Originally Posted by mrdonbonjovi
As mentioned by Mirage above, watching yeast go crazy in beer is its own amazing spectacle. Because of this important memory, its hard for me to recommend a white bucket for the primary (unless youre already over that). If youre not all revved up on getting your equipment now, try using freshly emptied 5 gal plastic water bottles (for primary and secondary) for a few rounds. They are effectively free, and cleaning is so darn easy (you just return them). Youll just need a couple of #10 plugs to put air-locks in, assuming you want to rack to a secondary [which some would debate as even being needed], and a little bottling stick (now you can just use Coopers drops). Thats the ghetto rout.
Sounds like you may go with white plastic though. If so, and if you use Iodophor, be sure to follow directions so you dont stain your rig forever. I would just install spigots down the line vs. using the auto-siphon. But since I started with carboys, the auto-siphon just changed everything. It was miracle product in like 2002 or whatever and to my mind is essential equipment. If you want to ferment to smaller 1 gal carboys, youll need the smaller diameter version too.
I dare say the biggest purchase mistake homebrewers claim making is getting anything less than a 30qt (7.5 gal) SS brew kettle. It doesnt sound like youre a quitter; so youll grow into it. Some may scoff at the large size, but Ill bet even more people would up that to a 10gal. I have a cheesy electric home stove, yet can get a vigorous boil with a full batch, uncovered, no problem (albeit at sea level).
Do you have a ref. to support a 5 gal keg? Since you mentioned the keg, you may want to just use that as your secondary and force carbonate. In that way you can save a bucket (and the hassle). Then if you get a Blickman gun, you dont need the bottling bucket either nor the hassle of priming beer or having to wait three weeks for conditioning. Sometimes expensive equipment saves money. As my roommate said when I queried him about his new $250 wingtip shoes, he said: I dont make enough money to buy cheap shoes. A classic truth! So beware the bumpkin too, who might try to steer you away from prideful ownership of quality gear that you will use to brew with your children and possibly grandchildren. I suspect the majority of long time homebrewers regret under spending and wanting upgrades than over spending up front. Sure, you dont need any of this, but do you want it? Throw some perspective in: how many gallons of beer a year do you expect to make?
Lastly, regardless of what anyone says, and particularly if youre doing smaller batches, I highly recommend completely bypassing the whole hydrometer hassle and just throwing another $20 at it and getting a Brix. Getting a few drops of liquid is just so much easier than getting out a cup or whatever to measure at various points. It pays for itself quickly in beer and time (and elegance.) Be sure and get the right model for homebrewing. Different models have different visual scales inside.
What I would do is go to your closest homebrew shop, if you are blessed to have one within driving distance, and patron them with your business. This will go a long way to helping your beer taste better (Read: the flow of knowledge.) That being said, the two exceptions of all your equipment may be the SS kettle and the Brix, which can be as much as half price on Amazon and eBay respectively, which is where I got mine.
(Wait those are the only things I really mentioned. Some would say, Its the thought that counts. Also, Im totally new to this board, so probably should STFU and read more before I post. I just wish someone would have written me this email when I was staring off as cliché as that sounds.)
Lastly, let me make it very clear that Isla scotch (preferably Lagavulin or Laphroig) is what land wights prefer in air-locks (would you want just water?). Indeed the wee people consume some over the course of a couple weeks. Your beer cannot be guaranteed to be looked over by them if you skimp on the air-lock juice.
Good luck in the great quest!