Anyone have any links that lay out the brewing process.... I have a decent understanding of wine making... how similar is the process? Also how long does it generally take to make a batch of beer Vs a batch of wine?
Speaking as a complete newbie of solo beerbrewing (I just did my first kit, an extract on Sunday) it pays to read the How-to-brew. It gives a great overview and it's really clear and it was pretty easy to follow.
Is it jsut me or is beer and wine two sides of a very addictive coin?
Those "Bag O Worts" do a decent job but i would still replace the dry packet of yeast that comes with it with a Wyeast or White Labs liquid yeast and it will fare much better. You do not need a C02 system for beer but it sure makes things much easier as you only have to sanitize 1 conatiner instead of dozens of beer bottles. Plus I love beer on tap way better then bottled beer and you can carbonate the beer to level you want it and not rely on carb tablets or waiting till the beer is properly bottle conditioned. Setting up for all grain brewing can get expensive and if I were you start small with a few of the basics but either go cheap with your pot or go big so the small pot wont be a waste of money later when you upgrade. You can build most of the stuff for all grain brewing your self over time. The kits like true Brew and the like can produce a very good beer and win medals all the time and thats where I would start.
No disrespect to Wade here, but the dry yeasts can make excellent beer too. It really depends on what you're making. Many beers don't get anything 'special' from their yeast, so for those I always use a quality dry yeast.
For beers that do need a special yeast...get it. It will make a better beer, that's proper to BJCP style guidelines.
The only beer kits that I have seen with Muntons yeast were Muntons kits.
Coopers cans obviously have Coopers yeast. Brewhouse, and Brewers Spring kits definitely use Coopers yeast. I believe that Barons uses Coopers yeast (its been a few years since I made one).
I know that a lot of brewers dislike Coopers yeast, but some seem to like the Muntons.
The Festa Brew brand (23 litre wort kit) uses Safale or Saflager according to their web-site. I have read a lot of positives about Safale and Saflager but have never tried it. Want to make one of the Festa Brew lagers, if I can find a retailer.
I've bought Brewer's Best kits and they contained Muntons...at least the 3 kits I bought.
I then went full grain and started using Danstar and Fermentis dry yeasts, or the occasional vial of White Labs...and a couple of smack pack Wyeast for Kolsch and a Wit.
Fermentis (safale/saflager) is a very high quality dry yeast, and they've been putting out some interesting strains including S-33 and T-58. The only lager attempt I made (on the landing to my unfinished basement in late February) turned out very tastey and clean.
Just thought I'd weigh in on the topic albeit a couple months late. Pick up "How To Brew" by John Palmer. It's a must, IMO, for someone considering getting into the hobby.
As far as dry yeast goes, I use US-05 exclusively for IPAs and the like when I want a nice clean flavor. If I'm making a hefe or stout or something where the yeast is supposed to have a good deal of emphasis on the beer's flavor profile, I'll use a liquid yeast. For cost and simplicity (no starter needed), I like using dry yeast.
The most important part of the brewing process IMO is fermentation temperature control so make sure you understand it and have something in mind.
Wow, can't believe I missed this post. The How to Brew suggestion is great. That was my learning Bible. FOr yeasts, the Fermentis yeasts are great. I use the US-05 and SA-04 a lot. 05 is American Ale yeast and the 04 is English ale yeast. I have used the Saflager S-23 before to with great results. If you are just brewing a lager and not trying to mimic a particular beer it is a really clean fermenting yeast.