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When, why and at what age did you start home brewing / home distilling?

When, why and at what age did you start your hobby? I am curious to read your anwers. For pure scientific reasons only ;) :D

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  • edited June 2014

    Started about a decade ago only because I wanted 90%+ ethanol for other hobbies. But then I started drinking it and it was a slippery slope from there :)

    Same with beer really. My first beer I ever brewed was AG. My LHBS thought I was an idiot because I didn't want to do a kit first. It was the best beer I have ever brewed to this day :)
    How about you Sunshine?

  • edited June 2014

    well, about that... ;)
    we started our interest for home distilling about 1,5 years ago...we did the MOB seminar this year (Masters of Booze) and a few tasting seminars since then.

    StillDragon Europe - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Europe & the surrounding area

  • 3rd year.. 1st 18 months was nothing but reading and study...Then, small tabletop proof of concepts.... Why? I can't be a geek forever, and it's a wonderful skill to have and it's scientific.. Two things near and dear...

    I hardly ever used to drink, but after travelling for the company, I grew an appreciation for flavor from around the globe.. not to mention the disinfecting properties it provided when in places not quite as sanitary as I was accustomed to... It was a joy being able to eat whatever I wanted and douse it with the local scotch, or from a trusty flask I kept topped off with Bushmills Black Bush to keep any local nasties at bay..

    When I grow up, some day I would like to go semi-pro or maybe even pro, but that's the future. In this day and age one has to typically have several careers to sustain...And there's a shitload to learn and consider/get funded before the idea of becoming pro can be real...

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    The only sillae question is the one you don't ask folks...

  • Thanks guys for your comments!

    so, please tell me more...can the others chime in, too?

    @DistilliTrak: it has become a profession for you somehow - even if your not selling booze!

    For me, discovering SD has literally changed my life. We want to be pro distillers someday too, in the moment we are stuck in our environment but we are searching for a new home, where all of this is possible!

    StillDragon Europe - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Europe & the surrounding area

  • i started 7 or 8 years ago i think. I have been brewing beer for over 30 years and Bourbon Girls son had married into a Macedonian family that made Grappa. After giving me a bottle each time i saw him, the new father one day said Ï'll teach you how to make it instead of giving it to you".

    I never did get around to grappa, but i've distilled a lot for family and friends since then.

    I'm a beer drinker and rarely drink any spirits nowadays.

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • Started washing demijohns for a friend of the family when I was 8, during school holidays. I suppose I was given the first batch of grape juice to ferment on my own, a year or so later. Been making wine ever since.

  • I have been brewing beer for 10 years, a hobby I inherited from my pop. I see distilling as a natural extension of brewing and love the technical aspect of distilling and the science behind it. I also get to spend a good chunk of time in my garage tinkering, this is great as it keeps me married ;)

  • made lots and lots of beer since 2003, made a few batches of 'bad' beer but did nto have the heart to throw it away... visited stranahan's in '05 and saw them explain how they take unhopped horn dog barleywine wash, ferment it and run it through this copper thing that said vendome on it, put it in a barrel for 2 years and charge $60/bottle for it... I was hooked... bought a PDA-1 in June of '06 and played/tweaked it for years... was about to build a 4" flute and saw stilldragon dash-1....

  • Use to a case or two of some homemade from NC every year when my Bro inlaw would come back to the north after winter, then the producer died so, I figured I would try my hand at it 4 yrs ago!

    It is what you make it!

  • Read a book called Foxfire when I was 17 or 18. It had step by step directions for making a huge still, also how to skin a hog and build a log cabin. I didn't act on it but couldn't ever get the idea out of my head that a private citizen could actually make their own whiskey. Fast forward to age 34 and a bother-in-law had a small 5 gallon pot still hidden in his attic. He knew nothing about making cuts and the product that we made was absolutely horrible. That put an end to my distilling for the next decade or so.
    Then the internet thing came into fashion and I stumbled onto a site where a guy built a reflux column and mounted it to a milk can. For the life of me, I couldn't seem to get my hands on a milk can. I guess the year was either 2004 or 2005.
    More internet searching discovered Tony Ackland's distilling website (the precursor of HD) and I set about memorizing his site.
    About then, I searched eBay and found a used 2" copper reflux still that came with a keg and bought it. Every possible distilling mistake that could be made I quickly mastered. It would be quite some time before I crafted acceptable booze.

    And after so many runs, I'm still fascinated with the entire process. I'm still mesmerized as I watch the product flow from my parrot.

  • Made a batch of beer at about 22 years old, was disgusting crap, undrinkable and straight in the bin after trying to finish one glass. Gave the beer kit to my old man to use. Next 25 years just bought beer and scotch.

    4 years ago my wife talked me into changing careers and moving to a small country town to "slow down and enjoy a better lifestyle", this was also with a promise of a bottle of my favourite scotch every Friday night and plenty of sex..... fast forward 6 months and everything slows down to crawl....

    ..bought a cheapish 2" copper CM still to start to make a bit of grog to to see if it would be ok. Upgraded to SD 4" 12 mths later.

    Now I have something decent to drink, so the first part the missus reneged on takes care of itself, still trying to work out the second part !!!!

    So started once at 22, then again at 48 and lovin it.


  • Got a couple of home brew bottles from a mate when i was about 21 and into the binge drinking thing. That was my first experience with 'home brew'. Probably 4 years ago i started reading HD about home brewing and kept reading and reading and reading and was so close to buying a t500 and then threw it in the 2 hard basket.

    Fast forward to 18 months ago, started reading again and bit the bullet and just got into it. Bug hasn't left and don't think it will anytime soon. Get a bit slack with brewing time but doesn't mean i'm not thinking about trying different things.

  • Reread the OP,started at the age of 46!

    It is what you make it!

  • @bentstick said: Reread the OP,started at the age of 46!

    That's about the age I got obsessed too, Bent.

  • edited June 2014

    Have it right @Lloyd, obsessed not started! Wife also enjoys this hobby so all is copacetic in the home!

    It is what you make it!

  • started making beer with my now bro inlaw at 14, was pretty much the worst crap anyone could have tasted but it sold well at school... took a break for about 16 years and was then forced back into it as I was almost broke after the then missus decided she wanted half of everything !! and I could not afford to buy the amount of booze that seemed to be required to drink in a week to drown her out of my head.

    At the same time the old man had a mate that past away from the big C, he had a super reflux still which his wife had no idea how to operate so I bought it off her, figured out about a month after that - that the product was not the best (tasted more like meths - even with cuts) so decided to make a valved refulx still (How to make a world class home distillation apparatus), that has served me very well for the past 10 years ish before I made the jump to a 4" Dash 2.

  • @MIG35, wow, what a story, I didn't know nothing about alcohol before I was 18. O:-)

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  • @moonshine: yeah, right, ....I have heard different stories...! ;)

    StillDragon Europe - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Europe & the surrounding area

  • haha, I believe @Moonshine.
    I'm still saving myself for my first drink for that very special occasion. =))

  • and not for lack of experience or trying but the bro inlaw still seems to be able to make the exact same stuff we were making 26 years ago... and I still can't drink it.

    @moonshine - maybe they are right when they say NZ has a drinking problem... thats not something I can confirm though. :-\"

  • Started brewing beer in the early '70s before it was legal, did it for a while then moved and quit brewing. Fast forward to 2000. Ordered new equipment to start brewing again. When Jim Beam was bought out, I decided to try my hand at distilling. Have had only one run this far, after several really bad ones..the oats were especially terrible!!!. Burnt up one controller, ordered a scr that didn't work as well as I hoped, and while looking for a new controller, found this site. Ordered parts for the diy controller, so hopefully will finally get to distilling.

  • @MIG35 said: and not for lack of experience or trying but the bro inlaw still seems to be able to make the exact same stuff we were making 26 years ago... and I still can't drink it.

    moonshine - maybe they are right when they say NZ has a drinking problem... thats not something I can confirm though. :-\"

    Its not the drinking its how were drinking

    I am a bad binge drinker, can go ages without but when I start I find it hard to slow down

    Been improving my social drinking, and I have the odd one or two at home after work to wind down

    But when I go out I just want to forget :s

    Typical kiwi binge

  • started making beer for cheaper beer about 30 years back - when coopers kits were actually a fresh work kit in a plastic bag inside a cardboard box. later moved onto K&K then gave up after moving houses several times - kept the gear but never reused it so sold it at a garage sale. started again about 10 years ago after getting exposed to ales & craft beers. learnt about yeasts & ferment temp control. moved onto all grain & became a BJCP certified judge. Got talking with a mate about distilling, found hd & yahoo distiller groups. got interested in the process & thought - "I can do that"... so made a 2" boka & discovered artisan. made a 2" pot & VM. bought a dash, wrote a couple of manuals & here I am.

  • Started with wine in carboys at about 15 (1970)...made wine on and off! 2004ish started with a stove top still after I found out what was in commercial booze, and went on from there.

    DAD... not yours.. ah, hell... I don't know...

  • I did my first run about 4 years ago studied a lot about it for a year or two before that did my first run on a copper still i found on ebay with a custom keg boiler still got the original boiler its just been modified a bit My father was a wine maker and also brewed for swan brewery in the west for a short time, he made plenty of home brew when i was growing up and me and my mates would nick some bottles out of the cellar every now and then so he wouldn't notice about 6 years ago a crazy girlfreind bought me a home brew kit for my birthday had some success and some not so good brews so decided to get right into it to see if i could make the best beer in the world im interested in both hobbies but beer is my main interest although i have only done about 25 brews of beer some of them have been bloody good others interesting working away doesnt help my production at all cheaper better booze is my goal

  • First brewed beer about 8-9 years ago in my early 20s.

    A group of us started in a kitchen with a 1.5 gallon kettle, a bucket, some malt extract, and a since full of ice to chill it down. Drinkable first results had us hooked. 100s of batches later with an upgrade implemented nearly every batch, that group is down to 2. We each have a full all grain setup in our homes. We are using HERMS with keggles to do proper 10 gallon batches with nice temp control via tablet or computer. Overall, about 300 gallons a year is brewed currently, looking to push that closer to 500 gallons next year to meet demand of our friend base. That'll be basically a batch a week average, but with the capability to run 8-12 batches in a weekend if both of run twice a day Friday-Saturday, it's very doable. Running both gas and electric at the same time, we can get 2 batches run in about 6 hours. Looked into going pro, but didn't have the capital or wife support at the time. The thought still bubbles up on occasion.

    Distilling seeds were planted in college by a roommate. Did a fair deal of research, but not much info was around back then that I understood. And with no knowledge of brewing beer, the whole process was too daunting.

    2.5 years ago (still in my 20s), I took the plunge into a basic CM still, tried it a handful of times and had mild success, enough to catch my interest. Still have some of the original batch resting on oak. Within a year, I was adding a bubble plate under the CM, then 2, then building parts for a DASH. After learning TIG welding enough to make a few leak free components, the Dash wanna be was run. It was ok, but not as nice as I wanted. Now I have shelves full of SD parts to build whatever I feel like at the moment. In my 30s, with a family crawling around, my time is shorter, but I have a lifetime hobby setup in the basement with gear that shouldn't need to be replaced for a long time, or until SD comes out with something so cool I can't live without it.

  • im thinking a continuos stripper???!!!!

  • I started distilling the day I turned legal age, 18, that was just a few months ago.
    So far I have aged 5 year old whiskey that I've made by myself.

    And you cannot possibly have a continuous stripper because at some point she'll have to put her clothes back on.

    But as I read @Jung's post above, especially the part...

    Now I have shelves full of SD parts to build whatever I feel like at the moment.

    ...I just want to give him a hug.

  • well, we have our shelves also full with SD parts. Our oldest son, he is 8, also likes to assemble them and always wants to build new stuff :) . The only problem is: he cannot use it yet - for age reasons....but I have the feeling, he will be one of the youngest distillers in Austria. This leads me to the problem, that I have to think about a proper education regarding the use of alcohol (we know, how this turned out on other members of the family :)) )

    StillDragon Europe - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Europe & the surrounding area

  • The first time me and my girlfriend have distilled our first batch was exacly 3 years ago in summer. We live in hungary and here nobody makes whiskey people have no idea how to make it and allso the national drink here is "palinka" what is basically a fruit brandy. Every household has its own palinka here...if you have a fruit tree you make palinka. :) We have tasted many that come from friends or relatives and even went to "palinka festivals" to try out the so called best that cost 5$/2cl. We couldnt find the one we like it was allways too strong yet empty somehow.

    This was the reason we decided to make our own. A lot of reading happened on the internet and we came to know that people put sugar syrup into the fermenting mash so they get more alcohol out but this way it will dilute the aromas and this is why we allways felt that taste.

    As Lloyd said before we did make all the mistakes you can possibly make disstilling spirits too. It took some time we made the perfect still and did the first perfect run on it.

    Man...the first peach brandy we made from "A" class fruits and it was syrup free. Damn I'll never forget the taste and the look on everyones face when they smelld and tasted it, it was so much different so much better. Since that I have a diploma in distilling brandy and have a deep passion for distilling. We plan on opening our own distillerie here in hungary in the future if we can get a hold on the new 8" SD still in europe late authumn. :)

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