Until I graduated from
college and landed at my first job with Motorola in Scottsdale, AZ, I
had no idea that one could homebrew beer or that it was even legal.
There I met my buddy Paul. At first I thought it kind of strange that a
guy right out of college and living in an apartment was getting bottled
water delivered. Then I saw what he was doing with all those empty 5
gallon glass jugs! That brown gurgling mess sure looked gross but
the results were delicious. (Well, at least sometimes!) Homebrewing back
in 1980 was a dicey proposition. There were no beer supply stores on
every corner (next to Starbucks!) and brewing in the desert heat on a
shoe string budget was a challenge. Paul knew he stuff though. He had
gone to college in Boulder and actually took a homebrewing course from
beer god Charlie Papazian!
It took a few years of
drinking Paul's stuff to pique my interest in trying. Also, as he talked
about it, I began to realize (2nd credit to the internet) that getting
supplies and good quality ones was becoming much easier. My wife
gave me a homebrew kit fifteen Christmases back. It was to what I do now
like Folgers is to Starbucks, but it got me going. While that
first batch was brewing I bought and read Charlie Papazian's "The
Homebrewer's Companion" and then followed that with Dave Miller's
"Homebrewing Guide". Both books are highly
recommended. They made me realize that most of the directions in the
beer kit I had gotten were totally wrong relative to making good beer.
The results of that batch were drinkable, but barely. I made one more
"extract" batch ("instant beer") which was a noted
improvement. After that I switched to all-grain brewing. This is
like brewing your own coffee vs. instant. I've liked some batches better
than others but they've all been drinkable thanks to top notch
ingredients and good sanitation habits.
In spite of my comments
above, if you're interested in trying out homebrewing, starting with an
extract kit is fine. The one I got was pretty mediocre but the kit
business has improved greatly in the last couple of years. The current
starter kits are a bit more expensive than the one I got. However,
they're worth it in that all the components you get will still be usable
even if your interest takes you to greater heights. As a starting
place you can't do better than checking out the links below to Northern Brewing or Williams Brewing
mail order. Their on-line catalogs are excellent.
This has made me
thirsty. I'm heading to my basement beer tap to pull a cool, fresh
Howling Cat Brown Ale. Ahhh...refreshing!!!