I’ve been putting this off for some time.  And it’s silly.  

I got to do something super cool and I didn’t think that I could accurately portray just how amazing an experience this was.  Instead, it sat at the end of my to-do list for weeks, not wanting to disappoint, so just not starting, but finally, here it goes.  

My day (officially) started at 9am.  I rolled up to the Rock Bottom parking lot in La Jolla, grabbed my camera and headed in to find Carli Smith already measuring out the amount of barley she would need for today’s brew – Surfer Solitude Red Ale.  For the next six hours, I followed Carli around to experience a day in the life of a Brewmaster.  

I wanted to be an Olympian and a limo driver and all sorts of strange things when I was a kid.  If I knew that brewmaster was an option that would have topped the list.  It’s such a delicate combination of so many things: chemist, chef, beer lover, researcher, taste-tester, heavy lifter (ha) and the list goes on and on.  Carli creates all of her own recipes.  She plays with different ratios and ingredients to determine the best taste and color and smell for her clientele.

A day with Rock Bottom's Head Brewer, Carli Smith || DayDreamin'Engineer

But back to my day-in-the-life recap.  Carli measured out the malted barley she needed first thing in the morning.  She loaded three trash cans of barley to begin the milling process so that all the barley could get cracked and crushed and ready to release its flavors.  She then ran upstairs and added in different varieties of barely from her recipe card. Down the shoot to be milled.  

A day with Rock Bottom's Head Brewer, Carli Smith || DayDreamin'Engineer

The cracking of the husks of barely turned the mixture into grist. 

The grist is then thrown into a big ole vat, water is added (making the new substance mash) and it sits for about 30 minutes.

A day with Rock Bottom's Head Brewer, Carli Smith || DayDreamin'Engineer

After 30 minutes the liquid is removed (now called wort) and transferred to another vat, where it’s boiled down to let the flavors concentratethis is when all the varieties of hops are added.  

A day with Rock Bottom's Head Brewer, Carli Smith || DayDreamin'Engineer

From grist to mash to wort, Carli is constantly pulling samples to test the pH, the sugar content, and other important elements.  It’s her quality assurance, if you will.  

A day with Rock Bottom's Head Brewer, Carli Smith || DayDreamin'Engineer

The boiled wort is transferred over to holding vats where yeast is added and the fermenting beer sits for about 3 weeks before that ice cold deliciousness hits your glass. 

A day with Rock Bottom's Head Brewer, Carli Smith || DayDreamin'Engineer

Obviously, this is just my very inexperienced and simplified explanation but holy smokes is it an impressive process to be apart of.  Carli made two batches of this red ale.  In between brewing processes she checked on other brews that are ready for serving, including an Oatmeal Stout aged 12 months in a Jim Beam Bourbon barrel served on nitro – holy yum. 

A day with Rock Bottom's Head Brewer, Carli Smith || DayDreamin'Engineer

She interacted with customers and talked about her brews.  She cleaned her brew room, she checked numbers, she consulted with her assistant (hi, where can i get an assistant) about what brews were running low and what would need to be made in the coming weeks.  

She bad-assed.  That’s a word right?

A day with Rock Bottom's Head Brewer, Carli Smith || DayDreamin'Engineer

I was more and more amazed by the minute, but then I tasted that red ale and my taste buds exploded.  I am by no means a beer expert and if I’m being real honest I’m a happy camper with a cold coors light in hand. 

A day with Rock Bottom's Head Brewer, Carli Smith || DayDreamin'Engineer

But there’s something amazing about smelling all the raw ingredients – the barley, the hops, tasting the wort, seeing how much time, energy and passion is put into creating a glass of this amazing beer and then getting to taste it.  I got to experience a tiny small portion of the satisfaction Carli must get each time she gets to taste a new recipe.  Words cannot describe (hence my procrastination on this). 

A day with Rock Bottom's Head Brewer, Carli Smith || DayDreamin'Engineer

The process is fascinating and I’m sure to truly grasp everything I would need to see the process about a thousand more times.  However, the process isn’t what I was most excited about (although I do nerd out when science is used in our day to day lives).  

A day with Rock Bottom's Head Brewer, Carli Smith || DayDreamin'Engineer

Carli started her brewmaster career as a hostess.  She worked through college and once she graduated with a degree in finance she expressed an interest in brewing.  She worked her booty off, moving from hostess to server to assistant brewer to head-freaking brewer!  Her passion is overwhelming and I feel blessed to have experienced a day in her life.

A day with Rock Bottom's Head Brewer, Carli Smith || DayDreamin'Engineer

There’s another part of this that’s incredibly inspiring.  Carli is one of four female head brewers in San Diego and she’s only 25.  I love it.  There aren’t many women in the oil industry either, so when I hear of women breaking into previously male-dominated industries and kicking ass doing so I just get pumped. 

A day with Rock Bottom's Head Brewer, Carli Smith || DayDreamin'Engineer

If you have a women (or dude, I know there are some good ones out there) that inspire you everyday send me a message! Maybe I can experience another day-in-the-life. 

I look forward to hearing from you guys!

A day with Rock Bottom's Head Brewer, Carli Smith || DayDreamin'Engineer