I am pretty new to the homebrewing life, as I've brewed only 1 beer so far (and haven't even drunk it yet... Still bottle conditioning). A friend of mine is interested in getting into homebrewing as well; so I told him to get an extract kit and we'd brew it up. He chose this kit here: http://www.midwestsupplies.com/homebrewing-ingredients/recipe-kits/amber-ales/irish-red-ale.html
Which of course led me inevitably to a couple questions (as my first kit was a simple American Ale and had no grains).
-The kit says to add a minimum 1.5-2 gallons of water for the steeping of the specialty grains; but if you have a larger pot and can boil more to do so. Does this include more water for steeping, or should the water level for that remain lower? I have a good SS 5 gallon pot and would plan on boiling 3.5-4 gallons to minimize water i have to add in the fermentor; but I don't want to steep in 4 gallons if that's the wrong way.
-What exactly is Sparging? I think I've gotten the general idea but so far I haven't been able to find any clear directions on this (searches lead mainly to other questions about sparging
) Do I need to do this for an extract kit or is just steeping and draining enough?
-My first brew, the Northern Brewer American Wheat Ale kit; seemed to come out pretty well so far, but it was quite a bit darker than I expected. This time, I'd like to try late addition brewing; should I divide the LME in half and do half at 60 minutes and half at 15; or should I divide it further? Like 25% at 60 and the remaining at 15 or so?
-Last one: I got Wyeast for this kit; I have no yeast culturing equipment so I am wondering if I should try to make a starter with part of the LME in the kit? Or if (assuming the Wyeast pack "wakes up" well) I should just pitch it? Is there an easy "no nonsense" way to do a starter without any extra gear? Yeast starter bits are among my next purchases, just haven't been able to yet...
Thanks in advance for any assistance you can provide