One batch of homebrew and Ron Price was hooked.
It was 1992, and after reading a co-worker's copy of Charlie Papazian's "The Complete Joy of Home Brewing," Ron got ahold of a John Bull extract kit and brewed an English bitter on his kitchen stove.
"That first beer turned out pretty decent," he says. "It had some flaws, but it was beer, you know? That was the spark."
The engineer in Ron liked the mechanics of brewing, but the performer in him basked in the warm reception from his friends.
"I'm a musician from way back, and I love to make people smile," he says. "I was giving the beer out to my friends, and they were like, 'Wow, that's pretty good.'"
That mix of craftsmanship and enthusiasm has served Ron well over the years. He's medaled in the National Homebrewing Competition, passed the Beer Judge Certification Program, and on June 1, will became the only East Coast representative on the American Homebrewing Association's governing committee.
It was Ron's second run at the governing committee for the 30,000-member AHA. The first time, a friend submitted his name, and with nearly no effort, he lost by only 30 votes.
This year, with the support of homebrew clubs in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New York and the populist power of Facebook and Twitter, Ron earned 539 of 1,089 votes and one of three open seats on the 18-member committee. Since the results were announced in early April, he's spent a half-hour a day plowing through thank-yous and atta-boys in his email inbox.
"First and foremost," Ron says, "I want to bring the concerns and issues that are relevant to East Coast homebrewers to the governing committee. I want to let them have a feeling of ownership within the AHA. They've never had that, and it's time. It's past time."
Second on Ron's agenda is the 2013 National Homebrew Conference in Philadelphia, about an hour north of his home in Smyrna, Del.
Despite his role as global moderator of the AHA's online forums -- you might know him as "bluesman" -- and his deeper involvement in homebrewing politics, Ron hasn't lost sight of the reason he got into homebrewing. He cooks up a new batch about every two weeks, and is taking his Belgian Dark Strong Ale to the finals of the National Homebrew Competition in Seattle this June.
"I'm an avid homebrewer," he says. "Ultimately, it's beer that makes me want to get up and go everyday!"
For information on joining the American Homebrewing Association, visit www.homebrewersassociation.org.