New to Homebrewing

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by PMB01, May 15, 2018.


What is the best homebrewing set-up?

Poll closed May 29, 2018.
  1. DIY-kit

    10 vote(s)
  2. Automated machine (all-in-one) (complete process in one machine)

    0 vote(s)
  1. PMB01

    PMB01 Initiate (0) May 15, 2018

    Hi Brewers!

    I'm quite new to homebrewing and wanted to started a conversation about how you guys started homebrewing! What made you start brewing your own beer?

    In addition, I started brewing recently and of course the mess afterwards, and the smell that comes from the process, are part of the experience. However, these aspects do kind of frustrate me from time to time. That being said, I'm really curious if you guys experience frustration when brewing, if yes, what frustrations do you experience when brewing and what do you do to solve these frustrations?

    Cheers! :beers:
  2. OldBrewer

    OldBrewer Aspirant (248) Jan 13, 2016 Ontario (Canada)

    I started homebrewing in 1990 a couple of years after I tried the beer a neighbour had made. I had always heard that homebrews were quite bad, but his turned out quite reasonable for the time. I had also been making my own wine for about 15 years at the time, so I thought it would be great to add beer to my hobbies. It would also save money. The beer kits at the time (Muntona) were OK, but my beers never turned out too good until I finally switched to all-grain. I have seen a HUGE increase in the quality of homebrew since I first started.

    As for 'frustrations', I actually enjoy them, and view them instead as exciting challenges. When something doesn't go right, I analyze what the problem might have been, I read up on it, ask questions from other experienced homebrewers (that's the this great forum is for) etc. It's exciting to find solutions and new improvements. Thus I view 'frustrations' as an exciting part of this hobby, and as opportunities to learn more about the brewing process.
    Lexicon and riptorn like this.
  3. bryantc3

    bryantc3 Initiate (150) Apr 12, 2017 New Jersey

    I like to think of an Andy Dwyer quote from Parks and Recs where he misquotes "the show most go on" as "There's an old saying in show business: The show must go wrong. Everything always goes wrong, and you just have to deal with it."

    All my brew days always has something that goes wrong. Fortunately they're usually super minor with no lasting impact on the beer. 2 brews ago was poor space management of my steamer basket in my BIAB that compacted my grain WAY to much which caused me to miss my gravity by like 15 points or so - but the beer came out well enough and I ended up with an IPA instead of a DIPA. I upgrade to a larger basket for my brew this past weekend and i nailed my number -- but a stainless steel (shower curtain) hook that I use to steady my recirculation tube to my heat stick fell into my mash, oh well. I don't think I have had a "successful" brew grain to glass without something going wrong. 3 brews back it almost went fully right, until I was closed pressure filling a keg. Progress had halted, but didn't think the keg was filled (it wasn't) so I pumped co2 into the keg as i opened the lid to see where the fill was at -- the rubber o-rid for the keg lid fell into the keg, sigh.

    all these little things that go wrong used to frustrate me, but now I just see them as cautionary tales, things to adjust or look out for on future brews.

    Though the one thing that I absolutely hate about homebrewing is cleaning yeast out of the fermenter. it skeeves me out.
    Lexicon and NeroFiddled like this.
  4. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (98) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina

    If the kit your poll refers to is one of the many one gallon kits, I'd have to vote for non of the above for someone new to brewing.
    I was gifted a one gallon kit with grains, yeast, jug and various other stuff. It was my first exposure to homebrewing and it was a disaster. It might have been okay with decent instructions, but the lack thereof made it inordinately frustrating and, for a time, turned me against future attempts; almost a juice ain't worth the squeeze type thing.
    Maybe instructions and ingredients have improved over the no be know.

    The mess is just part of it. Realizing that, and realizing I wanted to brew again, fostered a desire to develop my own process that would make cleanup flow more smoothly; not necessarily more quickly, but that's often a byproduct of organization.

    The smell (aroma) is one of my favorite parts. Being able to smell the raw products then the wort and eventually learning how the end result will taste before it arrives is something I look forward to. I liken it to a photographer picking a subject, making certain settings and knowing what the pic will look like before the shutter falls.

    Overcoming frustrations during the process:
    Write down a plan of action for all activities (pre-brew day, brew day, kegging, bottling, what have you) . Do this when you're sober.
    Follow your written plan and check-off the items as completed, until it becomes rote. Do this when you're sober.
    Be aware that Murphy is ubiquitous over your shoulder. When something stymies you....step back, take a breath, research and be flexible.
    Establish a rapport with your LHBS, if available, or find a friend/club that you're comfortable with. Having access to this forum is a genuine plus. I've been here just a short time and have received some really good feedback and found very insightful info via searching.
    Be patient; that's one of my challenges. I sometimes overcome it by ignoring the "Do this when you're sober" suggestion.
    Mothergoose03 and NeroFiddled like this.
  5. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (10,359) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    Just my two-cents, DIY is what it's all about. That's part of the fun of it. If it's just about the final product go ahead and buy one of those PICO brews. But what's the point in that even? It's home-brew that you didn't really even make yourself. For the money you'd be better off just buying quality beers.

    I fell into brewing by accident. I wanted to learn how beer was made, commercial beer, not homebrew (this was in the late 80's). I came across a book and bought it on a whim and when I started reading it I learned it was a homebrew book. That happened twice. I read them but was still looking for something more about commercial brewing not realizing that it's really exactly the same thing. Then my wife brought home some clean 5 gal. plastic buckets and I thought I might as well try homebrewing. I was so interesting in beers of the world in general that one extract batch was all it took to get me hooked. I did 39 more, paid my way to Siebel, quit my job, and became a professional. My first all-grain batch was as a professional.

    Nothing frustrated me about brewing even when I switched to all-grain because I knew that "it is what it is"; and I always loved the smell! I haven't homebrewed by myself in a long time because it's such a hassle dragging everything out of the basement but I have brewed with others. However, I might have to do some soon as experiments for brews that I want to do professionally.
  6. Mothergoose03

    Mothergoose03 Poo-Bah (2,261) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    I chose 'DIY kit' above, but be aware that those kits frequently leave out items that are important. Mostly it seems like a hydrometer is omitted. So a DIY kit is not perfect, but to me is better than a self-contained brewing machine.

    I got into the hobby when my daughter and her husband gave me equipment for my birthday. He was an experienced homebrewer, so he knew what items were needed to brew 5-gallon batches. They also gave me a recipe 'kit' which was the only one that I ever used (and I didn't like the results). I quickly decided to find recipes and get the ingredients that fit that recipe.

    Frustrations were minor while brewing because I did a lot of homework ahead of time and constructed a detailed timeline to follow on brew day. Being organized is paramount to a stress-free brewing day. I think the only surprise that I experienced on that first brewing session was a boil-over. Be aware, it happens much more quickly that what warnings you read in brewing books!
    Lexicon, GreenKrusty101 and riptorn like this.
  7. Prep8611

    Prep8611 Aspirant (250) Aug 22, 2014 New Jersey

    I have a DIY system but for people using picobrews I don’t look down on it. Maybe they have physical limitations that prevent them from doing a DIY approach. Just trying not to judge, that’s all.
    GreenKrusty101 and riptorn like this.
  8. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (730) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    A malapropism, but I can relate :grin:
    Yogi Berra and Archie Bunker...gotta love 'em
  9. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (730) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    I noticed you voted for DIY...but trying not to judge :slight_smile:
  10. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (98) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina

    MUCH more quickly.
    FWIW, I started in earnest with DIY in bucket mode.

    Perhaps most importantly; immediately before and during a brew session, NEVER gaze too long at Mothergoose's avatar. It'll get you off-center and something quirky is bound to happen :open_mouth:
    #10 riptorn, May 15, 2018
    Last edited: May 15, 2018
    Mothergoose03 likes this.
  11. LuskusDelph

    LuskusDelph Aspirant (246) May 1, 2008 New Jersey

    Like others here, I voted for the DIY option.
    When I started brewing at home (back in the stone age that was 1971), that consisted of Blue Ribbon Malt Syrup, dry bakers yeast, and the very good good advice of a Biology major friend to skip the sugar called for in the "recipe" and instead, use 2 cans of the malt syrup). By some miracle, I wound up with 5 gallons of very drinkable brew (which my college friends and I made very short work of).
    Around that same time, my very favorite commercial beer (Ballantine India Pale Ale) ceased to be made (the Newark NJ brewery shut down, and it's successors failed to keep the brand going) and I felt the need to try to brew a replacement, since there was, at the time, no other commercial brew that even came close to it.
    I personally think that brewing from scratch on a homemade system (not that there were any real options to that in 1971) gave me a better 'feel' for the various processes involved...which brewing on an automated system would certainly fall short on.
    (I'm actually still brewing on essentially the same system I built in 1980, which cost less than $150 to put together. )

    Cheers (and happy brewing).
    Lexicon likes this.
  12. Prep8611

    Prep8611 Aspirant (250) Aug 22, 2014 New Jersey

    I did and I have a diy system. That said nerofiddled kinda made it seem like it wasn’t real brewing. That’s why I said what I did. If someone who can’t lift the pots or is in a wheelchair wants to brew than a picobrew would be a good option.
  13. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (730) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    Elton John, right? :slight_smile:
    Mothergoose03 likes this.
  14. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (730) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    Boil -overs suck... but vigorous boils are brew buddy spends lots of $ on camel cum...aka " Fermcap" ...I've got better shit to spend my $ on :slight_smile: ...if you are inattentive when boiling, it might be worth it :grin:...cheers
    Mothergoose03 likes this.
  15. NorCalKid

    NorCalKid Initiate (99) Jan 10, 2018 California

    Bunch of OG’s giving a huge amount of wisdom here bro. Read it all. As a born again home brewer. I enjoy the process. Frustration is natural even if you’ve been in this hobby the first day or many or professionally(so I’ve been told).