When people ask me what they should get as an introductory equipment kit, I recommend something like MoreBeer's basic kit. This is perfect for a few reasons. First, it has everything you need, aside from bottles and a stock pot, to get started making great beer. You likely already own a good stock pot that can hold a couple gallons of liquid, and you can get your buddies to save you their beer bottles – pry-offs, not screw-tops – so there should be no extra expense.
Second, it is pretty cheap. $70 is not a lot of money to spend on getting started in a hobby you may very well find rewarding. This low price also means that you won't be out a lot of money, in the event that it is not something you enjoy doing. If you buy an ingredient kit at the same time, you will be in the hole for about $100 for your first batch. You can certainly buy more equipment than this initial kit has, but you do not need it. You can always add more later if you want to get more advanced. I say keep it simple, at least to start.
I went to the store to price some popular retail beers to do a price comparison. I looked specifically for 12-packs and assumed a 5% sales tax in my calculations. I also assumed that a new homebrewer would buy $100 of equipment and supplies, and then would buy $40 ingredient kits. You can certainly pay much more for ingredients, but you can also pay quite a bit less, so this is a good amount to estimate for. For reference, an ingredient kit comes in a box with all the consumables you need, including bottle caps.
on Flickr”>Andy sent me this homebrew recipe after bringing a coffee porter to our homebrewing club. I lost it for a couple months but just discovered it again, therapist
thank goodness. It is a dark, rich porter, very malty, and with minimal bitterness, as you can see from the half ounce of bittering hops, boiled for only 45 minutes. The two-minute addition of Northern Brewer hops will impart a floral scent and the dry-hopping process will intensify this.
I am going to make this homebrew recipe soon but will deviate from Andy's version, below. I plan to use a different coffee. Andy used a French style fine-ground coffee. It tasted great, but my coffee preferences lean toward a Vietnamese brand called Trung Nguyen, which you can find at your local Southeast Asian supermarket. The deep, rich flavor of this coffee will work well with the malty character of the porter. I might try another batch with something a little less refined, like coffee with chicory. You can try any coffee you like a lot and think will give you a good flavor.
This is our first recipe online that refers to dry hopping. This is the process of adding hops into the secondary fermenter to impart an interesting floral scent. the process is simple. First, let the beer completely ferment, and transfer it to a secondary fermenter. Then add your hops for dry-hopping. It might take a few days to a week to really get the hoppy flavor in there. People sometimes ask how you know when it's done dry-hopping. I say, use a wine thief or pipette to draw out a sample and take a taste. If you want more hoppiness, let it stand a bit longer. If you think it is all right, your brew is done.
1 lb Caramel Malt
5 oz Chocolate Malt
6.6 lbs Amber Malt Extract
0.5 oz Northern Brewer 45 min
0.25 oz Northern Brewer 2 min
Dry hop 0.25 oz Cascade and 0.5 oz Hallertaur
4 oz fine ground French roast grounds. Added to boil for last 15 minutes.
Standard ale yeast, such as Nottingham Ale Yeast
Steep the cracked specialty grains in two gallons of 155-degree water for 45 minutes. Remove the grain, rinse it with a gallon of water at 160 degrees, and turn up the heat. Discard or plan to reuse the grain. Turn up the heat and add the amber malt extract. Bring it to a boil. Boil this for 60 minutes, but don't add the hops until 15 minutes into the boil. Follow the schedule above for all the additions. Ferment for two weeks and then dry-hop for a week. Bottle or keg, and you have a great beer to bring to the next party you attend.