My first homebrew set was a Christmas gift from my parents more than ten years ago. It sat unused in a closet for about a year until I moved in with a friend whose excitement about the idea of brewing beer caused my to finally open up the box and start working on a first batch of beer. The brew equipment was your typical two bucket setup. We used a stockpot that I had to boil the beer. It only held a couple of gallons so we had to add water to the fermentation bucket to bring it up to five gallons. The beer itself was your average extract kit. It was some generic flavor and when it was ready to drink I loved it! No, it wasn’t even close to being the best beer I’d ever had, but it was the first beer I made and it was tasty and that right there got me hooked. Since then my diversity of equipment has grown. I added more buckets, then carboys, a bigger pot, beverage coolers turned in to a mash tun, an even bigger ported pot from Blichmann, and most recently a March 809 pump.
My main brew day setup currently consists of the Blichmann Boilmaker 10 gallon brew pot(which is also used to heat water for the hot liquor tank and for the mash), a 10 gallon Rubber Maid cooler that has been converted in to a mash tun. In theory I should be able to do a bit over 20lbs of grain in it. So far the most I’ve used with it was 17lbs for an IPA I have going. Right now I have a second 5 gallon cooler that serves as a hot liquor tank, but I’m probably going to replace that this summer with a 10 gallon one. I use glass carboys for my fermentations (6.5 gallon ones for primary fermentation which then gets racked over to 5 gallon carboys). When the beer is ready it gets put in to 5 gallon Cornelius kegs(old soda style kegs) where it then gets put in the kegerator to carbonate(forced carbonation) and to be served. Most of my beers take 3 to 4 weeks from the point I start the brew to the day I’m ready to drink them. Once I have all the plumbing I need I’ll be using the pump to transfer hot wort so that I don’t have to lift the heavy kettle to the stove. Everything is currently transferred via gravity so it involves a lot more lifting than I’d like to do.
It’s amazing how this hobby has grown in to quite a passion for me. I like the brewing process every bit as much as I do enjoying a good beer. I’ve had some times where many months pass between brew sessions, but I always come back to it. There’s still a lot more growth to do and things I can get to enhance my homebrew setup. It’s a great adventure and I look forward to the next chapter of it!