In April of 2000, I started out like most home brewers, working on the kitchen stove with an extract + grain setup. A few weeks of fermentation later, I took a sample of my first Guinness clone beer to The Pumphouse in Struthers, Ohio. Greg, the owner of the Pumphouse, liked what I had made, and invited me to stick around, as there was a home brewers "taste night" later that evening. I was amazed at what the other brewers were making, and after some encouraging reviews of my own beer, I joined the "Pumphouse Brew Crew" and Y.A.H.O.O. (Youngstown Area Home brewers of Ohio).
For 2 more years, I honed my brewing skills with Extract brews, attending brewing events, homebrew days, trying as many beer styles and variations as I could. During these 2 years, I saw many different kinds of brewing being done... Greg was using an infusion mash, Spud was using equipment I had never heard of, like something out of a mad scientist lab. One thing that always surprised me was how willing home brewers were to teach me about their systems. Any question I asked (and there were alot) they were happy to answer for me. About this time, I started getting tired of cleaning malt extract off the stove. I'd seen others brewing straight from all grain sources, no extract needed. It didn't look all that hard, so I put together a system, fired it up and brewed up my first all grain beer, nothing less than a Guinness clone.
After placing second in the T.R.A.S.H. (Three Rivers Alliance of Serious Home brewers) annual home brewing competition (stout category) I was hooked. Always aiming for bigger and better batches of beer (I was kegging my beer at this point, bottles are a pain) I started collecting parts for a new brew system. With a little arm twisting and liquid payment, a welder friend and I put together my current brewing rig, complete with a computer running Promash (software designed to store brewing recipes).
In 2003, tired of shuffling cars to brew in the garage, and being banned from brewing in the house, I had a 12x16 prefabricated shed built. After insulating, hanging drywall, painting, and running electricity, "The Shed" was born. It quickly became the hangout for my son (now brewing alongside his old man) and his college friends (some of which are also brewing now as well). The Shed crew are some of the toughest critics a brewer can have, as they have truly been corrupted, and will accept no substitutes for "REAL" beer.