Wine making was made legal in the home shortly after my graduation from college. Perhaps you have heard one of the earlier Sears and Roebuck commercials which stressed, "Sears has everything." They may not have had everything, but they did have nice wine making kits for red, white and rose wines. I like white wine; my wife likes red -- we compromised and I bought the kit for making rose wine. I was surprised how good the end product actually tasted. Encouraged, I went on to make wines from several kinds of fruit (berries, peaches, grapes to name a few). I bought a small quantity of peaches from a Maryland roadside stand when traveling home after a summer vacation. The wine was one of the best I have ever made -- and I have been unable to reproduce anything similar in spite of carefully documenting and following the original recipe.
Wine making led to beer making. As good as the wine was, I find it difficult to describe the terrible quality of the first beer batches. I recently discovered that beer equipment requires more intensive sanitizing than does wine. Chemicals that adequately sanitize wine equipment leave the beer equipment in a state that allows the beer to go bad. A second problem was trying to make lager (requires very cool fermentation) rather than ale (ferments quite good at room ambient temperature). Using a nice extract kit obtained from "The Little Ol' Wine Maker" (Pensacola, FL), I finally made some beer that tasted very good. It wouldn't win any awards, but it was a lot better than your average suds.
I quite often just buy a six pack of a favorite brew (Sam Adams lagar beer comes to mind) but others simply must be made since they are either original recipes unavailable in any store or commercial brews not handled by any local distributor. Locally, Gator Distributors handles Sam Adams beer, but won't carry Sam Adams Cream Stout -- my personal favorite. (Thanks for nothing guys.) A reasonable solution is simply to make five gallons of a homebrew with the flavor and characteristics of your desired beer -- which is what I'm doing with the cream stout.
If you would like to persue this great hobby, just contact the Escambia Bay Homebrewers web site and contact them for information.
The latest incarnation of "The Little Ol' Winemaker" is "The Shady Lady" that can be found on Nine Mile Road near Davis Highway in Pensacola, FL. Click the above link for their web site. The exact address is:
The Shady Lady
2475B East Nine Mile Road
Pensacola, FL 32514
Voice phone: (850) 476-1221
FAX phone: (850) 332-6676
E-mail address: email@example.com