By Sarah Murrell
This week's Ask a Brewer is brought to you thanks to Flat 12's Sean Manahan. He's doling out advice on everything from the cost of homebrewing, to brother-in-law bonding, to cheap boxers. Take it away, Sean.
Question: When it comes to homebrewing, what's a realistic figure to plan for when buying good-quality stuff the first time? I understand a lot of people invest in cheaper, more disposable equipment at first that they then replace. What kind of money am I looking at if I want to start out with higher-end homebrewing equipment?
Sean Manahan: Homebrewing is the perfect hobby in my opinion. It serves as a creative outlet, a science experiment, a social gathering, an excuse to drink a few beers, and it can done, and done well, with everything from 5 gallon plastic buckets to 60 gallon stainless steel kettles. Like you mentioned, most equipment starts as cheap as possible. My first few attempts at brewing were extract batches in a 2.5 gallon aluminum pot and fermented in growlers. However, once people fall in love with the hobby it really does become an addiction leading to bigger, better, and more complex equipment. My homebrewing went from the single tiny pot to a 2-tier, 3 vessel, 12 gallon net keggle system with some fun bells and whistles, and I almost enjoy adding new pieces of equipment as I do brewing on it these days.
So, what is a realistic figure? That really depends on where you want to start. Good quality equipment can be found to brew on your stove top or to brew on industrial kitchen burners. If you are looking to start the build out of a system you intend to use for several years, you'll want to make sure it's sized correctly so you can invest in additions to the system and not replacements. I find 10-15 gallons is a great size to use for a long time and build upon. My personal system cost me around $2,500 with lots of DIY projects. I wish I could give you a solid number to work off of, but I'm going to defer you to Great Fermentations for that. Great store, great people, and they helped me get started. Cheers!
Question: My brother-in-law's only two hobbies are fantasy football and playing golf. I hate both of these things, but I want to bond with him over stuff he likes. How do I bridge the gap and get a little closer to my new little brother without wanting to pull my hair out?
Manahan: A brother-in-law is a great addition to your line of friends. My BILs and I hit it off pretty quickly which was important to my wife and me. We don't share many interests, but the one we do share is universal. Beer. One or my BILs works in LA producing movies and drawing chalk art and the other is a local attorney who also loves fantasy football and golf. While I'm interested in their activities at the most basic level, we can always sit down and talk about them over a beer. Just come up with some generic lingo about his hobbies such as defense, O-line, or sandwich. As long as you bring a six pack, you'll both get along great. Unless he's not 21, then the beer is just for you and a sixer should make you interested in anything.
Question: My girlfriend has told me I need to buy nicer boxers now that I'm 30 and make decent cash. I told her I'm not paying more than a few dollars for something that just gets fart into all day. Who is right?
Manahan: I've had this very same discussion with my wife countless times. While we love the women in our lives, few things can hug you like a nice cheap pair of boxers. And you are absolutely correct, how much does a guy need to spend for fart ridden cloth? Not to mention the ball sweat as we enter Indiana's hot humid summer. So, I completely agree with you. Don't go spend extra cash on 'High End' undies for yourself. Maybe offer to spend it on hers or take her out to dinner. That's how I compromise and avoid telling my wife no, expensive panties and dinner all while rockin cheap manly boxers.
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