count2infinity wrote:i think if you're just getting started, using a kit the first couple times would be fine wouldn't it? i mean we can't all just jump right in and start making great beer. you have to start from somewhere.
The 3-4 week wait for your first homebrew isn't fun; you want to taste your beer, right? You want to give it to your friends and say "I made beer...pretty cool, is it not"! Well, if it turns out that your beer is awful, how enthusiastic are you going to be to do it the next time?
As long as you accept that possibility, using a shelf kit the first time or two isn't a bad thing, I suppose. Once again, though, do your best to make sure it's fresh and stored properly...that's my recommendation because I don't necessarily know how the individual brands work.
In all honesty, though, I don't think that the specialty-grains and extract with pellet hops is that much more difficult a process:
1). Heat about 2 gallons of spring/filtered/pre-boiled water to about 160 degrees
2). Put your specialty grains in a muslin bag and steep them for about half an hour
3). Add a 3rd gallon, bring it to a boil and add your malt extract (I prefer dry because it's easier to work with, but liquid works too)
4). During a 60 minute boil, there are 3 main hop additions: bittering right at the beginning, flavor at 45 minutes in, and aroma with about 2 minutes to go
5). At the end of the boil, cool it down for the fermenter using an ice bath and 2 gallons of chilled water
6). Transfer to your fermenter, oxygenate, add yeast, put your airlock on and store (preferrably a darker place with relatively even temperature)
There's a few little extra things you'll add into there as you develop your own style, but that's pretty much it.