Moved my first batch (it's a Baron's Premium Amber Ale no-boil kit) into the secondary 3 days ago, looks and smells good, though it does look pretty cloudy. Can't wait to prime and bottle.
Anyway --- I've made probably 30 batches of wine in the past (kits, concentrates, and fresh fruit), but this is my first try with beer.
I did a fair amount of research, but due to lack of time, space, & funds, I decided to forego buying a brew pot & burner and just bought a no-boil kit to get my feet wet.
Here's how the process of wine and beer compare so far, for those who may wonder ---
1. As far as ingredients go, they're pretty damned close. You can make wine from almost anything (seriously, I've made lettuce wine - it was better than it sounds). With wine, you can start with almost any base and tinker until you've got a proper acid and sugar balance then you just pitch the yeast. Beer seems to be a little more restrictive, but not greatly so --- feel free to correct me here, I'm interested in learning.
2. The preparation and primary fermentation process is highly similar. With some wines, there is some cooking involved. With beer, there is always cooking involved. Once you get the temp and the SG correct, you pitch to the primary and wait it out -- different beers and wines have different ideal temps. Both develop a head that eventually drops.
3. Here's where they diverge --- secondary with beer seems to be quick and uneventful -- again, correct me if I'm wrong. Secondary with wine is much more involved --- there is an actual secondary fermentation...the airlock goes crazy for several more days, then you rack into another carboy and the waiting begins -- anywhere from 1-6 more months with several more rackings. For some wines, there is an additional fermentation to bring out certain flavors, but most are done after primary & secondary.
4. Bottling is basically identical with one exception. Even though you may add some sugar to your "finished" wine, it's to enhance flavor and balance, not to prime for carbonation. Therefore, it's usually accompanied by an additive/stabilizer to make sure the yeast is dead.
5. They both taste great and make you feel good - unless you drink too much of them.
6. Poor Richard's Almanac alternated as to which one was "proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
Just thought I'd throw this out there in case anybody is interested.