Hey beer lovers! I'm Jeff from the Minneapolis, MN area. I've been a foodie and craft beer lover for many years -- I'd rather have 1 good beer than 10 tasteless macrobrews. I was a Chemistry major in college, but ended up in the IT industry for the past 30+ years. A good friend is a BJCP judge and homebrewer and he has been on me to give it a go for years. I finally succumbed to his persuasiveness about a year ago.
I decided to stick to extract brews for my initial batches, to make sure I enjoyed it before I made big investments in gear. I'm glad I made that choice as I've learned a lot about the basic processes and my brew/bottle days have been steadily getting shorter and less chaotic. I've brewed 5 LME/Steeped Grain kits from Midwest Supplies so far and I've been very pleased with the results. I did have to recover from a poor fermentation, but with some research, I was still able to get a good product, which felt good and helped me gain perspective.
I don't really have a favorite style to brew, but my tastes run more to the malty side of the scale. I do like variety, so I tend to vary my drinking by season and mood. My first batch was a simple Brown Ale, as a relatively easy and forgiving brew. I brew intermittently and during warmer weather (see below and MN climatology). I try to make my brew days a social occasion, inviting friends (either brewers or not) over to kibbitz, drink a beer or two...and of course add some extra hands to the process.
Brew System: My first batch was done with a basic kit from Midwest Supplies. Having learned from cooking and DIY projects that good tools really do make a difference, I quickly invested in a 10Gal MegaPot 1.2 and I'm really glad I did. I brew on my driveway (wife doesn't want the malt smell in the house) using a turkey fryer burner I got for free. I built myself a counterflow chiller using plans from the Internet, after borrowing one from my friend and Beer Sensei. I've added plastic Big Mouth Bubblers for primary and secondary fermenters and I love those too (can you say easy cleaning?). I bottle in bombers to cut the number of bottles in half. Kegging is in my future when I redo my lower level and build in the bar with 2-4 taps.
Future plans: I'm planning to start all-grain brewing this summer, so I can have more control. Thinking about trying BIAB. At some point, I want to build a shed by my garage and include space for a permanent, heated, vented brewing space, so I can keep brewing year round up here in the frozen north.
I look forward to all the great info on the AHA site and in the forums. I appreciate all of your willingness to help and look forward to participating more as I build my skills. Cheers!