What's your story, home brewers?

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by InVinoVeritas, Aug 12, 2018.

  1. InVinoVeritas

    InVinoVeritas Devotee (415) Apr 16, 2012 Wisconsin

    So for some reason, I couldn't for the life of me remember what year I started brewing. My first equipment was purchased via Craigslist, so fortunately I could look up the date within email, which was 3/18/2013.

    My back story is two fold.

    Part one, I fell in love with craft trying Belhaven Wee Heavy at a now closed craft bar. At the time, 2001, The Brickskeller Washington DC, had about 1,000 different beers. I asked the bar where I could get Belhaven, Chevy Chase Liquor was their response. From there I started trying all sorts of new beers and keeping track of the one's I like, scoring 1 to 5 via Excel - engineer here.

    Part two, before I started home brewing, I was trading beers. My wife hated the wasted money of shipment. So I made the beer trade of a lifetime and trading stoping trades for blessing to start brewing.

    So what's your story? Why, how, or when, did you start home brewing?
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  2. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,755) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    In 1985, a college friend returned from a semester in the UK. He brought a stash of bottles with him back to campus: Guinness, Newcastle, Whitbread, and Sam Smith (Pale Ale, Oatmeal Stout, Taddy Porter). Piqued my interest, as I only knew macrolagers. I have loved English beers ever since.

    Christmas 1986, my brother gave me an English ale homebrew kit. I believe it was a Coopers English Pale Ale, can and kilo kit. I didn't brew it right away. When I did, (summer of 87 or 88?) I made lousy beer. Old ingredients, no knowledge of sanitation. I'd brew about 1 extract batch a year for 2-3 more years and tried to convince myself it was good. It wasn't.

    In 1992 I took I grad course in microbial ecology. In one of the labs, we used fermentation of ales and lagers to study microbial systems. Yeast population growth and metabolism, and competition with bacteria. We made extract beers, still using cans of hopped extract. We took the beer on a weekend field trip, and to my surprise, it was good. One of my friends convinced me to show him how to brew, so in the spring of 1993, I made a batch of pale ale with another canned kit. It was subpar.

    I got married and started a PhD program and didn't brew again until 2005, and it was a direct consequence of finding this forum. I found BA because I started drinking a bottle of imported beer every night I traveled for my post-doc research. Chimay white was my first exposure to Belgian beer and I didn't know what to make of it. Googled for info on it and found Beeradvocate, lurked and found the homebrew forum, where people claimed to routinely be making beer as good as the pros. Made two miserable batches and was prepared to quit, but went all-grain instead, with temp control and aeration, and started to like what I was making. The key to success really was the knowledge and encouragement I found in this forum (and the book Homebrewing for Dummies -- surprisingly good introduction). Soon after I was listening to podcasts and reading most homebrew books I could find cover to cover, and working my way towards 10-15 batches a year.
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  3. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,344) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Was already interesting in beer while working in a few different bookstore in the early 1970s, where single copies of books like Making Wine Beer & Merry, Brew it Yourself (Beadle) and US reprints of UK's Home Brewing Without Failures (Bravery) and other UK based books* were often stocked on bottom shelf of the "Food" section, along with the wine books. Soon, between employee discounts and used books stores, I had a little library going..

    (* See my post about the problem with UK book terminology for US homebrewers...)

    My favorite was a thin little 95¢ Dolphin Doubleday paperback entitled An Essay on Brewing, Vintage and Distillation Together with Selected Remedies for Hangover Melancholia OR How To Make Booze by John F. Adams. Maybe not the best brewing guide but an entertaining read.

    So, I knew, even in those pre-legal days it was possible and relatively easy to find equipment and the ingredients to make your own beer. (Heck, the Two Guys grocery section still sold Blue Ribbon Hop-Flavored Malt Syrup).

    1976 and I was living in Los Angeles and had a job driving for a distributor (tools, not beer :slight_frown:) and often stopped at antique and rummage shops looking for breweriana, liquor stores for beer, etc., that I passed making deliveries all over the greater LA metro area and one day came upon a homebrew supply shop (probably also sp;d wine-making equipment, common back then) somewhere down around El Segundo. "Hmmm... so you can buy all this stuff at a "one stop" shop..."

    Was back in NJ by Fall of '76, found the Wine Hobby store outside Princeton, bought the necessary equipment and ingredients and brewed my first batch using their recipe sheet, with bottling help a weeks later from my oldest friend and beer-drinkin' buddy (RIP).
  4. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (95) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina

    For those who are prone to TLDR, see synopsis in the last line

    For decades i was open to trying different beers, but price point was usually the determining factor until the early 2000's (Busch was my go-to). When the orangey-wits (Blue Moon, Shocktop, etc.) gained popularity, I thought I was hip in my circle of friends. My buddies, who were mostly in to Coors Light and similar, “just didn’t get it, and I did” :rolling_eyes:
    Still relatively uninitiated I was given a homebrew at a poker game and the guy said, “It’s an IPA”. I thought to myself, “hmmm....thought he was giving me a beer.”

    About six years ago a friend said, “Try this” and gave me a freshly poured glass of Dogfish Head 90 minute IPA. I was blown away by the floral aroma. That’s when it dawned on me that starkly different beers were in fact beer, and not just carbed yellow drinks with misc weird stuff added for what I wrote off as being nothing more than marketing ploys.
    It wasn’t so much because I liked the 90 minute (which I did), but more because it fostered an increasing interest in what I’d previously considered as odd-ball brews. Then I started noticing craft beer on the shelves, which fed my interest. Craft already had a presence but I hadn't noticed; kind of like getting red Ford Mustang and then realizing how many of them there are on the road.

    Shortly after the Dogfish revelation, someone close to me noticed my interest and gifted me a one-gallon kit. That kit sat around for at least 6 months to a year and turned out to be an epic fail, which I attributed to angst that I’d flub it, the instructions were frustratingly lacking for a first-timer, and (more recently determined) how long I let the kit sit before using it. The fact that I was responsible for messing it up, coupled with seeing so many folks say homebrew is (can be) as good or better than commercial brews, stuck in my craw.
    With help from a LHBS I picked up ingredients and equipment for a partial mash extract beer. That also sat around too long; long enough that the grain became infested with bugs. Went to another LHBS and asked for a simple recipe with minimal ingredients; he supplied an all extract Hefe.
    That one finished better than I either thought or hoped it would, and provided the oomph to begin skimming books and the net for tips on making better beer.

    Batches have increased from 1 per year to 3 per year to about 1 per quarter. I commute ~650 miles round-trip weekly, which makes logistics for brewing/packaging a challenge. Until retirement my cap will probably be 6-8 batches per year. That’s okay....it’ll provide enough to drink and enough and give away, and not so much that I won’t augment with commercial to see what’s shakin’ in the industry.

    Enter Beer Advocate; it's where I landed more frequently than other places when looking for tips about issues I might have.
    There’s a slew of unsung brew heroes in this forum. I’ve gleaned an amazing amount of info here from folks who might never know the ways in which they’ve made a positive impact on my process.

    One of the biggest rewards for me is pouring a homebrew for someone and after they taste it hear, “You made this? This is really good.”

    Looking forward to my first AG batch in the next few weeks!

    In a nutshell:
    Like beer – like more/different beer – make beer – make more/better/different beer – share the wealth
    #5 riptorn, Aug 12, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2018
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  5. Brewday

    Brewday Initiate (118) Dec 25, 2015 New York

    I hated Sam Adams until i had their Oktoberfest from a keg. Went home and googled "How to make Beer". Northern Brewer came up first so i ordered a starter kit. They didn't have a Oktoberfest so i started with a Blonde Ale. No one in my family drinks so we think i got the bug from my great grandfather who made wine.
  6. Prep8611

    Prep8611 Aspirant (250) Aug 22, 2014 New Jersey

    My meth business got shutdown so I needed something else to make with all this equipment .

    I started cause a friend brewed twice a year and I was interested after getting into craft. He got more into it but I Brew about twice a month now and he’s like every other month. I started all grain and it was a rough learning curve and am still learning a lot after 4 years.
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  7. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (95) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina

    Literally cracked me up!.....sounds like LEO humor.
  8. skleice

    skleice Aspirant (247) Aug 6, 2015 Connecticut

    I was a big fan of craft brew for ~20 years (Damn, I sound old). I used to make pilgrimages to Hill Farmstead, Alchemist, Tree House, Trillium, Allagash, etc. Loved beers of almost any style and had no interest in brewing. Then it happened.....a little over a year ago I was diagnosed with Celiac's Disease (Nooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). The first thing I thought of was giving up beer. It killed me. I tried wine, cider, meads, hard liquor, etc. None were really working for me. The gluten free beer on the shelves is absolute dog shit (and most of it isn't truly gluten free). I thought it was over.

    After some research I found there were some gluten free breweries out there that were producing decent to good beer. Most of them didn't excite me much, but some gave me hope (Ghostfish is legit!). I also found the gluten free forum on HomeBrewTalk and learned that it is possible to brew GOOD or even GREAT gluten free beer. Big thanks to those guys!

    I started with 1 gallon extract batches just to see if I liked the process...which i did. However, the beers were not great. Sorghum syrup is pretty gross and has a real metallic, sour taste. I then did a couple of partial mash brews using GF grains from the supermarket. There was a noted improvement overall. Then around 9 months ago I went all grain on my stove top using malted gluten free grains purchased online. It finally tasted like beer! I made some pretty good IPA's to start and a nice hoppy amber as well. However, my efficiency was shit. In march I upgraded to a grainfather. This was crucial because gluten free brewing requires long step mashes (and added enzymes) to get proper conversion. The grainfather allows me to hold these temps with ease. It's not a perfect unit, but it works pretty well for my needs.

    Anyway, now I'm really in love with brewing. I'm constantly reading and delving deeper into the process. It's tough because it's really uncharted territory, so I can't just find the info by googling it. In the beginning I brewed very similar beers and just changed 1 or 2 things to see the result. So much experimentation. Also, if I didn't have guidance from the guys on HBT I would be lost. Many of them have done extensive experiments to get where we are now. And now I'm just another brewer trying to push us all forward. I am making some tasty brews and I'm very happy with most of them. People at parties are even asking to drink them and say they'd have no idea they are gluten free. I'm actually getting requests to rebrew some beers and share (to non GF drinkers). Thinks are looking up!

    On the downside - GF grains are ~5x the cost of normal grains. BOOOOOOO! But we all know we're not saving money anyway....Cheers
  9. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (869) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

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  10. GormBrewhouse

    GormBrewhouse Disciple (393) Jun 24, 2015 Vermont

    My story?????? to long and sorted to tell, unlike the Prep, lol.

    Got home brewing about 6 or so years ago, learned from others and books, then heard about beer advocate. Most said it was a bunch of opinonated assholes who probabaly did not know a thing about beer. So , of course, I had to log in. after several years here I think the assholes are the other guys who were talking about this site. its been great fun, helpful and super informative.
    Best story is reading all the other brewers wins , loses and opinions. Its just a super site.
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  11. dmtaylor

    dmtaylor Aspirant (204) Dec 30, 2003 Wisconsin

    I agree, the assholes here on BA forums generally seem smarter than the gentler newbs on many other forums.

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  12. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (869) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    So . . . this might get a little circuitous, so bear with me while I provide a little background.

    Went to grad. school before I turned 21. Most of my experience with beer up until that point was BMC. Started drinking with a couple fellas once I turned 21 and many times we'd head out to Old Chicago, which had Samuel Smith's in bottles. The Oatmeal Stout was a revelation. Started drinking more and more craft beer throughout school with frequent trips to local brewpubs and better bars, like The Fox and The Hound (this was Iowa in the mid/late-90s, so cut me some slack) and continued doing so when I moved to Atlanta after school. Atlanta in the late 90s, early 2000s wasn't exactly a beer wonderland, but it wasn't a complete beer wasteland either, so I did the same thing that I did in school. Tried to drink the best beer available.

    Fast forward to 2002 and I'm planning a cross country trip from Pittsburgh to LA to move my brother and I used BA to help me find places to go to find craft beer in St. Louis, Denver, Las Vegas, and LA. I've been using BA as a resource ever since.

    Moved to Denver later that year and that's where my involvement in BA, and eventually homebrewing, took off. Met a couple guys through BA and they encouraged me to start the hobby. I loved drinking all types of craft beer by this point, but the thought of brewing it just conjured thoughts of making a mess and having to clean it up. How right I was!

    Christmas of 2004, I received a homebrewing kit and off to the races I went. Started with extract and kits but shortly made the transition to my own extract recipes and, eventually, to partial mashed recipes. Not long after that I was brewing all-grain and doing some out of the box stuff, like using apple cider as strike water and putting black beans in my mash.

    Tried a lot of "weird" stuff, a la DFH, until I found my stride with braggots. Sour and funky beer followed not long afterwards.

    Really took the dive about 7 or 8 years ago as far as sour beer brewing went and my eventual involvement with Milk the Funk only served to stoke the fire.

    About 3 years ago I started brewing a lot less. Twice a month turned into once a month which soon turned into every other month then once a quarter. Just kinda lost the inspiration to brew anything other than the hoppy beers that were my everyday drinkers.

    Enter BA about a year ago and with the help of you all I've gotten back the interest in brewing and have found a new voice from a creative and educational standpoint. You lot have really helped me a ton, both with inspiration and learning things that I didn't know before, and I'm very thankful to you for it.

    Cheers to BA!
  13. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (869) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    I'll take that as a complement. :wink:
  14. skleice

    skleice Aspirant (247) Aug 6, 2015 Connecticut

    I don't want to derail the thread, but clarity ferm is not safe for Celiac's. Many people drink these 'gluten reduced' beers and feel no physical side effects. However, their blood work and endoscopy show major damage to their small bowel. No bueno.

    *Steps down off soap box*
  15. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (869) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    No derailment. I think it's a very appropriate discussion. The take away, however, is that just because a person exhibits "gluten sensitivity" does not mean they have "Celiac Disease/Sprue".
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  16. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (869) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
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  17. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (95) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina

    Great thread....hopefully more will share. It's good to read about the paths folks took to start brewing and what keeps them in (or brings them back). Overcoming challenges associated when brewing (and we all have them) fosters a greater appreciation for the hobby.
    When does this transition from hobby to obsession (as in, "Man, that guys got a problem")? It's something I need to guard against, especially when moving in non-brewing circles. Most folks I talk with FTF don't brew and know much less than I do. Even with my limited knowledge it's easy for me to get overly exuberant, and I need to watch for glazing of their eyes.

    I didn't give a wit for dark robust beers until I had Smith's Oatmeal Stout with a wonderfully cooked medium-rare ribeye.
  18. Naugled

    Naugled Defender (612) Sep 25, 2007 New York

    This is great, it's nice to see the ages of some of you guys.

    I was only a kid back in the seventies, but I remember when homebrewing was legalized and the local grocery stores started carrying cans of pre-hopped malt with a packet of yeast taped to the top. They were right on the shelves in the canned goods section. A got a couple of friends together to pitch in and buy some. (the grocery store would sell malt to minors). We were like moonshiners, we had to find hidden places to mix and ferment. Boiling was not always required. A neighborhood church attic that we gained access to became our fermentation room of choice. The beer did not ever come out tasting as good as the Rheingolds I was sneaking out of dad's beer fridge, but it was a start. Been brewing on and off since then, mostly on for the last 3 decades.

    The advent of the internet and forums like this greatly improved my brewing skills. Books and a home brew shop were a good source before that, but they were limited.
  19. jbakajust1

    jbakajust1 Moderator (1,250) Aug 25, 2009 Oregon

    I grew up in a home where alcohol was a no-no, and drinking was going to send me to hell. In my teens I was into hard alcohol, and never really got into beer.

    After going back to drinking sends you to hell beliefs for 5 years I had a come to Jesus moment that changed my outlook on faith and alcohol consumption. Had my first real beer in my life at a Chili's, they had Widmer's Snow Plow Milk Stout on draft and I got the 20oz pour (after not drinking a drop for 5 years that beer knocked me back). Continued to explore craft beer at a local Rogue satellite pub in town. I found BA and started reading through the threads. Moved onto DFH Midas Touch, forced myself to drink PtE because everyone on BA said it was the best beer in the world. This went on for 2 years.

    A friend of mine that I was on staff with at out church said we should brew a beer together. I kept trying to make it happen, and he kept not having time. My wife finally got tired of me talking about how I wanted to brew a beer but Matt keeps blowing my off. On my birthday that year (late November) she bought me a starter kit from the LHBS (sani, 6.5 gallon bucket, bottling bucket, capper, siphon, airlock, tubing, etc). My Mother-In-Law bought me an extract kit to make Snow Plow at home (yes my first beer was also my first brew). I made the Snow Plow and let it ferment away. Having jumped into the HB forum here I had learned that I could reuse the yeast. I also had a partial package of hops from the first beer. So I bought the kit again, made it a 3.5 gallon batch with brown sugar added in the fermenter, and pitched it onto the cake. After that fermented I put it into 1 gallon jars to age, some on oak and bourbon. Then batch 3 was a partial mash Tripel I wrote the recipe for with help from this forum. All grain black IPA kit for batch 4, AG ESB recipe I wrote and flew by this forum again #5. 6th batch was a double mash with 2 boils, Bavarian Hefe (on yeast I had cultured from bottles of Kellerwiesse) and a Pineapple Wheat IPA with Falconer's Flight (also sour mashed the leftover grains and made a putrid "berlinerweisse")

    8 years later I am still on BA, still brewing away at least once a month, do mostly IPAs, sours, Saisons, and a handful of other styles like the same Hefe, bourbon Imperial Stouts, big Belgians (all the beers I started with). Only style I have ever failed to make well is Wee Heavy. Have medaled in quite a few comps, and took Best of Show with my first truly wild ferment. Wrote a business plan and started the process towards opening a brewery but put that on the back burner to focus on my family and my son.

    It's been a blast to learn from some of the best homebrewers on here (sad some are gone from BA now, HB42). You have helped me build recipes when I wasn't confident. You talked me into using Belgian Saison for which I am forever grateful. You walked me through huge issues in my efficiency and a wide spread infection over numerous batches. You have given me a wealth of knowledge. It is quite humbling to have so many of the newer brewers asking me a lot of the same questions I used to ask you all. I never thought I would become one of the first 2 Homebrew Forum mods for BA. I never considered that I would have an article published in Brew Your Own magazine.

    Thanks guys, and gals, and bearded gals/guys (still not sure if that was a dude or a chick). Special shout out to @PortLargo for all the crap about the angle of my photos and the "emulation" with glasses strapped to boards at odd angles.
    #20 jbakajust1, Aug 13, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2018
  20. Buck89

    Buck89 Poo-Bah (2,326) Feb 7, 2015 Tennessee
    Premium Trader

    I grew up in SoCal but left in the early 90s, just as the craft wave hit. Anchor Steam, Pete's Wicked, and SN Pale Ale were my favorite craft beers back then, but I was less interested in the taste than simply partying. Spending the next several years in Baltimore, central VA, and then Nashville kept me largely away from great beer scenes, although I certainly enjoyed Flying Dog and a few others. I became mainly a Bourbon and wine drinker, enjoying a rare craft beer but not thinking too much about it.

    In late 2014, I gave my good friend a relatively cheap homebrew kit as a birthday gift and it really piqued my interest. Surprising to me, he never showed any interest in brewing. However, I started looking into (obsessing about?) homebrewing and found BA. I lurked for a few weeks, watched a few YouTube videos, and pulled the trigger on a 5 gal starter kit from a LHBS in January 2015. Brilliantly, the starter kit included Palmer's How to Brew, which I read before my first batch. Doing "market research," I discovered all the great craft that I had missed, and I started ticking/reviewing on BA. I became totally hooked on all things beer and brewed nearly 20 beers in 2015, switching from extract to BIAB after 5 brews. By the end of the year, I had built a keezer and started kegging. 6 months later, I was out of the kitchen using a turkey fryer in the driveway. After 40+ brews in 3 years, we moved across town into a renovated house. There just happened to be a small space in the basement that wasn't being used, and I managed to put in a vent hood and a 240V outlet for electric brewing. My new system is a 1 vessel eBIAB, and after 3 brews I'm very happy with it. After a 5-month hiatus, I've got 2 beers in the keezer and a Belgian dubbel in the fermenter.

    And finally thanks to everyone at the BA homebrewing site. I check this site nearly every day and I'm grateful for all the advice and support here. Cheers!
  21. Jesse14

    Jesse14 Initiate (184) Jul 21, 2011 Massachusetts

    Got into Microbrews back in 1993 and 1994 when I went to some big beer festivals in Boston. Tried a lot of different beers and styles and fell in love.

    Fast forward to 2009 when I went to a beer festival at My. Snow in VT and tried DFH 60. I was blown away. I bought some after and shared it with friends. One in particular just had a girl the same age as mine. He said he used to homebrew and wanted to start again.

    We went to his house for a day with just us and the 2 girls. The kids played while we brewed. It became our version of a play date for a couple of years. I've been brewing since. It will be a lifelong hobby for sure. Love the experimentation and creative outlet.
  22. invertalon

    invertalon Devotee (434) Jan 27, 2009 Ohio

    Started before I was 21, of course… I was with my girlfriend at Sea World Orlando sometime around 2007-2008, back when Anheuser Busch still owned the properties. They used to have free beer at two stations in the park, with a decent selection of options available for tasting, which was if I recall probably 10-12oz pour. Since my girlfriend was of age, she would go and grab samples for me, and in that Florida heat, enjoyed those beers immensely. Literally went back and forth between those two “hospitality centers” and drank probably 5-6 beers that day. That was probably the start of it all, honestly. Those were probably my very first beers, aside from tasting thing here and there. I wasn’t really a rebel when I was under 21 sneaking stuff, so rocking it at Sea World was my thing. Ha!

    As time goes on and I become of age, I really enjoyed trying out what Dogfish was putting out. They were my go-to in the “craft” segment. As time went on, I would start picking up different beers here and there at the grocery store and have maybe 1-2 a week on weekends. This went on for a while (few years) until we start going to a few different breweries here and there. I start reading more into brewing beers loosely on this site if I recall. Then going to different breweries and touring the facilities, I soaked up that process like a sponge. It was at Southern Tier the second time we have been, on their tour, that I looked at my girlfriend while on the tour and told her “I got this, I’m going to start brewing!”.

    After that weekend trip, I spent a week reading “How to Brew” over and over, among many other resources. I’m one that when I get into something, I go all-in. I spend the time researching hop flavors and profiles, grains, recipe building, water, etc… I started all-grain from the very beginning, brewing my first beer, “Ruff Ale”. Which ended up being a hoppy amber which turned out really good, actually. 100% my own recipe, I take pride in that I have never have cloned or copied anybody else’s beer, to this day. Inspired by some, sure, but never identical and always tweak to fit my own tastes. That Ruff Ale was heavier on caramel and Munich malt, hopped with cascade and chinook, perhaps some Citra if I can remember. I would like to re-brew that one day soon to be honest.

    From there, I brewed a Hefeweizen next and I think a DIPA was my third… The rest is history. I quickly got into controlled fermentation temps, more complex water treatments, buying my own malt mill, switching from bottles to kegs, yeast growing/harvesting, etc.... Now here I am!
  23. Mothergoose03

    Mothergoose03 Poo-Bah (2,258) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    I became interested in craft beer when a brewery opened in town in 1996. A few years later my daughter married a guy who is a homebrewer, and she became interested and started brewing too. A year or two later they gifted me with the equipment and a 5-gallon extract kit for my first brew in 2001. I didn't like that beer so after I gave away some and drank the rest I expanded my horizons and started searching for recipes that I wanted to brew. My recipe source was mostly the book Clonebrews and I'd mainly select different styles that I wanted to learn about and not so much what beer the recipe was trying to clone. This gave me the opportunity to brew a beer and then to find the real beer at the store and compare the two to see how I did.

    Later I selected specific beers from the book that I wanted to try because of their hype but I wasn't able to purchase at the store. I was brewing beers that I really liked by then. (Still extract, never went to all-grain.) Later I discovered that recipes were available on the Internet for 'dream' beers like Pliny, so I was able to brew it, and began sourcing my selections for each brew for the hard-to-get, very highly hyped beers.

    But then I retired from work and (you won't believe this) I didn't have time to brew anymore. I was working on projects around the house that had been 'on hold' awaiting retirement, and then once i got caught up on them I took on volunteer opportunities and also began traveling to fill up my time. My travels have been a lot focused on visiting breweries on a series of long-distance drives with brewpubs in the gun sights every day when we'd stop for the night.

    So it's been about 4 years since I last brewed but I like to stay in touch in this forum, still learning the fine points of brewing and contributing when I can. I do have two recipes that I'd like to brew this year, so we'll see how that goes. I have no travel plans for the rest of the year, so far..........
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  24. marknu1

    marknu1 Initiate (49) May 12, 2017 California

    Mid-90s: Freshly out of college, and freshly broken up with my girlfriend, I needed a change from San Diego. My sister had moved to the Bay Area with her boyfriend a few years earlier, so I hit them up and stayed on their floor in Oakland for a month until I was able to find a place. My sister's boyfriend (now my brother in law) had been brewing with his buddies for a few years at that point, and had started doing all-grain. I browsed some of the books that were lying around, and observed a brew day from time to time. It looked fun, and the beers they were making were a far cry from the big brand lagers and skunky imports I was used to; they were actually pretty damn good. During my stay in the East Bay, I hit places like Triple Rock and Jupiter, who were serving up some really great craft beer (before anyone called it that). So now I wanted good beer!

    Bay Area proved cold, crowded and expensive, so I came back to San Diego. A previous band mate, and good friend needed a room mate, so I moved in. He and I started checking out more and more of the new good beer that was starting to pop up, and soon we decided to give brewing a try ourselves. We did a number of extract batches, and they were all pretty darn good...initially. We probably weren't the best when it came to sanitizing bottles, or anything else, for that matter, and the beers we made started to tail off in quality pretty quickly. Still, it was fun.

    By the beginning of the 2000s I was working a pretty decent job, and decided to become an "adult" (Fuck that! Really??) by buying a condo. My friend owned the brewing equipment, so that was gone, and I didn't have much room for it in my place anyway. Brewing was put on hold. I'd visit with my friends from the Bay a few times a year, and kept wanting to brew again, but just didn't have the time or space.

    Fast forward to 2013. My girlfriend of the last few years and I decided to get married. We needed a house. A couple months of looking and making offers, and we finally landed one. After a few months in the new place, it suddenly struck me: Damn! I can BREW NOW! And I was going straight to all-grain, damn it! 5 years and several thousand dollars later, here I am. I'm no longer 'poisoning' people with bad to failed attempts at beer. Ha ha! They're all pretty decent these days. Still, so much more to learn...
    #25 marknu1, Aug 14, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2018
  25. Lukass

    Lukass Savant (935) Dec 16, 2012 Ohio

    Bought my first Homebrew kit about 9 years ago - it was a Brooklyn brew shop apple spice ale 1 gal kit. The beer turned out terrible from what I remember, but was still hooked on the fact that I made ‘beer’ and it actually carbonated in the bottle. Crazy right?

    After that I moved to 5 gal extract kits and did a bunch of stove top brews for a couple years. I was still in post-college mode, so I made a lot of high gravity beers that didn’t taste that great but I got a good buzz off them. Once I started truly appreciating good craft beer, I really started honing in on the importance of yeast health, and writing more of my own recipes.

    I was always a bit intimidated by all-grain brewing until i watched John Palmer’s video, and it seemed pretty straightforward. I dove right in, and made a killer first all-grain batch - a rye porter. Since then I’ve brewed 50+ all-grain batches. Started experimenting with Brett and bacteria in the past 3 or so years and now I’m hooked on funky and/or sour beer, with the occasional stout or IPA thrown into the mix.

    I’m 32, with 2 daughters under 3, and we just bought a new house, with a possible new job. Life is definitely getting in the way of brewing right now, but it’s a minor setback! I haven’t been on BA a lot lately, or at least not as often as I was before, but expect to see me around more into the next few months.
    NorCalKid, frozyn, PortLargo and 11 others like this.
  26. NorCalKid

    NorCalKid Initiate (99) Jan 10, 2018 California

    S***, spill my guts? Started in the distribution biz at 22 at an AB house in 2006. I’ve slinged more beer than you can imagine, from Tahoe through snow and heat into the greater Sacramento area driving 18 wheelers. But it taught me a lot about craft beer and how much I loved and enjoyed it. Started extract brewing around then. Gave up for a while but got back into all-grain brewing, head diving into this hobby a couple years ago. This website has been interesting at best but highly informative, enjoyable, and the comradeship has keep me coming back.
  27. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (869) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    FWIW, I'm still amazed by this. I keep thinking that it should be harder to make awesome beer, but it just isn't.
  28. Lukass

    Lukass Savant (935) Dec 16, 2012 Ohio

    Agreed. I can’t tell you how many times I thought, “shit, this batch is gonna suck, I screwed this part up in the process”, or “is it infected?” but they’ve always turned out great. It’s amazing how resilient beer can be.
  29. deadwolfbones

    deadwolfbones Initiate (70) Jun 21, 2014 Oregon

    I brewed a beer from an extract kit back in 2008, and it was pretty good. Promptly forgot about the hobby for ~8 years.

    Come 2016, Trump got elected and I knew I had to pick up an all-consuming hobby to avoid getting my head stuck in the news cycle for the next four years.

    I'm a huge beer nerd and I had a pretty positive experience with that one batch way back when, so I got a NB kit and dove in head first. I guess you could say it worked.
    marknu1, LuskusDelph, frozyn and 10 others like this.
  30. ssam

    ssam Aspirant (274) Dec 2, 2008 California

    I have a buddy who is now a genius level chemist at Stanford but when we were 15 taking AP Chem he convinced me to try an experiment with him. We played a lot of beer pong in those days and so I knew Keystone Light, Coors Light, Bud Light, and Corona with lime. I hated beer until that first batch we made, a brown ale. The joy of homebrewing and research for subsequent batches introduced me to this site, craft beer, and a lifelong hobby. Polished my skills at 19 when I muscled my way into every class Bamforth taught at UC Davis (you're supposed to be 21 for most of them). By the time I could legally drink, I was pretty far gone.
  31. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (10,335) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    The first time I drank beer beyond just a sip from a can as a child I drank mostly Canadian beers and I was blown away by the fact that they all tasted so different - I'd been told that all beer basically tasted the same, and to a certain extent in 1970's American that was probably slightly true. But the flood gates were opened - I loved the taste of beer and I was only 18!

    I didn't have any more beer until I was 19 or 20 and could get into bars because I knew the bands that were playing. Yuengling porter was very popular in Philly at the time, as were black & tans, and then I found my true loves: Whitbread, John Courage, and Watney's Red Barrel.

    I tried every beer that I could once I turned 21 and I wanted to learn about beer so I picked up a book but it turned out to be a homebrew book! Damn! I wanted to learn how beer was brewed! I then found another book called "Brewing Beers Like Those You Buy" by Dave Line. Another homebrew book! But I read them, and knew how to if I wanted to.

    One day my wife came home from work with 2 brand new 5 gallon plastic buckets that she was going to use for recycling - I decided that if I basically had the equipment I might as well try to homebrew!

    I went to Home Sweet Homebrew in Philly and bought some extract and hops and that was it! I was on my way. That was around 1992, and by '94 I had paid my tuition to go to Siebel and quit my job to work as a host at Dock Street Brewing Co. I never got anywhere there, but I then volunteered at Yards Brewing. I went to Siebel, and when I got back I lucked into a job at Manayunk Brewing. I should have stayed at Yards, my mistake, but what can you do.
  32. Lukass

    Lukass Savant (935) Dec 16, 2012 Ohio

    6,203 beers to be exact :slight_smile: Man, I thought i've tried a lot of beers until I saw your 'hads' list. Although, I must say, since I started homebrewing, I've slowed down on drinking a lot of commercial beers.
  33. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (869) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    Lagers are about the only commercial beers that I regularly buy at the store. Probably because I don't make them. Pub's a different story.
    NorCalKid, Lukass and GormBrewhouse like this.
  34. GormBrewhouse

    GormBrewhouse Disciple (393) Jun 24, 2015 Vermont

    Ditto Jesus,,, I believe I. A done with lager homebrewing
  35. jbakajust1

    jbakajust1 Moderator (1,250) Aug 25, 2009 Oregon

    Let's keep this going peepholes... interested in how you all got into this...
  36. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (95) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina

    ....including how/why some of the pro-brewers took the plunge in to homebrewing.
  37. Eggman20

    Eggman20 Initiate (51) Feb 14, 2017 Minnesota

    My story isn't all that complicated nor as interesting as some of you guys but I'll share anyway!

    Never really got into beer until about 3 and a half years ago when I went to a beer fest with a bunch of friends and tried Surly Darkness Russian Imperial for the first time (plus a bunch of other craft beers). It opened my eyes to what beer could actually be and my wallet has been hurting ever since. A couple months after getting into craft beer I was looking into a new hobby since I was getting to the age that playing sports is getting difficult and figured making beer sounded interesting. First batch turned out terrible and I made all kinds of mistakes. 2nd batch was a lucky one that turned out awesome. From there I was hooked and jumped to all grain one year later. Every year the misses become less and the hits more but I know I'm getting better and better each batch even if they are failures.
  38. TheBeerery

    TheBeerery Initiate (84) May 2, 2016 Minnesota

    Been brewing since 2000, started with lagers and am still brewing them today.

    About a year ago, I set out to construct a professional "German" brewhouse in my basement. While its not completely finished as of yet, it's getting close. I still have the room left to finish, grain storage and delivery, and hop automation left. It's my "masterpiece"

    I partnered with stout tanks and kettles to come out with a Low Oxygen Brewing specific kettle line, so others could buy these if interested. I designed theses kettles specifically to be optimized for my brewing. So this really is a from scratch build, all the way from designing the kettles, to them being custom built to my specs, etc.

    The Vessel specs:

    26 gallon HERMS HLT
    50ft SS herms coil
    Tangential whirlpool inlet
    100% tri clover, sanitary welded and mirror polished inside and out
    Bottom Drain
    On legs and wheels.
    Gasketed and clamped lid
    Sample Port

    20 gallon mash tun
    100% tri clover, sanitary welded and mirror polished inside and out.
    Custom Lautering pipe
    Custom hangers inside for a BIAB bag
    Bottom drain
    On legs and wheels.
    Gasketed and clamped lid
    Sample Port

    20 Gallon Boil kettle
    100% tri clover, sanitary welded and mirror polished inside and out.
    Domed bottom, with trub dam
    Tangential whirlpool inlet
    On legs and wheels.
    Gasketed and clamped lid
    Sample Port


    To control the system, I built a control panel from scratch using a 24" touch screen monitor. I 3d modeled the system from scratch as well, and use that as my background.


    Assembled system



    The Setup:
    The system features roughly 24 electric ball valves
    15 solenoid valves
    5 proportional valves
    4 pumps
    8 flow meters
    9 temperature sensors
    2 Mirco motion mass flow meters, for realtime gravity in the mash tun and boil kettle
    Each vessel has its own DO and pH probes.
    Each vessel has its own volume sensors
    Each vessel has it own Pressure sensors (for monitoring pressure in the vessels)
    4 CFC chillers
    Each vessel has a dedicated oxygen sensor for o2% in the headspace
    Built in acid dosing, and auto ph logic
    RO TDS and replacement automation
  39. TheBeerery

    TheBeerery Initiate (84) May 2, 2016 Minnesota

    I have built the automation scripts from scratch, and as of right now it is nearly 100% automated ( minus grain delivery and hop additions, but thats in progress)

    The brewing interface looks like this :

    On brewday, I have a separate page that I upload all the variables to that day of brewing

    Once I click "Recipe Input", it then goes about its way on brewing.

    Which makes it very easy to start brew sessions early in the morning, or even from work, and time it to be home just for hop additions.

    Stress free remote brewing:

    When brewing is done, the fermentation automation takes over with a few stout conicals, and some SS brew buckets.


    Again I 3d modeled everything and built the scripts to control it



    Once fermentation is nearing completion and since I brew according to the RHG, the system will transfer the beer over to the serving kegs where its using some more custom scripting to "Auto Spund" the kegs based on their temperature and carbonation level desired. It's all dynamic, and no human interaction is needed.


    I built this brewery because the Continental macro brewers and their technology fascinate me. I have the strictest of standards when it comes to beer, and this system allows me to always reproduce the beer I set out to brew. Automation is one of my favorite things to do, and it allows me to have stress free, and always consistent product.