Long time beer dork that's coming into the addiction for the first time. I've got the "How to Brew" 2d ed. book that I've read through.
I have the "Deluxe" kit here: http://www.brewersbestkits.com/pdf/Brewer's%20Best%20Equipment%20Kit%20111208%20TEMP. pdf, and also a 5 gallon brew pot and giant metal spoon.
I have a few questions though:
1) Can I brew a smaller batch than 5 gallons? That's a crapload of beer. Will a 2.5 gallon brew in 6.5 gallon buckets/5 gallon carboy be too subject to oxidization?
2) What's the difference between extract brewing that steeps grains in the water before the boil and partial mash? Partial mash somehow involves extra brew pots?
3) I see a lot of people recommending styles such as American Pale Ales or Red Ales as a first brew. I plan to do extract brewing (at least to start.) Is it possible to brew, well, something else? I enjoy imperial IPAs, milk stouts, Munich dunkels, Belgians, and porters/RIS (but typically coffee/vanilla/bb aged). If it's necessary to brew something super simple, fair enough, but I don't really want a case of cream ale.
4) Is there anything else I need equipment-wise, other than the kit, the 5 gallon brew pot, and the giant spoon, as far as brewing my first extract beer?
5) I have access to Whole Foods, which has a good amount of ingredients. I also have access to this store: Products. So if one could frame my shopping list in terms of that store, I'd appreciate it.
Thank you for all your help. This forum is a great resource!