1. Name (first and last), age, location:
Jim Gress, 47, Cleveland, Ohio2. When did you start home brewing and why?
I started brewing in November of 2007 - sort of on a whim. I started because we had equipment for making wine that I got my wife, but she wasn't using it. I realized I only needed a couple more things (a pot and an immersion chiller) to get started with extract brewing, and that I could get them for less than the cost of doing a batch at the local brew-on-premise place. At that time, I enjoyed craft-brewed beers but often didn't even have beer in the house regularly. I got into home brewing mainly because it bothered me to see the fermenting equipment going unused. Things have sure changed in a couple years, though. Now, I have four different home-brewed beers on tap at all times, and usually have a Cornelius keg or two waiting to go on tap. 3. How has your idea of home brewing changed since you started?
My idea of what home brewing is hasn't changed much, but my approach to it has. At first, it was something fun to do occasionally. Now, I spend several hours a week on the hobby (some would say obsession). So much so that, upon meeting someone new, my family is more likely to tell someone I'm a home brewer than what my actual occupation is. I guess it's become more a "way of life" than a hobby for me. 4. Why should others who are interested in beer take up home brewing?
I think one gains a greater appreciation of beer and the process and ingredients that produce it. As well, there is a lot of interesting stuff to learn about different styles, brewing techniques, history, ingredients, etc. Home brewing is a great hobby for people who like to learn and experiment.5. What are some good retailers (either shops or online) to purchase equipment/ingredients from and why?
As others have already said, there are too many to mention - but I'll mention the two I use most often. Online, I use Northern Brewer because they have good selection of ingredients and equipment, and reasonable prices. They also host the forum through which I learned so much of what I know about home brewing from other forum users (thanks Denny, Majorvices, Mullerbrau, Brewhobby, Ryan, and many more). The LHBS I use most is Grape and Granary in Akron, Ohio. I go there because they have the best selection of fresh ingredients of any of the LHBS in my area, and they don't behave like snooty "know-it-alls." 6. What kind of beer do you recommend for a first-time brewer? Any recipes that you can provide?
I'd suggest that a new home brewer start off with an ingredient kit for an ale style they like - something like a Pale Ale, Stout, or ESB. As well, it is probably best to keep it simple with a style that doesn't require much in the way of special ingredients or techniques. That way, they can get familiar with the process, and have reasonable likelihood of good results with their first few batches. Like so many other things, early success fosters further interest.7. What are some good resources for home brewers?
Forums like this one are great resources for learning from more experienced (and expert) home brewers. There are also a host of classic home brewing books that have already been metioned. A local home brewers' club can also be a great resource for learning and for meeting other home brewers. Our home brewers club, the SNOBs, http://www.beersnobs.org/
hosts a variety of brewing-focused events, trips, social events, home brew contests, and even a study course for teh BJCP exam. 8. What is the number one mistake that new home brewers make? How can it be avoided?
Too many focus on the brewing and not the fermenting. Getting a handle on good, well-controlled, fermenting practices like proper yeast pitching rates and temperature control, is the key to making consistently good beer.9. How can the growing interest in home brewing best be explained?
I think more people are interested in foods and beverages because of the rise of the "foodie" culture and it's growing presence in the media (see Food Network, etc.). The steady rise of the craft brewing industry has had much to do with it as well. 10. How can a beginning brewer make the leap to intermediate or advanced brewing?
By using available resources like online forums, home brewers' clubs, books, magazines, and the like. Of course, sometimes there is a need for some new equipment, or to learn a new technique - but it's really just a matter of making up one's mind to give it a go. I moved from extract brewing to all-grain after only three batches.