New member here! I have been lurking for a few weeks, and finally decided to join the fray.
A bit about me...I planted some grapes as a cover crop for some latice about 4 years ago, and this summer I had a bumper crop growing, so I thought "what the heck, I need to put these to good use!" So I got into making wine. I started with 1 gallon batches of Welch's grape juice concentrate, and apple concentrate to learn the process, then moved on to my home grown grapes, then mead, then cider, then more cider, by then the Welch's had turned out so well that the batches became 5 gallons. But something was still missing. The fact was that I had all of this equipment for wine, but I like beer a helluva lot better.
Two months ago I bought a 6 gallon bucket, 2 cases of Blatz beer with pop tops, and an American Amber extract kit. Done on the stovetop like most first brews, it went smooth thanks to my recent wine experiences. Still, I knew there had to be a better way, and I started eyeing up that 8 gallon SS turkey fryer in the garage that hasn't been used in 4 years. Off to the races! Three weeks later I had my first homebrew in my belly, an Oktoberfest in a secondary, Carmel Vanilla Cream Ale in the primary, Honey Brown Ale on deck, and my first AG experience in the dugout.
In my quest yesterday in finding parts to convert cooler to lauter, I learned one of my co-workers of 6 years is an AG brewer with a nice set-up, and we are doing a 10 gallon batch in a couple of weeks. Hopefully I can round up a second cooler shortly after, and my first solo AG batch will follow. I purchased a 5 gallon round cooler for a HLT, and am looking for a 10 gallon for my Lauter tun, but that is quite a task in December in Michigan's UP!
This forum has been very interesting, and I wish I had found it sooner. Many of the learning experiences I have been through are covered weekly here, and I could have saved myself from pouring through the brewing books that I have recently purchased in answering my questions, as well as all of the head scratching and indecision.
I hope that I have some knowledge and skills to contribute to the forum. With my wine and recent beer experience, I have merged some concepts from both schools. Also my Mechanical Engineering background and Six Sigma experience are coming in handy!
Thank you all for making this such a great place to be! I hope to get to know you all in the future, and learn from as many of your mistakes and successes as I can!