the third funnest thing about this way of life (hobby?) is reading and learning how other people solve problems and do things, then sharing that with others.
Agreed. After all this time one of my goals is to help new brewers realize that they can make excellent beer without a lot of extra equipment. All of this may seem a bit intimidating, complicated and expensive. If I were brewing on a smaller scale I'd just chill the pot in the sink with ice like I did when just starting out.
Well, except that the above cheap-n-simple approach requires a lot of muscle. Even lifting 3 gallons of wort in a kettle is a lot of oomph for me. After three and a half years, the part of the brewing process that I don't like is where I'm struggling with moving liquid: into the HLT, into the MT, into the kettle, into the cooling medium, into the fermenter, etc. I met other women homebrewers at a local event and it was one of the first topics we discussed. I do small batches whether I want to or not because moving 3 gallons of liquid is the outer limits of my capacity, and even that's clumsy and difficult.
My goal for summer 2013 (yes, next year) is to build an all-electric brew stand that could at least in theory be operated by someone with very limited lifting capacity and motor skills. Meanwhile, this year I'm pondering/testing/thinking about specific efficiencies that are not too expensive but can make brewing more fun and less of a hassle, even for the new brewer who doesn't want to sink lots of money into the hobby.