Mr. Beer to Mr. Ribbon

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Mr. Beer to Mr. Ribbon
The brewing community is well known as an accepting and receptive group of people, especially when it comes to new brewers. Unfortunately, some brewers feel stigmatized by the community based on how they get started with the hobby. If someone tells me that they just started brewing, I am very forthcoming with my beginnings, hoping that my lessons-learned will provide them with successful experiences.

Like So Many Other Accomplished Brewers Mr. Beer Was My First
Like many others, when I started brewing, I began with Mr. Beer. I found the brewing community around me to be very accepting and encouraging, but their willingness to help was sometimes overwhelming. However, the same feelings of encouragement can't be said for everyone's journey. I have heard stories of Local Home Brew Stores (LHBS) losing business before they could try to gain it. The clerks and owners seemed to have a bad attitude toward these kits, as if these kits were taking money away from them. My LHBS accepted my novice brewing abilities and encouraged my new found obsession. They knew, that eventually I would continue to grow and continue to purchase more items from them. They nurtured my new passion and helped me learn a solid process, because that is exactly what brewing is... a process.

A Welcoming Homebrew Community Helped Fuel My Passion
Picture a kid learning how to ride a bike; I needed training wheels. Mr. Beer was exactly that. Eventually, I took them off and moved from using hopped malt extracts (HMEs) to liquid malt extracts (LMEs) and dried malt extracts (DMEs), from extract brewing to partial mash brewing, and eventually to all grain brewing (AG). My evolution was fast, going from HMEs to AG within 6 months. In that time, I continued to use Mr. Beer fermenters and some kits. I lived in an apartment and did not have a lot of space or equipment, so the size of the Little Brown Kegs (LBKs) were very enticing to me.
My first batch as an AG brewer was amazing. Fortunately, I did not have many issues while learning to do a Brew In A Bag (BIAB) mash and boil, which was a victory in and of itself. I was eager for feedback and entered the beer into a competition. Luck would have it that I placed 3rd out of 37 beers (my first ribbon). Since this ribbon, I have received several more for various styles. I am not saying all of this to brag, or exclaim how awesome my beers are, but to open your mind. Whether it was a 5 gallon starter kit, Mr. Beer kit, or Brew Demon, everyone has to start somewhere and where they start should not matter.

Brewing With The Big Boys On Our Annual 'Big Brew' Day
National Home Brew Day, 2015, was a testament for me. Our Big Brew Day was hosted by Old Bust Head Brewery in Warrenton, VA. Brewers of all abilities showed up for some great camaraderie and to share their experiences. We had set-ups ranging from Mr. Beer brewing on a camp top stove to BIABs hanging from ladders to a HERMs set up. I was able to talk with brewers of all types and levels. I was even able to give some advice, and receive a little in return from those more advanced than I. I loved sharing my experiences with the Mr. Beer set up, as I reflected on when I first started. It was a great day for everyone involved and I tip my hat to Old Bust Head for making it such a great experience.

A Passion For Brewing Shared By All Brewers
To me, this is what the brewing community is about. I have spent many hours chatting on the with many guys who started out just like me. Some of them still use Mr. Beer and that works for them! My suggestion: help, encourage, and embrace these new, smaller, start-up kits instead of passing by or frowning upon them. The brewing community is growing at an unprecedented rate and a big part of that is due to those Christmas and Father's Day start up kits.
Dan is a frequent forum contributor and a long time member of the The Beer Borg where he goes under the name of 'D_Rabbit'.
I too started out with a Mr. Beer kit - I bought a kit back in college and then also got my brother's old LBK and bottles when he was done with it. I did several of their HME kits and they all turned out pretty good, but it was enough to get me addicted to the hobby and want to dive deeper into it. I still use the LBKs for doing small, 2-gallon batches and it works great. It is certainly a great stepping stone for someone who may be interested in the hobby, but isn't sure where to start or doesn't want to invest a lot of money up front. Sure, most people on here know that you can get into 5 gallon BIAB or extract cheaper than what Mr. Beer is charging - but when you are first starting out and you don't know a thing about brewing, $40 (current Amazon price) for a Mr. Beer kit + 2 gallons of beer is an attractive gateway to the hobby.
I too started brewing with Mr. Beer.
God that stuff sucked ...
But the fermentor (I have 2) is useful for testing small batches!
BIAB is my preferred method now.
Nice article Dan. We should support our brew brothers and sisters at every level. I'm another MrBeer veteran. I never managed any better than "okay" with their mixes. It did start my fascination with brewing and craft beer. I also used the LBK for my first grain batches. I still have a BrewDemon Conical for small batches, but I mostly uses buckets and a carboy.
Mr. Beer was my first as well. I still use the keg as a bottling bucket. I did 3 batches from it, and while none of them were outstanding compared to what I make today, they were good enough to keep me in the hobby.
I did have one Mr. Beer batch that tasted like cherry medicine though.
All grain now and I have Mr. Beer and my then girlfriend now wife to thank for the Mr. Beer.
Mr. Beer can be a good gateway to becoming a serious homebrewer. You'll either give up or (if you're like me) become more intrigued after your first Mr. Beer brew.
My first Mr. Beer brew (Oktoberfest, if I remember correctly!) was horrible! I think I drank 2 bottles and dumped the rest! But... my second brew, I did a lot of internet research, threw away the Mr. Beer "Booster" pack, used the Mr. Beer hopped extract, added some additional hops, and fermented with White Labs yeast. The beer came out good, and I was hooked!
Hats off to Old Bust Head for hosting what looks like a great event that embraced brewers at all levels!
This weekend will mark my first 5 gallon batch, and first batch beyond the Mr. Beer. I've found the HBT and other forums very friendly and welcome to teach not only how to make the best from Mr. Beer kits, but how to move up to the bigger and better brewing techniques.
Mr. Beer was a very inexpensive (I picked up the full kit for $20, with a couple $6 pickups for those that went to Goodwill). After 3 batches, I knew I wanted to stay in the hobby. I've spent a bit more on upgrading equipment, and now I'm ready to move up. It's an excellent entry level kit to get your feet wet and see if it's something you'll enjoy doing (sanitation, patience).
Nicely put. I started brewing before Mr. Beer was a thing and a friend of mine is getting into brewing in his apartment with Mr. Beer kits and makes some awesome beer!
I always liken brewing beer to making chicken soup. There are many ways to make chicken soup from opening a can and heating it up all the way to growing your own chickens and vegetables and starting with just water. There is a place for all the methods, just as in brewing there is a place for all the ways to make your beer.
I got a Mr. Beer kit from my sister-in-law for my birthday one year. She had gotten one for my brother a few months before and he had liked it, so she thought I might enjoy it too. I did 3-4 batches in the little brown kegs, before getting bit bad by the bug and moving straight to 5 gallon all-grain BIAB. I still have my little brown kegs. I've been thinking about doing some batch-splitting to try different yeasts/dry-hopping/etc and they should work great.
Nicely written article Dan, thank you for sharing. I'll admit Mr. Beer was my 'gateway' into brewing as well. Much of what I've learned about brewing I owe to the patience and understanding of more experienced brewers and it's a practice I still follow today.
My first alcoholic beverage was a hard cider, fermented from crabapples no body was using in my neighborhood. I then adapted the meager equipment I had to small extract brews with a partial mash. While still rudimentary after 2-1/2 years, due to space and budget restrictions, I have managed to move up to BIAB. Much of what I have been able to accomplish has been with the encouragement, advice, and help of HBT members! While I have found that there are a couple of threads where the gloves are off, all in good fun, there are rarely any serious issues. New members stumbling onto those threads could have their feelings hurt if they aren't informed pretty quickly. Aside from those couple of threads, as a moderator reminded us some time ago, we were all new at this once and everyone has different circumstances. It's our job to welcome newbies (as I still consider myself), to encourage them and help them when we can. Cheers!
That was a fun read. I never owned or used a Mr. Beer kit, but it sure seems like a gateway for many homebrewers. As a result, it should be appreciated by the homebrewing community.
I didn't start with a Mr beer but it was almost the same with a glass one gallon carboy. I got it this last Christmas and next week will be my first attempt at all grain BIAB and I'm so excited!! This forum has been priceless in the amount of info and how quickly your responded to. I can only hope that one day I can give back as much as I've learned and still learning. My lhbs is run by an amazing brewer who is extremely helpful so I lucked out there as well.
Great article Dan! Another MB vet here. Our journeys in this hobby are very similar. Cheers!!
Nice write up Dan! I got into home brewing with a gift of a Mr Beer home brewing kit my daughters gave me on Father's Day.
Nobody should be embarrassed by having started with the Little Brown Keg. It's as bad, or worse, than a gateway drug.
Really loved reading this article. It's fun to hear others express their passion for this hobby so eloquently. A real inspiration for prospective brewers. The enjoyment of the process throughout, from beginner to award winner leaps off the page/screen. Solid job. Thanks for the story. BTW: Huge congrats on the ribbons/medals. Display them with justifiable pride!
Thanks to everyone for reading and the kind words. This was fun for me to write up as my first attempt and has inspired me to keep working on some new things. Thanks again!
Daniel Roy
Great article. Someone gave me a Mr. Beer kit for Christmas, not knowing that I had been brewing off and on for a couple decades, and now I use LBKs for my 2.5 gallon all-grain batches. I think Mr. Beer is a perfectly acceptable way to get into homebrewing. Plus I've used a few cans of their extracts and made a couple decent beers using them as a base.