Being a beer lover, I’ve always been fascinating with the brewing process, and would be interested in making a foray into homebrewing. However, I am a little bit skeptical of the homebrewing kits I see in stores. I know there’s a few homebrewers on the board (Homebrew, I’m looking at you) and am wondering what sort of investment I need to make decent beer. If I do end up homebrewing, I want to make a quality product, not just some swill that tastes close enough to beer. I have friends who make awesome wine in their basements here in Chicago (quite an investment to do properly), but I don’t know anyone who makes their own beer.
So basic questions to start with: Let’s say I want to make a hoppy ale flavored with Amarillo or Cascade hops. What’s the minimal investment I’m looking at for the basic equipment? What books or starter kits would you recommend? Are certain beers more difficult to make than others, or is the process pretty much the same for each? How steep is the learning curve? Is it worthwhile to brew your own, that is, is it possible to make a high-quality product without very expensive or sophisticated equipment?
I’m just hesistant because I’ve seen some disasters of homebrewing which produced vaguely malt-and-hop flavored water, but nothing else. If I can’t produce a quality product, I’m not going to bother doing it at all.