If there is a brew club in your area, go! Make the time. Tell your SO whatever you have to. Clubs are wonderful sources of learning and enthusiasm.
Yesterday was the first time I attended a brew club, Sparge, in Western MA (http://www.sparge.us/). In a nutshell, here is what I learned from the malt mavens of Western Massachusetts:
- Don't worry so much about equipment. You can create decent brews in any capacity.
- Everyone uses a different process and pursues different types. You fit in.
- Sanitize as best you can, but if an infection occurs...
- It is difficult to brew a really terrible beer. It may not be what you expected, but it will probably have intriguing aspects.
- RDWHAHB. Truly.
The attendees had a very wide range of experience, from a person who started distilling in the '50s to newbies like me who found a Mr. Beer kit on the curb a few months ago. From microbiologists to people that simply have an unused turkey fryer.
Each brew brought by an attendee was so was so very, very different it was impossible to decide on a best or worst. Mild English ales. Coffee flavored browns. Beers with hints of bourbon, honey, or gapes. An imperial stout aged several years, And a Sour
beer? You mean like it was infected on purpose
? Eeww! Um, wait, well, actually this is intriguing
. Definitely an acquired taste like bleu cheese.
What to expect at a club? A relaxed attitude and friendly people. Bring a small glass for tasting. Bring water to occasionally rinse between flavors. If you have had enough, stop, no penalty points. If you have a beer, bring it. I brought a Mr. Beer ale. So there. Even if you think it is atrocious you can get feedback on what went wrong. (or it might be exactly right and you don't like that style!) Some clubs have speakers. Some have joint projects too large for individual members. It varies as much as people do.
So find a club already. Go. Meet. Schmooze. And Relax, Don't Worry, etc