Is Home Brewing Ever Easy

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Is homebrewing ever easy? In short, yes and no. When I first started thinking about brewing beer I felt unsure at first if I had the skills it would take to be successful. It seemed that somehow I had adopted the assumption that brewing beer was simply too hard. I thought that the brewing equipment required would cost thousands of dollars and I would never have enough space or time to devote to my new passion. Luckily my wonderful wife thought I was capable of the task and purchased a starter kit for my birthday. This was probably to keep me from talking about brewing beer every day, which had gone on for about a month straight. I've been hooked ever since.
I started off probably like most with an extract kit (Irish Red to be specific), an inexpensive 5-gallon kettle on my stove top, and a back deck full of snow as a wort chiller. It was not exactly the worst set up I've seen, and it did actually produce a drinkable beer. I have since moved beyond the tiny upper level duplex and have now taken over a brew lab in the basement of the house we purchased back in 2013. No more fluctuating fermentation temps, as one will experience when fermenting in a closet. That actually worked pretty well until I did my first Hefeweizen.
Some where between 12 and 16 hours after pitching yeast, the krausen got stuck and clogged the air lock. The pressure eventually built up so much that when it finally blew, it erupted a thick mixture all over my dress clothes, the inside of the door, ceiling, and pretty much everything else that was in there. I still have a shirt that has the faint smell of yeast, clove, and bananas. Needless to say, blow off tubes are now used in every primary.

Here is this year's combination of Columbus, Magnum, Nugget and Chinook. I think next year I will do a better job of separating them

Around the time I noticed my ability to start really tasting beer (I had been a Michelob Golden Lite-only kind of guy up until that point, or a Heineken if I was feeling adventurous), I began feeling the urge to brew my own. New flavors like Fat Tire or Bell's Two Hearted were almost too bitter for me, but now I can definitely taste that pronounced malty flavor with a bitter end that had previously escaped my taste buds. I was certainly reprogrammed after my first home brew session. Other IPAs, Porters, and Pilsners began to come to light as I was becoming more conscientious of beer and all its complexities.
Again, I really owe all of this to my wife for getting me started. She probably regrets it a little, as it can sometimes consume an entire weekend which, in her words, "could be better spent fixing things around the house". Brewing brings relaxation for me in the midst of a busy life with three children. The great part about the kids is the two eldest help me harvest the 12 hop vines that are now in their third season of growing. They are well established and somewhat out of control. Maybe next year I can train them a little better; the hops that is, not the kids. They are still a work in progress.

Chiller A/C unit, FTSs 7-gallon Conical Fermenter, and control station
I brewed just over 30 extract batches before attending a class on sugars and later a class on all-grain brewing, both offered for free at my local homebrew store. With a good knowledge base of basic brewing and the newly acquired supporting information on how malt is turned first into fermentable sugar and then into beer, I had plenty of confidence to step up the process and go all-grain. I purchased a 10-gallon kettle, two 10-gallon coolers (mash tun and hot liquor tank), a steelhead pump, and even an old window air conditioning unit which I converted into a glycol chiller using plans that I found on HomeBrewTalk (it was an article by David M. Kucko). I have paired the chiller with a 7-gallon SS Brew Tech FTSs Chronical system with internal chiller and a Johnson A419 temperature controller for the A/C unit.

This should be enough gear to get me into trouble. Now to just find the right time to start brewing.
So is brewing easy? It can be. The willingness to experiment and fail only to try it again is all it really takes. Kids, no kids, house or small corner, home brewing is a craft that I think can almost be done anywhere. My ultimate goal, and I encourage others to do so, is to enter at least one beer in a beer competitions to just see what's out there and learn from others.
I started Home Brewing in the spring of 2012. I had heard an ad on the local radio (The Current 89.3 FM) that showcased a special offer from Northern Brewer and finally I decided to look on their website. Shortly after, I ordered the catalog and started dreaming, while questioning myself and my ability to brew my own. Now a few years later, I'm ready to switch from extract brewing to all-grain; first brew session Labor Day 2015.//
I find that it's not really "easy", but once you have your system nailed down it becomes more relaxing and comfortably predictable (as long as you don't make a critical mistake).
Those are very impressive hop plants. Can't wait to move into a house and grow my own as well.
On a whim a buddy signed us up for a home brewing class and I spent over $400 before we left. I already knew it was going to be my next addiction. After a year of extract brewing I was getting a little bored so after minimal research I got interested in AG. Went and loaded up on gear for that. Now my obsession is getting away from bottles and into Kegging. Should be doing that starting sometime in October. I'm lucky because my wife says she'd rather I spend money on brew equipment then at the bar and leaving $1bills in the G-strings.......
My wife is also the cause of my endless desire to brew great beers, hard ciders, and applejack. I received a starter kit for Christmas 3 years ago and have never looked back.
I can't say whether homebrewing is either easy or hard because depending on what I'm doing it can be both. However I agree with other posters that having a spouse who supports your brewing, in my case for almost 25 years, has made it a lot more fun.
Just did my first AG batch yesterday. It was great, I'm excited, but it wasn't easy...and I thought through a lot of stuff beforehand, too (unlike my first batch ever!).
That being said, Yes, we have great technology, tools and information that we've never had before. I can't imagine brewing just a few years prior without an autosiphon or StarSan or PBW or great online forums....
Newer brewer here...must be getting serious about it. I was invited to go shoot Sporting Clays (for free) and I turned it down because I had a brew day planned. Wife asked if I felt OK...was I depressed?...think I should go to the doctor? She was worried because I never turn down a chance to go shoot! This is fun stuff and you can drink what you make....never could get a clay bird to taste worth a hoot.
For myself, the end result is the promise of better beer. That's why I go through the trouble of doing things that make my process more complicated. In the end, it's one of the most rewarding hobbies I know of. It's like the ocean... nature's simple pleasure, and it is good.
Like many things, the dirty little secret is that with some planning, the right tools, focus on the details, and practice, it's not all that hard. It does take time and patience, though.
"We do not do these things because they are easy; we do them because they are hard." -JFK
For me, brewing is about mastering a complicated process. I try to keep it relatively old-school. I don't think I would enjoy it nearly as much if I just bought an automated system and pushed buttons.
I haven't been brewing long, just since february, and only a half dozen AG batches, but for me it is never hard. There have been moments of calamity, and plenty of sheer exhaustion at 2 in the morning beginning clean up. But I love it still, so it's never hard. I guess I'm still in that honeymoon phase like with a lover. How long do I have?
I've been brewing with extract and some partial for the last 2 years. I had a buddy I would brew with, or I would have a curious friend help. I'm moving in with my SO and he asked if he could brew a beer with me. He likes the idea that we can make a clone of his favorite beers. I did warn him though, it is an all day task!
I get asked this question the most, I always tell them that its easy, but can be as difficult as you want. It doesnt take much to make decent beer miles better than any BCM. But it can be made as complicated that one could have majors in chemestry, biology, agriculture and engenieering and still not have the beer come out as we intended
I find that its just now, after 5 or 6 years (6-10 brews per year), becoming easy. For the first 4 or 5 years, it seemed like there was a disaster every brew day, but as I got better equipment and parts of the process became second nature, it became easier.
I've been brewing for a couple years now and I must say that home brewing is far from easy. The amount of things that can go wrong from creating a batch a beer are almost endless!
Brewing can be easy if you have a lot of money to throw at it. But for myself, I find it a challenge. Everything from calculating grains, equipment and water temperature and quantity, mash temperature, Hop variety and scheduling. How much yeast to add, fermentation temperature, sanitizing. Beer is a craft with a lot of math involved!
I've never had a batch go bad but I sure did produce several batches with off-flavors.
well said!
The more I brew the more I'm tempted at throwing my money at an automated system to eliminate the risk associated when brewing manually. I'm on my 3rd bad batch in a row and I'm starting to think that it would be cheaper to just buy kegs of craft beer from my local brewer....
A couple of buddies and I started home brewing and have taken things to the next step and created a patented All Grain Brewing Platform (The wives didn't take well to us taking up the whole kitchen!) which we are raising money, via Kickstarter, to sell Q2 of 2016. (Check us out - Now, we barely have any time to brew and enjoy it! Hopefully one day again soon! Until then cheers everyone!
@murphyslaw You know what they say (whoever they are), that you can learn much more from your mistakes than you do from your successes. Successes are just the positive reinforcement that you are doing it right......or that you got lucky with that particular batch.
Thanks Everyone for your comments and taking the time to read the article. I have since completed my first AG brew day.....NOT EASY!! But I have managed to eliminate mistakes (a stuck sparge that was stubborn to fix) and made an actually good tasting brew, a little light on the body, but mash temp control should solve that.
Keep brewing and keep the community strong!!