What's your story, home brewers?

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

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  1. minderbender

    minderbender Initiate (0) Jan 18, 2009 New York

    Note to new brewers who might be somewhat intimidated by @TheBeerery's setup: You don't actually need equipment that sophisticated for your first several batches. I'd say a lot of brewers go a year or two (or even three!) before incurring that kind of expense. Until then, you can probably successfully brew for like 2/3 to 3/4 of what he spent.
  2. Prep8611

    Prep8611 Disciple (300) Aug 22, 2014 New Jersey

    I consider myself a successful homebrewer and I prolly spent 1/20th of what he spent. May not be up to a German pro level like he aims to be but it’s definitely pretty tasty beer and it allows me to have a creative outlet which is why I brew. New brewers can start with basically very little and still be proud of the beer they make from a taste perspective.
  3. invertalon

    invertalon Zealot (501) Jan 27, 2009 Ohio

    You dont *ever* need to go beyond buckets to make world class beer. Some people like to automate everything and push buttons, others like to do everything manually or anywhere inbetween. In the end, its about recipe, process and the execution. Equipment is hardly a factor in making amazing beer, within reason.

    Was speaking with a dude who has a fully automated brewing setup that is all run by computer, fully automated. He brews from his couch... I am not envious of a setup like that one bit, as to me, it feels a bit disconnected. I enjoy the manual aspect of the hobby, going automated to that extent would kill it for me. But for some, they enjoy that obviously. Just depends what you like!
    #43 invertalon, Sep 16, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2018
  4. Prep8611

    Prep8611 Disciple (300) Aug 22, 2014 New Jersey

    @invertalon If people enjoy automation then I think that’s cool. If people enjoy lifting heavy shit all day like I do then that’s cool too. I’m happy to hear everyone’s stories and they are all interesting. I think it’s awesome that @TheBeerery enjoys automation and I think he makes some of the best looking beer I’ve ever seen pro or amateur. I was just taken aback by the comment about not needing a setup like that until after several batches from another poster. I’ve done over 50 batches and never dreamed of anything like that.

    Most people (99.9%) will never need equipment like that to make good beer. Ever in their life. If I had to guess his set up is well over 20k. I’m well below the 2k mark in terms of equipment. To each his own but beginners don’t need anywhere close to that for a lifetime.
    LuskusDelph, frozyn, riptorn and 3 others like this.
  5. GormBrewhouse

    GormBrewhouse Zealot (536) Jun 24, 2015 Vermont

    and then theres me, who brews outside , next to the wood shed, all manual and lots of folks like my work.
    I have nothing against automation but am content with beers i produce.

    to each there own.
    LuskusDelph, skivtjerry and riptorn like this.
  6. TheBeerery

    TheBeerery Initiate (0) May 2, 2016 Minnesota

    Didn't mean to inspire an eternal debate. Sorry for posting my story.
  7. minderbender

    minderbender Initiate (0) Jan 18, 2009 New York

    Folks I was a little drunk and my post should be taken as nothing more than a stab at humor.
    Prep8611, frozyn and riptorn like this.
  8. JohnnyChicago

    JohnnyChicago Initiate (0) Sep 3, 2010 Illinois

    Nah, I wouldn’t even say it’s a debate. It’s the nature of this and all hobbies. People take it as far as they want. Some dive into the science, some the history, some the art, etc. Some embrace a purely minimalist approach, some embrace complexity. This hobby means so many different things to everyone and that variety is a huge part of its beauty. I love seeing everyone’s different understanding of beer and brewing.
  9. riptorn

    riptorn Zealot (532) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    Hey @TheBeerery, what was it that initially got you interested in homebrewing? And was there an "Aha!" moment that was the trigger for scaling up to your soon to be completed system? (something tells me it will never be "complete" :wink: )
  10. skleice

    skleice Aspirant (299) Aug 6, 2015 Connecticut

    Your story is cool as shit. I find it fascinating and can't imagine how much work and thought went into your setup . Brew on!
  11. Naugled

    Naugled Savant (940) Sep 25, 2007 New York

    Don't be sorry...

    I love that floor drain. Did you cut that into the slab?
    GormBrewhouse and Prep8611 like this.
  12. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Poo-Bah (2,061) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Society Trader

    So back on track.
    I've been brewing since 2011, I don't know how many batches I have under my belt, but a few. I started with a kit my neighbor bought me after I did ball joints on his truck. I started with a bucket, a craigslist Turkey fryer, a hydrometer, and red wing caper. Went from extract to all grain within 6 months using 10 gallon coolers, and am now up to 15gallon direct fire three burner system. I have a pump that I don't use, and a few different fermented I don't like. I still sparge with a sauce pan, I still use gravity and my trusty bucket. I do use a spiedel fermenter now as well, but it's really just a fancy bucket. I started kegging a batch ago, and picked up a chest freezer to use as a fermentation chamber. Fermentation temp control has made my beers phenomenal, and legging has made my life easy. Other than that, all the other gadgets have been for nothing.
  13. dmtaylor

    dmtaylor Aspirant (238) Dec 30, 2003 Wisconsin

    I'm still all giddy over my ownership of a Barleycrusher malt mill and my refractometer. And I asked Santa for a Tilt for Christmas. That's about as high-tech as I'll ever get!
  14. Maestro0708

    Maestro0708 Initiate (0) Feb 27, 2015 Kentucky

    I brewed my first batch in March of last year. I had been interested in homebrewing for some time, and finally decided to purchase a Northern Brewer starter kit. With the help of a friend who had brewed once before, I made their amber ale kit and was hooked.

    Last fall I invested in a chest freezer and inkbird controller for temperature control and saw a huge improvement in my beer.

    This spring I made the jump to all grain and purchased the Brewers edge Mash & Boil.

    I'm now starting to feel really good about the beers that I'm making, although I have a long way to go. My next steps are to invest in a grain mill and get into kegging.


    Edited to add: Next weekend I'll be brewing my 20th batch: a dark mild.
  15. Prep8611

    Prep8611 Disciple (300) Aug 22, 2014 New Jersey

    Lol not placing any blame on you... relax... your not an effigy this topic.
  16. GormBrewhouse

    GormBrewhouse Zealot (536) Jun 24, 2015 Vermont

    yeah, just differrent approches. in the end, if the beer tastes good, and you have enough, YOU WIN!!!!!!!
    LuskusDelph, frozyn, riptorn and 4 others like this.
  17. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Poo-Bah (2,061) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Society Trader

    @TheBeerery your system is pretty amazing, and your attention to detail and process is impeccable. I wish some local breweries took that kind of seriousness to heart when brewing. I think what may be coming across as disdain was meant to come across to any new brewers as a reminder that while we may take this hobby to the nth degree, it is still possible to make good beer simply. While I could never see myself taking this hobby to your level, you should see the diagnostic equipment I have for cars. Some people just don't get why I have $100k wrapped up in scanners, scopes, and other tools. We all have our passions, and i applaud you for sharing about yours.
    LuskusDelph, frozyn, Prep8611 and 5 others like this.
  18. GormBrewhouse

    GormBrewhouse Zealot (536) Jun 24, 2015 Vermont

    as always,,, a fine point from the CO brewer!!! which beggs a question from the north, Does the @TheBeerery have or has worked at a commercial brewery???

    Truley your set up is awsum and as you say, your masterpiece. most of us can not or will not ever have such a home brewery, and as for myself, the talent or knowle
    Prep8611, riptorn and SFACRKnight like this.
  19. skivtjerry

    skivtjerry Zealot (598) Mar 10, 2006 Vermont

    Many of us are opinionated assholes, but we know a few things about beer:grin:
  20. skivtjerry

    skivtjerry Zealot (598) Mar 10, 2006 Vermont

    [QUOTE="Mothergoose03, post: 6137978, member: 21273"

    "But then I retired from work and (you won't believe this) I didn't have time to brew anymore."

    Understood, I am reluctant to retire because I'm afraid my wife will work me to death at home.
  21. skivtjerry

    skivtjerry Zealot (598) Mar 10, 2006 Vermont

    I suppose it started when my grandmother gave me a sip of her PBR when I was 5. I can still remember the taste, which is now recognizable as green beer made with lots of corn, but I liked it at the time. Fast forward to college, many of my track team mates were from Ireland and the UK. They introduced me to what little decent beer was available in the US back then... Tooth Sheaf Stout from Australia stands out here.

    After graduation, I had a geology degree and the latest oil industry bust had hit bottom so there were no real employment prospects. Went to Steamboat to be a ski bum until times got better. I couldn't afford good beer. One day I stumbled across The Complete Joy of Homebrewing at the library. A little research revealed a homebrew shop in town and I was off to the races. The shop's owner was quite knowledgeable and mostly helped me avoid rookie mistakes. The first batch was good. The next two OK, then a disastrous attempt to ferment in my bedroom closet in August. I persevered, and 6 months after starting was doing all grain batches with yeast cultured from commercial beer (thank you Dave Brereton, if you're out there somewhere!). Still at it 32 years later.

    My setup is decidedly low tech, basically stove top mashing and boiling supersized and brought outside. This is on purpose, the manual labor aspect appeals to me as I can really feel what I'm creating. I do pay close attention to water chemistry and pH throughout the process, but consider +/- 2F plenty good for mashing, and can get this by feel at this point. I am now very fortunate to have a cool, stable environment for fermentation and soft well water that pours at 44F year round. Most beers that I enter in competitions win some kind of ribbon, and the vast majority taste good to me too (have dumped a few batches but some were IPA's that I just couldn't drink up before they got stale; actual spoiled batches number 3 and counting...). Mostly just wish I had time to brew more often nowadays.
  22. JohnnyChicago

    JohnnyChicago Initiate (0) Sep 3, 2010 Illinois

    I grew up sipping Honkers Ale and Guinness from my dad’s pints, so maybe I was destined for this?

    First fermentation was senior year of high school. Last party of the year, I collected cash from everybody and made 20gal. of 10% mead with grocery store honey and bread yeast. We got Viking-level drunk and I wondered why the hell I hadn’t made booze before...

    College brought easier access to beer, but I yearned for the flavorful beers I had sipped growing up, so the day I turned 21, I marched into the local beer store and purchased a bottle of Hop Stoopid, Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout and Duvel. My love for craft beer had begun.

    I brewed my first batch while bored and recovering from an emergency appendectomy. Hooked.
    I started brewing in my Queens, NY apartment and got my roommates involved. I guess I had a good influence on them because one of them would become a brewer himself.

    I realized that it was brewing, not law, that I wanted to pursue, so I left school and came back to Chicago with my resume wrapped around a 6 pack of homebrew and dropped it off at every beer business in the city.
    Got a position at a homebrew shop that I would hold in some capacity for years. Got a job selling beer for a big distributer for 3 years. Got a job packaging at a bad brewery for a couple months.
    Then moved to my current company (great brewery), where I would end up brewing in the R&D pub for a large regional brewery.

    I’ve always thought of myself as a homebrewer first and a pro second. My homebrew rig was very DIY in the beginnning. I lucked into a very nice .5bbl system that I’ve been brewing on for a couple years now.
    I think approaching your career as a hobby - a labor of love, allows you to take yourself less seriously, open your mind creatively, and really connect yourself to the product you are crafting with your own hands.

    I won’t lie - sometimes it really sucks to finish up a 12 hour brewday at work, get home and start milling the grain for your homebrew, but I’ll never give up the hobby. Keep brewing, boys! When the bomb drops, we’ll be the most important dudes in the post apocalyptic wasteland! :grin:
  23. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Initiate (0) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

    JFC, this is beautiful.
    riptorn, frozyn and GormBrewhouse like this.
  24. TheBeerery

    TheBeerery Initiate (0) May 2, 2016 Minnesota

    I had zero interest, but my dad was gifted a mr.beer kit for a birthday. He was going to throw it away, but asked me (as a college kid) if I wanted it.. I said sure and tried it. I loved the process.. the beer no so much. This will be my last system. I have had many systems I have put together, some even larger than this. But this one has all I have ever wanted.

    Actually when I built my house a few years back, Since I was the GC, and I designed the house. I built it it right away.

    Firstly, Thanks. I don't mind how any others brew. The beauty is always in the beerholder!

    I do a decent amount of consulting for breweries. I have zero desire to ever own or work in one though. With consulting I get to do what I love to do and thats keep my day job ( which again I love), and help people troubleshoot, fix, overcome, craft specific beers. I really only consult on German based beers. I have helped many folks ( some from some pretty well known breweries!), and I really like that. But thats as far as I will take it.. For now anyways.


    Thank you all, again.
    LuskusDelph, frozyn, riptorn and 7 others like this.
  25. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poo-Bah (2,027) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania

    Nice layout. But where does the Ale Pail go?
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  26. TheBeerery

    TheBeerery Initiate (0) May 2, 2016 Minnesota

    Under my mill to catch crushed grain. :slight_smile:
  27. premierpro

    premierpro Aspirant (266) Mar 21, 2009 Michigan

    Very impressive!
  28. Jimbob-gbr

    Jimbob-gbr Initiate (0) Apr 18, 2017 Nebraska

    I was the import beer drinker while my friends drank Coors light. In my mid-twenties I discovered bluemoon. After some time of drinking bluemoon, shocktop and summer shady I stumbled across a farmhouse ale with hibiscus and white pepper and was shocked it made a good beer.
    I told my girlfriend at the time (now wife) I was interested in trying to make my own beer. She got me a Mr beer kit for Christmas. I was quick to brew the first batch in it, I followed the directions and got horrible beer. I googled to find out why and the second batch came out pretty decent for what it is.
    I then tried to build an all grain recipe with no thermometer or hydrometer. Then pitched the yeast before bed and woke up at 4am for work and it was doing nothing so I panicked and added a cup of sugar. I got off work and it overload all over the counter top. It wasn't a bad beer but not good either.
    I've been brewing 5 years now and mostly stick to extract with steeping grains. Don't have the space or time to go all grain. I can't brew as often as I like because of 3 kids with two of them being 3 and a baby. It's fun when I can fit it in but there is plenty of local craft brews to keep me happy
    Buck89, SFACRKnight, frozyn and 6 others like this.
  29. StupidlyBrave

    StupidlyBrave Initiate (74) Jan 2, 2009 Pennsylvania

    Apologies for bumping an old thread.

    I think I had several starts over the years without coming to fruition. I started drinking "craftier" beers in the early 90s and gained an interest. Coming from adjunct lagers to "pennsylvania porters" and pale ales and then to other styles lead me to start researching beer styles (this is when I started to collect bottles). I don't think there were local homebrew supply stores available to me, but I could see mail order options. So I bought Charlie Papazian's book and was immediately overwhelmed. So I put it off.
    A few years later, a buddy started homebrewing. And I got the bug again. I was able to bounce a few questions off him and I started to accumulate more supplies. Unfortunately, my better half vetoed this due to having an underage son who is gifted in the ability to get caught underage drinking.
    More years later, I am doing some genealogy research based on the (then) newly released 1940 census and I come up with a remarkable discovery. My mother's grandfather worked for a brewery. So I asked her about this, and she told me "oh yes, he was a brewmaster and had lots of medals". Looking further, I see he was working as a brewer in the 1920 census and a mechanic (lol) in the 1930 census. Since my aunt still lives in the house my great grandfather built (around 1915), my mother promised to ask her if she still had these medals.
    Digging deeper, some distant cousins suggest that my great-grandfather worked for Stegmeier in Wilkes-Barre. Coincidentally, a descendant of Charles Stegmeier opened a new microbrew in Pittston PA. So I called him up to help verify the story. It turns up his father still had records available from before the brewery closed in 1974 (it is now a Federal Building and the brand was licensed by Lion Brewery). In the meantime, I found some evidence that my great grandfather actually worked for Standard Brewing in Scranton. I'm still working on this, but my great grandfather's death certificate was signed by P.F.Cusack - there was a Cusack funeral home at the time and it was owned by the family of the president of Standard Brewing, P.F.Cusack.
    So roughly twenty years after deciding to brew beer, I brewed my first. It wasn't good. But it was a few months after assisting with my first - a national homebrew day demonstration put together by the scratch brewer at Troegs, whos goal it was to convince people to migrate from extract to all-grain. So I knew where I wanted to end up.

  30. riptorn

    riptorn Zealot (532) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    Neat story and a cool keepsake.

    I'm glad you did, and hope it inspires others to jump in.
    PapaGoose03 likes this.
  31. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (3,560) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    As a member here since 2009 you probably realize that @JessKidden is the unofficial resident beer historian, and the both of you might be able to trade info to help fill out your files. Good luck with your research.
    riptorn likes this.
  32. imposterzilla

    imposterzilla Initiate (0) Jan 23, 2019 Washington

    Just starting with a friend. Got an amazing recipe book and made a great hef. Thinking about a red? Suggestions on how to alter it.
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  33. AngryDutchman

    AngryDutchman Initiate (0) Aug 8, 2015 Pennsylvania

    I was given a subscription to the "Beer of the Month Club" around 1985 and, enjoying the quality and variety of the beers started buying books on homebrewing, subscribed to "All About Beer" and never got around to starting to brew until my ex gave me a kit for Christmas 1996 which had a stout, an IPA and an English Ale, all extract plus hops/grains and dry yeast packets. I brewed them every other week (a coworker provided me cases of returnable bottles) and they were all pretty lousy (vegetable off-flavors).
    We had a little shop in town that sold supplies and I bought The New Complete Joy of Homebrewing and tried a couple of recipes using dry yeast packets and while they were better than the kits, they still weren't what I was hoping for.
    My 6th batch followed Charlie Papazian's "Toad Spit Stout" as closely as possible using a liquid yeast. I was blown away how much of a difference the yeast made. At that point I went nuts brewing batches.
    Eventually I settled into brewing a dark lager using Muntons Nut Brown Ale kit, 1#dark malt, Tettnanger/Hallertau hops and either Bavarian or German Lager yeast and got great, consistent results. Sometimes I'd tweak it by adding or substituting honey for the dry dark malt.
    I've brewed an unknown number of batches since then, done meads and ciders, and distillation in small batches.
    The only thing holding me back the last year is that our local supply shop no longer carries liquid yeasts or vials, and I still just never get as good a result from the dried yeast packs, although they are heads and shoulders above the dry packs from 1996/97.
    I have a can of extract and a couple oz of hops, just need a quality yeast and I'd be ready to brew again. It's cool enough and I've got the time at the moment - I need to get off my ass.
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  34. riptorn

    riptorn Zealot (532) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    Hey there @imposterzilla. Wouldn’t surprise me if a lot of homebrewers started with a Hefe. I did. It was an all-extract batch and it turned out pretty good. Well, it was the first batch that made it all the way to bottling.

    You’ll probably get more tips and feedback if you start a Thread for your Red.
    In that thread, it’ll help others help you if you talk about your equipment and what type of brewing you do, or want to do (extract, partial mash, all-grain, etc.).....and describing what you like in a Red will help with recipe suggestions.

    Welcome to BA.
  35. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (3,560) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    Welcome to the BA site, imposterzilla. If you chose a recipe from an "amazing" book that might produce amazing beers why do you want to alter this recipe for a red it into something else? If you're looking to brew it to have more 'zing' you'll never know that it already had as much as 'zing' that you'd want. Being a new brewer, I'll suggest that you brew recipes 'as is' until you get a feel for what various additional ingredients will do for a finished beer.
    riptorn likes this.
  36. Arturo2

    Arturo2 Initiate (0) Jan 6, 2019 Oregon

    My kid bought me a Brooklyn Brew kit ... Afternoon Wheat. One gallon. It was all grain actually. We brewed it together one night and I was hooked on the process. Bought a 5 gallon starter kit and did one extract brew before moving to partial mash for a couple more ... and have been AG since. About 3 years now.
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