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General Category => Homebrewer Bios => Topic started by: Tim Johnson on November 25, 2017, 11:38:17 PM

Title: Forty-Five Years So Far
Post by: Tim Johnson on November 25, 2017, 11:38:17 PM
I started brewing in 1972 or maybe late 1971 in Kodiak Alaska while living in a log cabin with neither electricity nor running water. Brewing wasn't legal those days, but cops had bigger fish to fry. Ingredients for 5 gallons: 1 pack Red Star baking yeast. One 3-lb can of Blue Ribbon malt extract (unhopped, for cooking purposes only - wink-wink, nudge-nudge) one 5-lb bag of cane sugar. Equipment - one five-gallon former log oil bucket - for bottling: funnel, pitcher, dipper, little priming sugar. Bottles were easy to scrounge in an area where many folks drank like fish. Usually drank within a month of bottling. By 1980 I had refined my methods a bit but no big change in recipes. And was living with electricity and running water. (Party-line phone). A guest sampled my brew and made a statement that is probably the pinnacle of tact: "This is very excellent given the methods you used." And the next day he stopped by with two books. Home Brewed Beers and Stouts by C.J.J. Berry and Brewing Better Beers by Ken Shales. Later, I purchased Dave Line's Brewing Beers Like Those You Buy. By this time, I was living just 50 miles from the big town of Anchorage and Alaska Mill and Feed had a pretty good selection of good brewing supplies. The rest is history.
Title: Re: Forty-Five Years So Far
Post by: beerlord on November 26, 2017, 12:09:23 AM
I must tell you how cool I think your brewing history is.  Definitely fits the "where there's a will, there's a way".
Title: Re: Forty-Five Years So Far
Post by: HoosierBrew on November 26, 2017, 12:14:20 AM
Cool story, Tim!  I've been at it since '92 and definitely remember the days of lesser ingredients and limited info, but you have me beat by a good stretch. Cheers.
Title: Re: Forty-Five Years So Far
Post by: Tim Johnson on November 26, 2017, 12:33:51 AM
I recall using Edme Superflavex for some of the earlier brews that followed more palatable recipes. I was quite happy with it. I've done some "googling" to check for its availability, but I think it is now longer being manufactured. Love to find some to do a "retro" brew. :) Can't find Blue Ribbon Malt at Walmart either. Good times, good times ...
Title: Re: Forty-Five Years So Far
Post by: Wilbur on November 29, 2017, 03:25:54 AM
I'm definitely on the other half of the spectrum in starts...it's kind of hard to imagine. I used to live in a similar situation, log cabin from the early 1900's, wood burning stove. How'd cooking go? Propane? Wood burning? I lived in a different cabin (~10k elevation) with a propane fridge (weird to think about). Cold nights the eggs would freeze. Made breakfast a little tricky. Awesome start to brewing, I'd love to hear about Alaska back then. So few places are still "wild" or frontier.
Title: Re: Forty-Five Years So Far
Post by: Tim Johnson on November 29, 2017, 05:18:47 AM
Wilbur - I recall that at first there was just a camp stove for cooking and a converted 50-gallon barrel for wood heat. Storage was, umm ... creative. Later, as you guessed, a propane cook stove and fridge was installed.

BTW: I grew up on a second generation homestead in North Dakota. My grandmother lived in a different house on the grounds with an elaborate wood (and cow-chip) fired range, a fancy pot-bellied coal stove and a well-appointed root cellar. Root cellars could and did work very well. After 1940 or so when the REA brought in Electrical drops, an extension cord was run from the drop into her house with a couple of outlets. Been a lot of changes ... There still are "homestead" like places in Alaska and also in many rural areas in the contiguous 48 states and Hawaii. Not just "back to the earth" hippies, but resourceful folks who like life simple. Cheers