Once you have the basics of this hobby down it wont be long before you start to feel the need for experimentation. The first step when starting your journey is listen to your inner self and ignore the rest. This may sound philosophical but unless the people you are speaking to are adventurous, their negative comments may hinder you from making your best brew ever. With brewing there is no limit to what you can do. Everything is based on YOUR TASTE, you are making this for you to drink. What you find interesting may be foul to someone else and visa-versa. If you like pumpkin, why not use it to make your beer? The easiest way to start experimenting is to make subtle additions to whatever you’re fermenting like hops or oak. This will help you figure out what you like and what you don’t. Once this is mastered then it’s time to roll up your sleeves and have some real fun!
A fair amount of people start out brewing as a way to save a bit of money. Some of them will fall in love with the process and turn their hobby into a full blown passion. Most of the greatest brewers and wine-makers in the world started off with a plastic bucket, a few ingredients, and an interest in brewing. Once bitten by the brewing bug they went outside the norm and experimented to make some of the best wine and beer on the market today. Making wine from berries or grapes is a great way to express your uniqueness. I’ve heard of all kinds of “crazy” combinations. Some of them may even make your stomach turn to imagine it. However when everything comes together the final result may be quite delightful. Personally, I feel the more complex the wine or beer the better it is. When people say it’s easier to tell me what’s not it their wine or beer that’s when my interest is really peaked. One of the best wines I had the privilege to sample was a Blueberry, Partridgeberry, Rhubarb, Plum, and Apple wine. The wine-maker called it the “Spring Freezer Wine.” Which brings me to an important issue. No matter what you make—take notes. It’s frustrating when you make a magnificent beer or wine but you have no idea how to replicate it.
Now for my passion. Beer making. I know I may sound a bit bias but I find brewers show a lot more hard-core passion for their hobby than winemakers. To non-brewers I’m sure we must sound like a bunch of crazy people. We get excited about the new Apple Brown Ale or the awesome Belgian Saison that we just conjured up. Getting up early Saturday morning to get the brew going. Smelling the freshly milled grain steeping away in the mash-tun omitting the aromas of coffee and caramel throughout the brewing area. Then the boiling and the intoxicating aroma of hops permeating the house. Ahhhh, I feel there is nothing better in this world. You also have so much selection. What yeast will you use? How about hops? Which one will complement the other while not overpowering the grain bill? The sky is truly the limit. Like I stated above, make what you want and don’t listen to others. It’s your brew.
Be it wine or beer, there is no wrong process. Each brewer will find a way that works for them. Fermented beverages have brought people together for centuries. Be it a bar, party or what not. Brewing is a more enjoyable hobby/passion when shared with others. Why not go out and start a brewing group with your friends or join a club to meet other like-minded people? As I stated before brewing is much more then a hobby. it’s a form of entertainment and socialization. So I hope that this will inspire you to think outside the box and maybe you’ll make the world’s next great brew. Your brew!