Firstly, I think that I will tell you how I got started and why. I was basically raised on beer. My parents always allowed me and my brother to have a little sample with dinner when we were growing up, providing me with a baseline of taste for the beverage. In college, me and a buddy would always seek out something different and unusual to try, much to the chagrin of our friends. The selection back in the late 80's and early 90's was slim. Sam Adams was just coming into existence. Every time I was out to eat or socialize I would always be looking for a different or unusual beer to have or try. The 90's brought on the Microbrew Revolution and slowly but surely new establishments began to spring up providing the variety for which I was searching. Still there was something more that was needed. Way back when in 1994, a friend brought in to the office his award winning Porter. He gave us a sample after work one day. He also gave me a bottle along with a bottle from another batch (pale ale I believe) for me and my buddy Mike to sample. Mike and I had our little tasting session one Saturday afternoon. Well now this was interesting, decent tasting brews done at home. Must look into this. Off we went on a lifelong homebrewing and beer adventure!
I have always had an interest in cooking, though my skill level back then was low. For those interested in making beer, if you hate to cook, you will despise making beer, for it is a longer more drawn out process. Not to discourage anyone, but being part of a homebrew club all these years has allowed me to see how few people actually stick to brewing as compared to how many want to try it. It is not for everyone and learning all of the ins and outs can take years. There are variables and different ingredients that are unimaginably vast. We got started using a simple step-by-step kit from the Home Brewery (the old home brew shop that was in Bogota back then). A simple kit that includes malt extract, hops, and yeast with a clarifying agent to add as well as specific instructions to follow is what I recommend. Learn the basic process and do it several times. Doing this allows for a good background that can be taken to the next step. In addition, I suggest getting a copy of Charlie Papazian's book "The Complete Joy of Homebrewing" and using it as a bible for getting started.
In short, I began making beer for the love of beer and the love of the process. The aromas, the flavors, the reward are all part of a great experience that I got hooked on from the first batch. This is also the time when new brew pubs began opening in the area fueling the fire. I began meeting more and more people that were into beer or were brewers of some sort themselves. Making a beer and having someone else to provide feedback is a fun and rewarding experience. Sharing a glorious beer with a pro brewer is the pinnacle of showing off. I guess it can be said that is why I love to keep making beer. Over the years, I have made relationships with dozens of pro brewers and have shared my beers with many of them, allowing me to make adjustments and perfect the craft. There are also many homebrew clubs out there covering every area of the country. Find one and become a member. There are always club members who know their stuff and can assist with getting started or correcting problems.
The adventures that homebrewing has led me on are too many to mention. Starting with the Sam Adams World Homebrew Competition which led to brewing on their system in Boston and a trip to the GABF to assisting various pro brewers at their booths at various beer festivals all around the area, it has been a non stop adventure. Make friends with the local pros and see where it takes you. Developing a palate for beer tasting has also been a part of it, which has led me on beer trips all over the country as well as a stint in rating beers on line. The adventure possibilities have increased with all the new and well done breweries and brew pubs that are now here that were not when we first started.
Keep in mind that when homebrewing, one must be patient, be willing to learn, be willing to forge ahead in the face of failure, and follow directions without cutting corners. It takes time to learn how to get the most and best out of your equipment, and to learn how to do all the techniques necessary to make great beer. This site is hopefully will be an excellent resource for ingredient recommendations, techniques and tips to make the best beer possible. I will be posting recipes that I use as well that will make great beer if followed properly. My recipes will be what I am currently using and for those who are experienced, can use them or change them as they see fit. Let the adventures continue!
Back in 1994, the Home Brewery had a store in Bogota NJ. This was where we went to obtain a brew kit and equipment and get started. I found this kit to be very helpful in showing how beer is made (less the mash) as it had step by step clear instructions about making a basic brew.