1. Why did you start homebrewing?
My boyfriend handed me a book called "Make Some Beer" while we were out and said "you like beer we should try this". He is sort of a prepper and is into homesteading and self sufficiency, while I'm more of a gadget geek but I do love DIY so this was fun for both of us. The funny part is he doesn't drink beer.
2. What's the most rewarding part?
When other people compliment your beer. My family is pretty honest so when they say it is good they aren't just saying that because it is mine.
3. What's the most challenging? Any horror stories?
The learning curve is challenging, making drinkable beer with the current kits and equipment is pretty darn easy, but as someone else mentioned the knowledge level goes up exponentially as the product improves.
I cringe when I spend a lot at the home brew store but only my checkbook thinks that is a horror story. I only have a few batches under my belt and luckily nothing has gone horribly wrong yet.
4. Do you find you don't go out to local breweries as much or are you still as likely to go out?
I think I started trying harder to find locals and explore styles. When I was younger I didn't think I liked beer because I only knew the major brands, and thought it all pretty much tasted like Bud Light. Once I discovered the different styles and all the other things that were going on I started trying to branch out. Now that I brew I look for different things I might not want to make a whole batch of until I have sampled, or something unique I might not be able to pull off at home. Whenever I go out I ask what local beers a place has even at chains (most carry something regional now, though once when I asked what the "craft on draft" option was at a major chain the waitress told me "Blue Moon, Bud, Bud light, Miller Light"
5. Any advice to first timers?
First just do it. Get a kit and make something drinkable then you will be hooked. Pick up books and learn but don't be overwhelmed by all the information and variables. Terminology, technology, and chemistry can wait until you get a handle on the basics. Keep really good notes (if you love something you want to be able to do it again), and when you start experimenting change one thing at a time (this is something I struggle with in general not just home brewing).
I didn't quote the other poster so I don't know who mentioned Church Brew Works, but my cousin lives in Pittsburgh and she takes people there every time they come in from out of town.