So, where does one get started with homebrewewing beer? It may seem daunting at first, expensive, sounds like it is easy to go wrong, possibly even dangerous - but it really is not. If you are able to follow relatively easy cleaning and sanitation procedures, and know your way around a kitchen, you are off to a good start. And, you can brew some great beer for much less than you buy it. I can easily stay under a dollar a bottle - and could probably cut that almost in half buying ingredients in bulk.
I started out for under $125, and that included the ingredients for my first brew as well. And it came out very good. There are two things you need to do before you get started - read, and read more. And very little that you truly "need" to be able to start. I started out with a simple equipment kit that cost me about $70. It consisted of two buckets - one for fermentation and one for bottling, some hose, a racking cane and bottle filler, a hand capper, and some cleaner. To this I added some sanitizer (I really like StarSan ad it has never failed me) and a kettle - I got a "scratch and dent" one for $25 because I didn't have a big enough pot. If you have anything big enough to boil 3.5+ gallons already you can start with that. For the first batch, I picked up whatever was the least expensive ingredient kit that was available at the time. Hey, if I was going to mess up, I wanted to minimize my loss!
While I was waiting for everything t come I started preparing bottles for my future brew. I had saved up a bunch (Well, I had been lazy and not recycled them yet really...) and just needed to clean them. A really good soak for bottles is Oxyclean free (the non fragrance one) and hot water. Now, I start with hot water - but the subsequent batches of bottles to soak go right into the already used and now cold water. Let them soak for a while - I like overnight because it's super easy - and most of the time the labels will literally fall right off. Glue and all. Pull them out, since with warm water, and let them dry. The rinse is important, because any remaining oxyclean will dry on and you don't want it in your beer. What I did was fill a pitcher with warm water, and dunk them, filling them up, then dip them out as they came out of the oxyclean bath. Make sure they don't still feel slippery - thats a sign of still having a coating of oxyclean on them. Using a large cooler, after about a week of spending 15 minutes a night I had close to 100 bottles ready to go. 100 bottles is enough for two 5 gallon batches
Bottles clean? Good. Equipment came? Great! You are ready to start your home-brew addiction.