From the HBD Archive
From: wang!mds@uunet.UU.NET (pri=8 Marc San Soucie ms 019-890 x76723)
Subject: Getting Started
Date: 1989-06-12 17:37:46 GMT

Paul A. Ebersman asks about:

1) Instruction/Recipe books worth having
2) Are kits the way to start? Which kits work well?
3) Mail order companies that have pieces/parts/yeasts, etc.

1. There are scads of books available, most of them from any homebrew shop,
and each will impart some measure of useful wisdom. The Complete Joy Of
Homebrewing is quite efficient at providing knowledge and reason for
enthusiasm, though I found it fell short of serving as a pure startup
guide. Turns out nothing works really well as a startup guide, but most
books, read with some interpretation, will get you going. Experienced
brewers seem to like David Line's book, but it's easy to get lost in
its more analytical aspects. Whatever you do, don't buy a kit and follow
its directions word for word. Well, actually you can, but results will
be better with more sophisticated techniques than most kit labels suggest.

Recipes can be copied verbatim from any book, or, for more inventive fun,
read a stack of recipes and interpolate. After reading 30 or 40 amber ale
and pale ale recipes, it becomes pretty easy to figure out how to put
together one's own recipe. I haven't followed a recipe word for word
yet, and I'm quite satisfied with my results.

2. The difference between kit brewing and "from scratch" malt extract brewing
is fairly slight, amounting chiefly to use of fresh leaf or pellet hops
instead of hopped kit extracts. Brewing from scratch gives you your choice
of yeast, though no corporate lawyers will whale on you for using a kit
yeast with a different can or bag of extract, or kit malts with your own
yeast and hops. Read a stack of recipes, read a passel of kit labels, and
pick something that looks like it will be fun to do. Just about everything
tastes good if you come close to doing it right.

3. My local supplier does a thriving mail-order business, as do many others
around the country. Best bet is to look in the phone book for a place.
Failing that, find a copy of Zymurgy magazine and scan the ads. Failing
that, call Karin Baker at the number below. I haven't dealt with her
by mail much, but she's great to deal with in person.

Beer & Wine Hobby
22B Cranes Court
Woburn, Ma. 01801
617-933-8818 or 800-523-5423

Good luck - good beer is worth a little effort.

Marc San Soucie
The John Smallbrewers

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