First Time Homebrewer – Dan

Posted on March 14, 2011 by

Today we are going to talk with Dan about his first time homebrewing experiences and what his advice for anyone thinking of getting into the hobby!


I’m a graphic designer (and I work with Mike)

What is your name?


Where do you live?

Milwaukee, WI

Tell us a little about yourself. (married, children, pets, education, career, whatever you want to tell us)

I have an awesome job designing racecars and magazines (two different career paths, but there you go). I’m newly married and just moved to Milwaukee from Fargo, ND to push my career to the next level.

Do you have a blog? Tell us about it. (ex. name of it, why you decided to start it, what’s the blogs goal)

I have two blogs- and focuses on design and typography, is my newest venture into getting more people into running and where they can start.

What is your favorite style of beer?

I’ve always been a fan of thick, dark beer

There is almost always a story behind why you get started homebrewing. What’s your story?

I had the privilege of helping Mike with the technical side of getting Mike’s Brew Review up. Along with tagging along on a few brew days and seeing the costs of getting started, I was hooked pretty easily.

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?

Watch for boil-overs and make sure you at least start with a 4 or 5 gallon pot.

Before you started brewing where did you look for information in regards to your questions about brewing? (websites, books, clubs, friends, etc)

Simply to Mike- as I’ve watched him get this all started up, I had the opportunity to ask lots and lots of stupid (and sometimes smart) questions.

Did you start with a starter equipment kit or did you put something together yourself?

I purchased the Basic Kit from Northern Brewer

Was there anything unique about your initial equipment setup?


Your First Brew Day

What was your first recipe? (Extract, partial mash or all grain)

I did a kit from Northern Brewer- a Scottish 60-Schilling Ale. It came with about a pound of grain and extract.

Describe your first brew day, as much as you can remember. Were you nervous, did things go right, horribly wrong, forget something?

We had everything set up pretty well. I learned some good shortcuts here and there that really helped out as well. To be honest, I wasn’t so nervous until it came time to cooling the wort and realizing I didn’t have enough ice to cool it. Thus, the famous snow-shovel picture when I decided to snag some snow off the roof of my apartment.

Did your yeast start right of way or was it lazy, making you a nervous wreck?

As I recall, it took about 8 hours to start- and it went wild for a few days

Did you know what that hydrometer do-hicky did and how to use it?


Your First Bottling Day

What did you use to siphon your beer? Did it work?

Part of my home brewing kit included an auto-siphon. I can’t imagine how bad it would have sucked had I not had an auto siphon. So if you don’t- get one.

Describe your first bottling or kegging day. Everything go as planned?

Bottling was a little bit messy at the get go, but once we had a process down, it went very smoothly. I didn’t have as many bottles as I thought, so a few extras and a growler helped get me to the bottom of the fermenter.

Finally, Your BEER!

How long were you actually able to wait before you decided to open a beer and drink it?

I ended up waiting two and a half weeks before I opened the first one- looking back at how excited I was, I consider this a huge accomplishment on my part.

Was that beer good?

Yes! I really didn’t know what to expect, but the carbonation was good and it had a sweet flavor to it.

How did it make you feel to taste a beer that you brewed for the first time?

This was probably the best part for me- it was fun to know that I had the ability to take water and make beer.

Will you make beer again and what would you do differently?

I will be brewing more this summer! Plans include getting a secondary fermenter and a bigger pot for the stove.

What will be the first “toy” you’ll be adding to your brewing equipment setup?

I’m considering how to set up a wort chiller. I’ve looked at the one from Northern Brewer and it doesn’t seem all that difficult to set up at possibly a cheaper price. Besides the chiller, I would like to eventually move to a kegging system.

Do you already have dreams about taking your homebrewing beyond a hobby or are you satisfied with just making yourself some tasty brews?

For me, it’s going to remain a hobby. It’s something fun I can do with friends, kick back and relax with.

Do you have a beard? (Just taking a survey!)

I am unfortunately not as awesome as Mike. I’m just plain awesome.

Anything you’d like to add go right ahead and do it here!

The process of making my first beer was a lot of fun. Having gone through countless brewery tours (everything is a brewery in Milwaukee I think), I’ve learned about the process a million times or so. But it takes on a new level of fun when I can actually go home and do it myself. It’s given me a whole new appreciation for beer… not like I didn’t have one to begin with ;)

I’d like to personally thank Dan for participating in the First Time Homebrewer questionnaire! Thanks Dan! Do you have any plans to brew coming up?

Also, remember you can Get Started Brewing Extract Beer, just by following the link!

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