Really, the best thing you can do is find a good home-brew store and just pick their brains. Say something like "I want to make a porter, what do I need?" and they should help you out. I'd say to try a few extract brews before you go into all grain, it'll give you some basic experience in the process and it's less likely you'll screw it up. Buy some one-step sanitizer and sanitize the shit out of everything you're using. Clean everything with soap and water to get all of the major shit out, then sanitize it after that. Sanitize your hands, the counters, everything. I've seen more than enough batches go bad just because of contamination. Papazian's book The Joy of Homebrewing is a good one for recipes and brewing process.
The best thing I ever did for my homebrew was to buy a chest freezer and a "Johnston Controller." You can use the controller (an external thermostat) to turn the freezer on and off, so the temperature stays where you want to brew --- 65F, for example.
Second was a cooker so I could brew the wort outside and not risk messing up my kitchen.
An oxgenator was the next best purchase.
Just experiment. Start with a ready-made kit from Midwest or DeFalcos. Worst thing that happens is you pour it out.
Use Iodaphor as your sanitizer. Very potent and no rinse.
Start with a kit. You won't technically be "brewing" but you'll learn important things like sanitation, bottling, measuring gravity and so on. No matter what anybody tells you these things are an integral part of brewing.
From there, this hobby can go as far as you'd like. You can continue with the kits or do triple decoctions...it's all up to you. After you get some experience full boils really are the way to go, both in terms of taste and cost.
Some random pieces of advice:
1.) If you're starting with a kit, go with something forgiving. IPA's are great...their hoppiness can cover almost any error. Wheat beers are another good choice...no hopping, bloody easy and you'll be surprised how great they taste.
2.) Never open a beer prematurely. If you're bottle conditioning WAIT until they've conditioned!
3.) Beeradvocate.com, homebrewing area of the forum. You'll learn a lot. Homebrew42 is a guy to listen to.
im a newb homebrewer, but starting with kits is pretty easy. Id recommend looking up local groups of homebrewers/ having a friend. Its fun to share a few beers with people, pick their brain and collectively make a good batch of beer. Ive found homebrewers are the type that really like to share. Zymurgy is a good mag.
Ok so I brewed my very first batch this weekend. All was well, and I put the fermentation lock on, at about 4 PM, then around 11PM i heard a loud pop and the lock has shot off and brew was foaming out like a 6th grade science project volcano...
So i attached at hose to all ow the blow off to continue, then the next morning I re-attached the fermentation lock and all seems well...
My question is, Did i just ruin my whole batch?
and if it is no longer sanitary, how would I know?
You're probably OK. Primary fermentation tends to be pretty forgiving to infections. I can't even count how many times I've had catastrophic "blow-ups" and the beer turned out perfectly. Did you pitch your yeast at 4pm? Because if so, that is rather fast fermentation. Did you make a yeast starter solution (yeast mixed with dark malt extract)?
Signs of an infection...a slimy-looking skin appears on the top of your beer (don't confuse this for leftover krausen, which is completely normal. What I mean by that are the remnants of the frothy bubbles which caused the blow-up...sometimes they look dark yellow or brown, again, perfectly normal). Another sign is if the gravity stops dropping prematurely. I'm confident you're fine though.
I don't know if you're doing a secondary fermentation next, but once the vigorous fermentation stops you have to be extra mindful of getting everything sanitized properly.
First, thanks so much for giving me advice brother.
But no, I followed the kit perfectly, (Although I had read in "The Joy of Homebrewing" about the blow-off hose) and it never mentioned making a starting solution and just throw on the Fermentation lock...and like I said I threw it on about 4PM, and stuck in in a corner in my basement, then had a few beers with buddies until we heard the "Pop" and found an overflowing fermenter.
After i put the lock back on, it was bubbling pretty good and now it letting off a bubble about 1 every 30 seconds...I am not sure if I screwed it all up BC according to what i have read it should be doing more than this right now...
Is it possible I lost some of the yeast in the explosion?
I forgot you were using a kit. Did you use a powdered yeast, perhaps in a little golden packet? If it's from a kit it's probably a US Ale yeast. These tend to ferment faster than liquid yeasts, so what you're experiencing is normal.
The vigourous fermentation is usually over very quickly, sometimes within hours. You probably didn't lose much yeast. 1 bubble per 30 seconds is a little bit on the slow side, but not abnormal. You might do a gravity reading in the next day or two...as long as it's dropping close to your target gravity you're fine.
Are you fermenting in a glass carboy, or plastic bucket? If it's glass, you should see a layer of sediment starting to form on the bottom.
You didn't mention if you were doing a secondary fermentation, or just doing the primary fermentation and then transferring to a bottling bucket. In both cases, make sure you keep your siphon away from the bottom of the vessel so you avoid transferring all the yeast sediment. The less of this sediment you transfer, the better your beer will taste and it'll be easier to clean your bottles.
Later this afternoon I'm going on a business trip and will be away from the computer for a few days, so if you have any specific questions check out the "homebrewing" section of BeerAdvocate.com. There are a lot of guys there who have been at this far longer than me who can answer any questions you have.
One last tip...it's tempting to crack open a bottle prematurely, but let them sit and bottle ferment for at least an extra week or two above and beyond what the kit instructions say. The beer will taste better.
Kinda on the same topic, I was talking to my friend that drinks more beer then me. I said I was thinking about brewing beer for fun. He said he didn't think it was a good idea. His friend brought homebrew to a party and everyone who was drinking it go some case of the "runs" pretty bad the next day. I said this is a case of not properly cleaning everything he used to make his brew.
Think I was right? Or does this run happen depending on your ingredients?