I started making wine in 1993 when we bought a house in SE Portland. The house had a large lot that had a huge Italian Plum tree in the back. After a season of racking up fallen plums, I had a brilliant idea.
I had some friends that made wine, and decided that this would not only be a fun hobby, but it would give me something worthwhile to do with the bountiful plums which fell every year. After acquiring all of the supplies and ingredients, I went to work pitting bucket after bucket of the royal purple fruit.
Well, as the story goes, after some extensive learning curves, my wine was in high demand. Not just good, they said, but GREAT! I now had a vast supply of some of the finest plum wine available, that I had made myself! It wasn't long before everyone expected a bottle or two for Christmas or Birthdays, Parties or Dinners; my wine was (and still is) in high demand.
Now I had no need to Christmas or birthday shop for family and friends, I just made wine for everyone. I would always try to mix it up a bit every year buy making something new like Apple Strawberry Wine, Kiwi Grape Wine, Tropical Fruit Wine, Elderberry, Pear, Raspberry, Blackberry, the list just got bigger and bigger.
As I am an avid beer connoisseur, I wondered about making my own beer, but was always a little bit scared because of the horror stories I had heard about bad beer batches. My first try was with a 'Do-it-Yourself' Kit, a hanging bag full of beer (supposedly) that turned out butt awful. Not to be defeated, I tried again with a 'real' set-up this time, and low and behold! Let There Be BEER!
Since that time I have continued to brew a wide variety of wonderful beers and ales. I like to experiment with wild and ancient recipes, barley wines, real 'root' beers, stouts, old ales, wheat beers, rye beers and the like. I have never made a beer that I haven't liked, although some of the 'root' beers were quite strong and defiantly were an acquired taste.
One of the best books I found for old brewing recipes is 'Sacred & Herbal Healing Beers : The Secrets of Ancient Fermentation', by Stephen Harrod Buhner, and published by Siris Books. This is the first comprehensive book ever written on the sacred aspects of indigenous, historical psychotropic and herbal healing beers of the world. Surveying the healing and sacred roles of beer from many cultures and past centuries, herbalist Buhner proposes that fermentation and plant use are part of the exploration of what it means to be human. He provides 120 recipes using ingredients from 80 plants, and includes nutritive and curative use for specific conditions.