Beer making has a long and varied history through out the world. From individuals making a couple of cases at home in the kitchen to large industrial sites that produce hundreds of cases per hour. That you want to home brew says that you have tried a couple of different beers and thought you would like to taste something different, or that you could do better. Don't worry! Homebrewing isn't that hard. It does require patience and some attention to detail. But don't stress out. As a sage once put it: Relax, Don't worry, have a homebrew!
Below you will find a collection of articles discussing the different aspects to homebrewing. Feel free to look through them.
Foreword to the Student
Welcome to the world of home beer brewing! This wikibook aims to help you, the student, become a well rounded and versed master home brewer. It is recommended that you use this book as part of a class led by an experienced instructor, who can lead you through the book and assist you in practical application of the information contained therein. However, determined students will certainly be able to use this material to be their own instructor, and in such case, you should probably read the instructor foreword. Beer brewing is an exciting and mind opening process, and will allow you to refine your tastes for beer by better understanding the hows, the whys, and the history of beer production.
Foreword to the Instructor
As an instructor, you are carrying on an ancient tradition. It is imperative that you impart your charge with as much appreciation and as much enthusiasm for beer making as you should have. This book aims to be a complete discourse on the entire beer making process, and to avoid repeating identical material it has been organized in a "grain to stein" fashion. Unfortunately, this organization will prove to push too much information too soon to entice a beginner and get him on the road to making a quality beer.
So, for the instructor (and students instructing themselves), here is a recommended path through this book: Cleaning/Sanitization, Procedures, Equipment, Boiling, Cooling, Fermentation, Bottling/Kegging, Ingredients, Mashing, Lautering, Cultivation, Malting. It is assumed that this path will be accompanied with relevant lectures and exercises, to reinforce the material and affect a better understanding. For the self instructing brewer, we recommend that you follow this path, reading at least to the point of fermentation before performing your first "brew-day," while paying attention to procedures relating to extract brewing. Once you have pitched yeast, you will have at least 2 weeks to read the bottling/kegging section, and decide how you intend to finish your beer. Natural bottle carbonation is the least expensive way, but it is also the easiest with which to make mistakes resulting in sub-standard beer (or exploding bottles, which is fun). A kegging system is quite an investment, especially for first timers who may find that homebrewing is not the hobby for them, but it is the most straight forward method, often producing a more consistent quality beer.
Once the self instructing student has become comfortable with the simplified process using extract, we recommend he continue learning about the rest of the process and at least try to produce an "all-grain" brew. Little additional equipment required, while the resulting beer can be several orders of quality and freshness better than an extract brew from comparable initial ingredients, not to mention that per-batch costs can even go down.