1. Name (first and last), age, location
Denny Conn, 58, Noti OR
2. When did you start home brewing and why?
March of 1998. I'd been cooking as a hobby for over 35 years and a science geek, too. I had developed a love of good beer, and I love to do things myself. Brewing was a great way to combine all those passions.
3. How has your idea of home brewing changed since you started?
Not a lot, actually. I've found a lot of depth to the hobby, but I think I was expecting that to be there all the time.
4. Why should others who are interested in beer take up home brewing?
The pride of accomplishment and the fun of the process. It's almost a bonus that you get beer out out of it!
5. What are some good retailers (either shops or online) to purchase equipment/ingredients from and why?
There are too many to name names, becasue I'd probably leave some out. I started out shopping at my local homebrew shop (LHBS) and still prefer to buy as much as I can there. But I've also found some great online resources, too.
6. What kind of beer do you recommend for a first-time brewer? Any recipes that you can provide?
In general, it should be a combo of what they like and something simple, so that they can focus on the basics. Maybe a pale ale, a porter, or stout.
7. What are some good resources for home brewers?
When I started brewing, the #1 resource was "The New Complete Joy of Homebrewing" by AHA founder Charlie Papazian. Although the technical info in that book is a bit outdated now, it can't be beaten for its "can do" attitude and generally relaxed demeanor. Probably the best from a general technical point of view these days is John Palmer's "How to Brew". I'd recommend beginners have both of them. And internet forums like this one have come a long way in the years I've been brewing. They're a great place to ask questions and get answers from experienced brewers. If you have a homebrew club in your area, that's another great resource.
8. What is the number one mistake that new home brewers make? How can it be avoided?
Based on my own experience, I think the #1 mistake is not realizing how important the fermentation process is to the finished product. Most resources stress cleanliness and sanitation, and the recipe and actual brewing process itself. But all of that isn't worth much if you don't learn how to control the fermentation of the beer after it's brewed.
9. How can the growing interest in home brewing best be explained?
Economics has something to do with it...interest in homebrewing always rises during periods of economic downturn. But I think in large part it's also due to the same sort of interest that's contributing to the growth of things like locally produced foods and the slow food movement. People want quality products and they enjoy being able to produce them themselves and control what goes into them.
10. How can a beginning brewer make the leap to intermediate or advanced brewing?
Well, heck, that's not any harder than going from beginner to intermediate or advanced ANYTHING! Dedication, a love of the craft, and appreciation of the product are the incentives that make people take it to the next step. There is no shortage of information on how to do that.