After a very long wait, I finally committed to homebrewing in the beginning of 2008. It’s something I’ve been interested in for a long time but I always felt that the initial investment was too high. After a bit of luck, I ended up with some rudimentary brewing equipment (carboy, old brushes, some tubing and the like) and began researching the process.
I sped through John Palmer’s excellent online book, How to Brew. Most of it didn’t make a lot of sense to me but I launched into my first brew anyway using some stainless steel pots on my kitchen stove. The end result was a rather undrinkable porter. Undaunted, I took on a stout recipe that would have turned out rather nicely had it completed the fermentation process. Alas, it too was rather undrinkable. Both of these failures remain in the bottles in the extra room awaiting some unknown fate (probably the drain of the kitchen sink).
I decided that two rather spendy upgrades were in order: a proper set of brewing equipment and a kegerator. The brewing equipment was a complete set from Steinbart and the kegerator consists of a small fridge purchased on Craigslist and some five gallon kegs, faucets, hoses and a CO2 cylinder. If I was going to fail at making beer at least I could do so with somewhat less effort. Bottling beer is for suckers.
I’ve since had a few brews that came out very well and one or two that didn’t quite ferment as they should but at long last I’m no longer buying beer at the store. I’m buying ingredients to make beer at half the cost (or less) of off-the-shelf microbrews and putting a little of my own time into the process. I enjoy cooking and brewing beer is a lot like making a good soup, except at the end you add the yeast and let it finish the job for you.