patience and Sense of Place

    • Sensory: Randy Mosher on the Elements of Funk

    • Recipe: Schneeeule Marlene Berliner Weisse

    • Recipe: Turbid Lambic-Like Base Beer

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