I’ve long been a beer drinker. From the cheapest one could find in college, to the “microbrew” era beers like Pete’s Wicked Ale and Sam Adams Boston Ale. Eventually, I discovered Sierra Nevada on tap at the Black Cow in Hamilton, MA and realized what I was missing. That was likely in the mid-late ’90s.
I was gifted a Mr Beer kit from my wife on Christmas of 2010, and there was no looking back… (she likely regrets that gift!). Soon I moved on to 5 gallon extract batches, full-boils, yeast starters, and within a year, all-grain brewing.
I currently brew with a very basic set-up… a large rectangular cooler I converted to a mash-tun, an 8 gal stainless pot, buckets and carboys. In 2014 or 2015 I replaced the turkey fryer burner with a Blichmann burner. No fancy tiered brew system. Money goes into ingredients at this point. Temp control via a Johnson controller and a ferm-wrap for the cooler months, or large bucket with water during the summer.
In 2014 I got away from bottling and converted my folks’ old refrigerator into a kegerator with two taps. While bottles are nice to give out, or to bring along, the ease of begging a batch vs bottling greatly outweighs any plusses to bottles.
My main source of brewing information came from the Brewing Network podcasts. I also strongly recommend John Palmer’s “How To Brew” book or website, as well as Jamil Zainasheff’s “Brewing Classic Styles,” which offers recipes to award-winning homebrew in both extract and all-grain versions.