I chuckle every time I read comments about brewing way back in the 90s. I remember a guy I worked with brought me a bomber of what he said was "Its a chocolate raspberry stout. Thats a German beer. Drink it warm" I chilled it. It was about as sweet as a milkshake, but grittier. I thought it was awesome. First real German beer I had ever tried. Edit: not counting Heineken
Yes, I drank more than a few "interesting" beers back in the nineties (interesting is the only polite way to describe these beers), but I have to say that I have tasted way more infected beer in the last few years than I did in the nineties, and that includes professionally brewed beer. I am also encountering more of what Denny refers to as "WTF was the brewer thinking" beers. I judged a beer that was entered as a special bitter that tasted just like wintergreen flavored toothpaste.
People coming into the hobby today have no idea of how good they have it. I became a yeast geek out of necessity. Dry yeast was unusable for the most part, White Labs did not exist, and the Wyeast culture collection contained less than a dozen strains that might as well have been unobtainium on East Coast. I started plating and slanting yeast because that was the only way that I could obtain a reliable source of clean yeast for the first year or two.
All-grain brewing was another hurdle. Home brewing supply shops tended to be small because they were in retail areas or someone's basement. For example, I started purchasing supplies from Maryland Homebrew (MDHB) when it was still being operated out of the basement of the owner's previous residence. The only grain being sold by the shop at that time was specialty grain. The owner sold mostly kit beers that came in cans and canned extract (does anyone remember Bruce's Dogbolter?). Things got a little better on the all-grain side when the owner quit his day gig and moved MDHB into commercial space. However, purchasing grain in bulk grain usually meant being part of a club purchase (my first big grain purchase was 220lbs as part of a BURP buy). It wasn't until MDHB moved to the industrial park where it currently resides (they used to be a couple of doors down) that the grain situation really improved for me. Anyone visiting the shop today has no idea of how humble things were in the early days.