About This Course

This course includes 48+ minutes of video

Jake Gardner is a process geek. The director of brewing operations at Colorado’s Westbound & Down—with breweries in Idaho Springs and Lafayette and a taproom in downtown Denver—is happy to let others write the recipes while he figures out how to dial in the process and make those beers better. That attention to both flavor and detail has paid off—most recently with successive silver medals for their Spirit of the West IPA, first at the 2022 Great American Beer Festival and again at the 2023 World Beer Cup. 

In this 46-minute video course, Gardner exposes those pressure points that can make a “lean and mean” West Coast–style IPA taste better, for longer. Among other topics, he covers: 

  • the importance of pH to stability and drinkability
  • why you should watch your free amino nitrogen (FAN) content
  • the effects of Maillard reactions and Strecker degradation
  • planning a “lean and mean” grist for stability and foam
  • hot-side and cold-side hop choices
  • cohumulone, survivability, and why harvest time matters
  • avoiding over-aeration
  • the importance of vigorous fermentation
  • selecting a yeast strain for longevity
  • carefully testing and dialing in tank finings

And much more.


For Jake Gardner, director of brewing operations of Westbound & Down, brewing means defining goals for a beer and mapping out the way to achieve those goals—naming the challenges and articulating solutions at each step of the process. Proceeding in a thoroughly planned and detailed manner brings clarity to the process, and this methodical approach has served Gardner well over his past decade in professional brewing.

Jake Gardner

Head Brewer

Course Curriculum

  • 01


    Show Content
    • Course Intro with Jake Gardner

  • 02

    Factors in Stability

    Show Content
    • Solving the Stability Problem

    • Watch Your Acidity: How pH Levels Affect Stability and Drinkability

    • What Is Free Amino Nitrogen (FAN)?

    • Why You Should Avoid Excess Free Amino Nitrogen

    • Maillard Reactions and Strecker Degradation

    • Managing Dissolved Oxygen Levels

  • 03

    Planning and Brewing

    Show Content
    • The Lean & Mean Grist

    • What Is Cohumulone?

    • Hops, Hop Products, the Dry-Hop Process, and Selection

    • Bitterness, IBUs, and Hop Saturation

    • Water Adjustment

  • 04

    Fermentation and Aging

    Show Content
    • Aeration (and Over-Aeration)

    • Yeast and Fermentation

    • Six Tips to Improve Your Fermentations

    • How to Walk the Biofine Line

    • Measuring DO and Best Practices

  • 05

    Conclusion, Recipes & Further Reading/Listening

    Show Content
    • Summing It Up

    • Listen Up! Podcast Episode 154: Jake Gardner of Westbound & Down Tackles Complex Brewing Challenges

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