I’m not sure if the local brewpubs would be able to point you towards a homebrew supply store, but they certainly might. I suspect most of those brewers started as homebrewers.
My husband started out trying to homebrew from a Mr. Beer kit, and ended up asking if I wanted to try. A batch later, I decided I should do this “for real” and bought a homebrewing starter kit; now I’ve been at it for a couple years, get a lot of compliments on my beer, and love it.
Miscellaneous advice that hopefully isn’t covering what other people have said -
Resources: How to Brew, a whole homebrewing book online for free; Homebrewing for Dummies (seriously!); Brew Your Own magazine
It’d be easiest to start with “extract-only” brewing first. You take powdered or liquid malt extract, mix it up with water in a big brewpot, add hops as the recipe says, then cool it down, add more water, add yeast, and let it ferment! Expect most ales to take a month (give or take) from mixing through bottling and letting carbonate, before they’re ready to drink. From there, you can easily move on to “extract plus grain”, which just adds a step at the beginning of steeping grains in water like you’re making tea, then using that water to brew with. All-grain brewing is more complicated and requires more equipment.
From the starter equipment, I’ve added more and more gear - I have a 3-gallon carboy with a batch of mead fermenting in it at the moment, plus two 5-gallon carboys in addition to a plastic primary fermenter bucket. I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of my latest order from Northern Brewer. I have a 9% alcohol Belgian honey ale (a Belgian wit with honey in it) bottled and needing at least a couple weeks of aging time, and a mini-keg (Tap-a-Draft) of a hoppy American wheat in my fridge. (The recipe was inaccurate in hop amounts; we’re calling it an “India Pale Wheat,” heh.)
Three more important things:
- Sanitation: Being lazy with sanitizing your bottles or equipment is a major cause of beer “going bad” - off tastes, growth of bacteria inside, etc. Check out the brewing supply store’s selection to get a proper cleaner and a proper sanitizer - two different products.
- Yeast health: You’ll learn more about this later, but I always mix up a starter the night before for my yeast; about 2 c. boiled water with ~1/4-1/2 c malt extract in it, allowed to cool to 80 F or less, in a sanitized container. Add the yeast and let it get a head start. When you have to pour 5 gallons of wort (the mixed-up stuff that will become beer) down the drain because your yeast failed, you’ll kick yourself over not using a starter - I know I did.
- Remember the classic quote from Charles Papazian: “Relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew.” This sounds like a lot to remember, but it’ll be second nature before long. Your first batch might not turn out that good. Heck, my first few batches didn’t, but I stuck with it.