After having a friend who had been brewing for years, and making phenomenal beer intrigued, he moved away, I had to take up the hobby. I'm a more than busy Doctoral student, and just never seemed to find a spare weekend to pick up the necessary supplies. This past X-mas my girlfriend bought me a 1 gallon kit from www.brooklynbrewery.com (she lives in Brooklyn). These are AG one gallon batches. I brewed up about three batches of these, and felt that I was ready for 5 gallon batches.
So over the past few months I have been accumulating the necessary equipment, and reading this forum, and the Palmer book as if it were a religion. This past saturday I decided to do my first big batch. The aforementioned friend had given me a Sweetwater 420 clone recipe, and it seemed like a good first batch.
A couple of notes on my equipment. I converted a round cooler for a Mash tun, and have a Bayou Classic sp-10 burner, along with a 30 qt pot.
I am happy, and a bit surprised to report the brewday went smoothly. I would like to say, that the cooler converted Mash Tun, is a godsend (found on the wiki, search for Mash Tun). It makes life so much easier, and its cheap and easy to convert. I had used grain bags for the one gallon batches, and I just never really like that set up. Mashing and sparging are a breeze with the cooler, and the temp stayed EXACTLY where I wanted for the whole mashing, didn't lose one degree.
I was a bit worried about the 30 qt. pot, as some on the forum have mentioned that it might be too small. It was perfect. The usual foam occurred, but once the hot break happened it settled down and had a perfect rolling boil for 60 minutes.
I pitched and put her away, and the next morning she was bubbling away.
I attribute the success of this first large batch to a few things. First the advice on this forum was invaluable, and I thank all of you for that. Secondly, cutting my teeth on the small AG batches was key. Instead of weening myself off extract, which seems like a great plan, starting off with AG sort of taught me the ropes of mashing and sparging. Lastly, the Palmer book is a must have. Those of you who are just starting, get that book, really GO NOW.
Again thanks for the advice, and no that you have helped create a monster, and I am beyond hooked.