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Time off from hobbies

I ended up taking time off from all of my hobbies when my son was born. All of my equipment: brewing, surfing, biking, all of it, got shelved for about a year.

Aside from a few pieces of tubing, it all dusted right off and went back into service, now more than ever. I actually brew more now than I ever did; and not hitting the exact temp or volume seems to bother me a lot less than before. Sometimes taking the break can make it that much more fun to come back to. The bulk of the expensive equipment will last a life time, so the breaks aren’t so bad.

I should mention… I did take basically the whole year off in 2012. I took another year off a few years back I think in 2009 or something like that. The reason, both times, I think, was a combination of: being too busy, having WAY too much beer on hand already (I typically have 5-7 cases, all in bottles), plus I got frustrated at contamination problems due to old plastic buckets. But of course I still felt the urge to overcome it, and eventually started running a little bit low on beer (maybe only 4 cases, woo!), so I finally just plain got over it, bought several glass carboys (they’re really not all that expensive!!), and got back into the swing in 2013. I imagine I will never have contamination again, although I might still grow lazy every once in a while, or buy way too much beer and thus feel no urge to make even more. What I really need to do is to stop buying so much friggin beer! I just spent another $50 this weekend on various obscure rarities. If I’d just quit that habit of shopping for awesome exotic beers, then I’d have good reason to brew a lot more.

I’ve just returned to it this summer/fall after a few years off and went all-in on some all-grain gear. Prior to that I was just an extract brewer. I have to say, going all-grain so far has been a blast. Grinding the grains and doing a mash adds a different dimension to the process. Cleanup takes longer :x , but I have found that I actually enjoy brewing more than I did before.

And yeah dmtaylo2, I also can’t resist the urge to pick up that unique 6 pack or bottle and add it to my stock. I think I’m obsessed. :wink:

I’m a hobby person, and brewing is the single hobby I haven’t moved away from. I think its due to the fact that theres so much to learn, and it doesn’t hurt that I get beer as a finished product.

I have many hobbies and have only recently delved into home brewing. The only other hobby I follow as passionately (and have spent as much money on) is board-gaming and that’s over many many years.

One of the things I learned in just my brief time in this hobby, there are many ways to achieve the same result but some of them are convenient and “sexy”. It’s usually the convenience and “sexy” that costs the most money. You can make amazing beer with cheap make shift equipment its all about technique.

It’s really nothing to stress about. Even mediocre technique still makes good beer. You may not be winning awards with it, but you get to enjoy your own creation.

The best part is, at the end of all the experimentation…you get to drink beer!

[quote=“flars”]Some of the points you mentioned is why I will not ever go to all grain. I will stick to extract and partial mash. I want to reduce stress not increase it. Doing an all grain and having five gallons of so-so beer around, even as a learning experience, is not my idea of fun. Extracts and partial mashes have given me and friends great tasting beers. Why risk it.

I will concentrate on temperature control and yeast handling.

Serious equipment upgrades sounds like serious upgrades in stress level.[/quote]
Never say never. There are options for making it easy. Brew in a bag is something I’ve moved to from the traditional cooler mashtun with batch sparging method. It’s very easy; it combines the simplicity of extract with the control of brewing all grain. For those of us who want to brew more often without drinking crazy amounts of beer, 3 gallon brew in a bag is the way to go - or smaller.

I haven’t taken more than a few months off from brewing, the one time I did was due to moving and not wanting to have to move beer. I’ve taken time off other hobbies like playing drums/guitar and always feel renewed when I come back. Usually it takes going out and seeing a show where there is a great drummer to get me motivated again. With cycling, I can’t really take a break since it’s my mode of transportation; I bike year round in the snow and everything.

I’ve found that not stressing about everything helps.

Here’s my brew day:

Get 3 gallons of water to 170 degrees (roughly). Add that and grain to mash tun. Make sure temperature is somewhere between 145 and 155 (it almost always is).

Wait 30 to 45 minutes as I get 4 gallons up to 170 to 180. Sparge with that until I get about 6 gallons. I don’t bother trying to get X quarts per Y minutes or anything. I just make sure it’s not obviously coming too slow or too fast. I do check gravity, but that’s fun to do with a refractometer (here’s an example where the right tool keeps things from being tedious and not enjoyable).

No pH measurements. No screwing with water profiles. No trying to nail a temperature right to a degree. Just shoot from the hip and enjoy. My beer is just as good as it was when I tried to nail everything exactly. Of course those years of trying to nail everything gave me a good intuition how things are supposed to be coming along.

I seem to have an ingrained trait to turn any hobby I involve myself in into a life style.

I did it with fishing many, many years ago. I ate, drank and breathed fishing. After a time I got burned out on it and now I do it very seldom.

I tried very, very hard to turn my wood-working hobby into a profession. Came close too. But it seemed that for every dollar I spent to get the equipment I needed to increase production/profits i needed to spent a couple more to accommodate the new addition. Got burned out. But I do hope to return to it in my “golden years”.

Then I did it with hunting. Ate, drank and breathed it too. And, again, I got burned out.

Same thing with muzzle loading.

Then I started to take the same, old, worn out road with my beer. Came close to getting burned out. But I guess I just love beer too much to give it up. I’ve cut myself back from brewing/bottling two gallons every other week to brewing/bottling a three gallon batch every three weeks. And then that’s only during the non-summer months of the year.

I am consistently passionate about brewing in the coldest winter months when I brew many lagers. And, here in Northern Minnesota, there is not a lot of other hobbies in the bitter cold. (At least not all weekend. I don’t snowmobile.) As Chuck N alluded to, making it seasonal is one way to keep from burnig out. Of course, you can always ramp it up or down anytime you wish, but I really like having something to look forward to when it turns bitter cold – lager brewing once my unheated basement room drops to the low 50s.

Same here - just having all my water measured out the night before makes a huge difference.

Went a little low key during the summer, but then I ventured into some new to me fermentation:

Wine so fine!

Then I did a couple beers and another (2nd) batch of wine. All refreshed and ready to keep it up!

Brewing beer for me fills the void where scuba diving used to be. I poured my heart and soul into diving. I built my life around it. Still have all the equipment, but the old body says no. So I brew, or I should say try to brew. I am still looking for that home brew that says Wow, that is some good beer. So far mine have just been drinkable. I want to make good beer. It keeps eluding me, but I know one day I will brew it. That is where I am thankful for this fourm. Tons of kind brewers giving great advice. All willing to help with a question or concern.
The work schedule keeps me from brewing more often. We work a 12 hour schedule. Plus the fact I am the only one for the most part drinking the beer. I have three 5 gallon corney kegs I try to keep filled. When one is starting to get a little low, time to plan a brew day. Since starting this hobby I eat,sleep and drink it. Always thinking of what to brew next, equipment to buy, procedures to change, and water chemistry to learn because I know nothing about it.

I feel like I was this way with playing drums. Started playing snare drum in elementary when I was 10, then got a drum set when I was 13. Played my heart out for 15 years and only the last couple years I’ve slowed way down and haven’t been playing as much (about once a week, as opposed to everyday for an hour or two). I think there’s a direct correlation between when I started brewing and when I began playing less drums. Brewing took over my life, in other words. The more I got into brewing, the less I did of anything else. I’m the type of person that when I get into something, it’s balls out. I’m starting to realize now this and am backing off from brewing and beer just a bit, not too much though! It’s all about balance and I find that when I’m spending too much time thinking about beer and brewing, then I don’t get anything else done.

I hope you can. I work in the corporate world, but certainly don’t take it very seriously and have plenty of time for my own life; and I definitely don’t take work home with me (mentally/emotionally). It’d be nice to do something I love for a living, but I question how much I’d love it if I had to do it as a job. I’m almost of the opinion that one should just find something they don’t mind that pays decently and stick with it. But then again, to each their own. Some people would rather work a job they hate for the money. I don’t get that.

Why 1.7? I am thinking of making some 1.25 gallon batches so I can end up with about 4 of the 1 litre swing tops.

Why 1.7? I am thinking of making some 1.25 gallon batches so I can end up with about 4 of the 1 litre swing tops.[/quote]

Standard 5-gallon batch divided by 3 equals approximately 1.66666666666666666666666666666, or 1.7 for short.

I brewed for 6-7-8 years… took 5 years basically off … got married, step kids, grad school… just really busy. Brewed some bad batches (due to my own mistakes and rushing to fit brewing in) and became a little disenchanted. Just bought commercial kegs for a few years. Got the bug back for some reason and have been going strong ever since. Probably brewed 40-50 batches a year for the past 3-4 years now. Love it more than ever. Still have busy times where I brew less, but now brewing the best beers of my life and always looking forward to the next brew day.

That’s a lot of batches. I hope those are either smaller batches or you’re giving a lot of it away!

I’ve been considering going back to bottling and brewing 2.5 gallon batches (so I can brew MORE!) just because it’s simple, cheap, and easy to maintain. But, I’ve already got all the kegging stuff and a sweet kegerator with a very nice collar that my stepdad made for me…

I started this hobby with my dad and brother 2 years ago to the day just about. We’ve gone from mediocre somewhat drinkable 5 gallant extract kits to amazing store bought quality all grain 10 gallon custom recipes.

Having others to brew and drink with makes it so much more fun. I’d probably still brew if it was just me, but not nearly as often as I do now.

I type this as am putting the water additions together for our brew day tomorrow…

[quote=“stompwampa”]I started this hobby with my dad and brother 2 years ago to the day just about. We’ve gone from mediocre somewhat drinkable 5 gallant extract kits to amazing store bought quality all grain 10 gallon custom recipes.

Having others to brew and drink with makes it so much more fun. I’d probably still brew if it was just me, but not nearly as often as I do now.

I type this as am putting the water additions together for our brew day tomorrow…[/quote]
That sounds awesome, man. I wish I had that kind of bond with my dad. Although I got him into brewing with a brewing kit earlier this year, we haven’t done too much brewing together.

Just want to say thanks for all of the replies and insights. I have been compelled to do some serious cleanups and cleanouts now, in order to get this train going again. I have made some really great beers in the past, but as Dave pointed to, having SO MUCH around is probably what disheartened me the most. Need to keep volume in check. On the positive side, I have a Bohemian pilsner that has been lagering at 34 degrees for many months; going to keg it and see what happens! :mrgreen:

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