First Time Homebrewer – Anthony
Posted on February 9, 2011 by mike
What is your name?
Where do you live?
Tell us a little about yourself. (married, children, pets, education, career, whatever you want to tell us)
Oldest of four children, single, veteran of two tours in Iraq (2005-2006 and 2007-2008), mechanical engineering student. Guitarist since the age of 5 (26 now). Motorcycle enthusiast. Photographer.
Yes, blog.ajmartinez.com “A Look Inside” – I started writing it as a means to provide updates to my family/friends while I was in the Army. Rather than keep track of a mailing list, I just wrote the sorts of things you might write in a giant mass-email and figured anyone who cared enough to read could just click the link. I ended up using it as a way to share my thoughts on pretty much anything and everything.
What is your favorite style of beer?
I’m somewhat partial to Belgian Trappist Ales, though I’m increasingly becoming a fan of IPAs as well.
There is almost always a story behind why you get started homebrewing. What’s your story?
I developed a taste for craft brews while serving in the United States Army (2003-2008), mostly as a means to keep my soldiers from drinking my beer. A fridge full of BMC would be pilfered in short order, but beer with “strange” colors, aromas, and an actual flavor would be left alone. When I got out of the Army, I started frequenting the Ginger Man (a bar with lots and lots of different beers on draught) because most of my friends work there. That led to me meeting important people within several of Texas’ microbreweries. Talk of brewing was common, and I loved their beers, so I figured I would have to give it a shot.
For the Prospective Brewer
If there was one piece of advice you’d like to pass on to a prospective homebrewer, what would it be?
Above all else, make sure you have fun. Pay attention to detail, develop a routine – but always have fun.
Before you started brewing where did you look for information in regards to your questions about brewing? (websites, books, clubs, friends, etc)
Did you start with a starter equipment kit or did you put something together yourself?
My parents actually bought me a Mr. Beer kit for Christmas, from there I ended up buying equipment off another brewer who was moving and did not want to pack up all of her stuff. Now I’ve got the Mr. Beer, 2x 6.5gal fermentation buckets, 2x 5gal glass carboys, 2x 1gal glass carboys, 1x 6.5gal bottling bucket, 1x copper immersion wort chiller, lots and lots of bottles, 1x 2L growler, 2x hydrometers, 2x thermometers, 1x 10.5gal aluminum boil kettle, 1x propane jet burner, 1x big ol’ spoon, 2x large plastic storage containers I’m using as temperature control for my fermentation until I can build a fermentation locker, 1x keezer setup with 2x faucets and 2x 5gal corny kegs and a picnic tap conversion for filling bottles from the keg.
Was there anything unique about your initial equipment setup?
Your First Brew Day
What was your first recipe? (Extract, partial mash or all grain)
Mr. Beer’s West Coast Pale Ale (hopped liquid malt extract)
Describe your first brew day, as much as you can remember. Were you nervous, did things go right, horribly wrong, forget something?
I was definitely nervous, after reading all of the CAUTION tales on homebrewtalk regarding sanitization and all of that. All in all, the brew day went fine. I followed the directions that came with the Mr. Beer kit, and locked it away in my closet.
Did your yeast start right of way or was it lazy, making you a nervous wreck?
I could not really see any yeast activity for a while, so I was certainly nervous for a day or four. Then I saw the krausen on top and got pretty excited.
Did you know what that hydrometer do-hicky did and how to use it?
I did not have one when I started my first brew, I purchased one before I declared fermentation complete on that beer.
Your First Bottling Day
What did you use to siphon your beer? Did it work?
I actually poured it out of the spigot on the Mr. Beer fermenter. It took a LONG time. It worked, but it illustrated to me the dire need for an auto-siphon.
Describe your first bottling or kegging day. Everything go as planned?
Bottling was a lot easier on the Mr. Beer brew than my next, mostly on account of the volume. Bottling a full 5gal batch was enough to turn me onto kegging.
Finally, Your BEER!
How long were you actually able to wait before you decided to open a beer and drink it?
I started the Mr. Beer kit on December 27, 2009 and poured my first bottle of it on January 27, 2010.
Was that beer good?
I was pleased with the results, for sure. No hop character to speak of, but I enjoyed the beer. So did my friends. We drank it very quickly.
How did it make you feel to taste a beer that you brewed for the first time?
See above link.
Will you make beer again and what would you do differently?
I fully intend to brew beer again, and again, and again. Right now I am still brewing extract, but I intend to move to all-grain over the summer if at all possible.
What will be the first “toy” you’ll be adding to your brewing equipment setup?
My next brewing toy will quite probably be a fermentation locker, so I can control my fermentation temperature better. Right now I’m using a large plastic bin with about 3gal of water in it and a towel wrapped around my bucket/carboy to wick up the water and keep the temperature stable. Works quite well so far, but isn’t really the ideal location. (Read: Mom isn’t happy about me taking up an entire closet.) After that, it’s on to my brewstand. I’ll be building a single-tier system with a pulley/wench system to elevate any given stage to facilitate gravity transfers of water/wort.
Do you already have dreams about taking your homebrewing beyond a hobby or are you satisfied with just making yourself some tasty brews?
People have always said to find something you love, and the find a way to get paid to do it. I love brewing, and I love beer. If the opportunity comes for me to be able to work as a brewer, I will absolutely take it.
Do you have a beard? (Just taking a survey!)
At the moment, yes I do.
I know Anthony has grown his system since this interview. I think he’s got a keezer and some kegs now. (Jealous) I’d like to personally thank Anthony for participating in the First Time Homebrewer questionnaire! Thanks Anthony!
Also, remember you can Get Started Brewing Extract Beer, just by following the link!