Author Topic: Starting my Homebrewing Experience  (Read 4597 times)

Offline Steve

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Starting my Homebrewing Experience
« on: August 07, 2010, 04:43:43 pm »
I began home brewing in 1991 while I was teaching at Southampton College in Southampton, NY.  In my night time Technical Theater class two of the seniors started to talk about how good a beer would taste after cleaning up the studio.  We began to discuss the beer we drank and the qualities that made it our favorite.  They discussed with me about how they started making beer in their dorm room after a bio class experiment and how good it tasted and how cheap it was to make.  After showing my wide eyed interest in their beer making, they asked me if I wanted to try some of their beer. I said, "Sure!" To the following week's class they brought in some bottled dorm brewed beer. After class and cleaning up the studio, we shared a few bottles surreptitiously in the parking lot.  I was amazed that the flavor was so good coming from a kit brewed in a cinder block dorm room.  While drinking their beer, they described the liquid malt extract and the sanitation process to me.  They said that fermentation was easy. It was boiling three gallons in their dorm late at night on a hot plate that was the hardest part.

Some two months after the term ended I was at one of those "new fangled" warehouse club and I spotted three Billington's Homebrew Kits on the shelf.  Each kit included one 3.3 pound can of Coopers hopped "Lager" ale extract, a five gallon glass carboy, a package of dried ale yeast, a bottle capper, caps and an instruction booklet. This kit cost $35.00. One like that cost $129.00 today.  "Well," I said to myself.  "If two bio students can do it in a dorm, so can I!"  I bought the kit.  When I got home, I began to brew my first batch by reading the instruction booklet that came with the kit.  Those instructions contradicted those in the ingredient kit.  So I went with the equipment kit booklet.  It was more complete and coherent.  I began boiling the water... adding the extract... boiling the brew, what I now know of as wort, ...cooling it down... adding it to cool water... proofing and pitching the dried yeast.  Later that night I sat next to the fermenter watching and listening to the bubbles coming from the airlock as if it were a television.  Apparently I was hooked and I needed more knowledge.

A few weeks later, I found Arbor Wine and Beermaking, a homebrew shop in Islip, NY, about an hour west from my home.  Homebrew shops were far and between in the early 90's, especially in a small town like mine.  The trek was worth the time to enhance my new passion.  Jim and Carol Whitley, the owners, and I chatted for quite a while.  Jim introduced me to Charlie Papazian's book The Complete Joy of Homebrewing (1st Ed.), which still sits on my shelf today all dog eared and stained.  And after a considerable chin wag, I found out that Jim knew my dad’s family’s and their hardware store when he was a kid.  

I was hooked for good. Thanks Charlie! Thanks Jim! Thanks to the those two students!

Many years and numerous recipes have been made and enjoyed since my first exposure to homebrewing. Despite living in various cities with an assortment of varied sized kitchen spaces, I have continued to be a passionate zymurgist and beer lover ever since.  I've combined my love for cooking and brewing: trying new and various recipes, which has brought me a greater appreciation for craft brewed and commercially brewed beer of all types.  I've also begun growing my own hops and writing about my process on my website
  "Because beer is food: in cooking, at the table and by the glass. " Lucy Saunders

Offline euge

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Re: Starting my Homebrewing Experience
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2010, 06:42:53 pm »
Welcome to AHA!

I started brewing in 93'ish after I fell in with a group of craft-beer drinking college kids in Austin. Took a long hiatus and in spring 07 got back into what some of us fondly call "The Obsession".

Brewed hard and heavy since then. Amazing what one can produce in the kitchen with very little effort, equipment and even knowledge... ;)
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