Well, after about a two year battle with "the Beer Machine", I have stepped up to the real thing. My wife bought me a beer machine for x-mas two years ago. It produced something beer-like that was even drinkable for one of the 6 batches. It did not make "beer", but it did set the hook for wanting more. Unfortunately, when I mentioned making real beer, my wife had visions of exploding bottles in the basement.
Flash forward to last week when she was watching Food Network. Alton Brown (Good Eats) was making beer. She called me in to watch and in the next half hour she totally changed her outlook. That looks fairly easy and sounds like a fun hobby.
The next day, I found a nice brewing supply place about an hour away. We headed out to "Cap 'N' Cork" for a look-see. The owner showed us around, explained everything and set me up with a great starter kit : 6-gallon plastic primary, 5-galon glass carboy secondary, airlock, autosiphon, bottle filler, bottle washer, bottle and carboy brushes, cleaner, idophor, carboy strap carrier, bottling bucket with spigot, thermometer, hydrometer, tubing, capper, two cases of 12oz longnecks, case of blue 160z flip tops, the Complete Joy of Home Brewing (3rd ed.), a Brewers Best Kit, strainer bag for the hops, and two logo pint glasses to enjoy the first batch.
Well, the first batch I decided on was the Brewers Best Irish Red Ale. It was a partial grain, malt extract kit. The brew went well, and the primary is sitting in the basement bubbling away for the second straight day. I plan on doing the secondary fermentation as well, then bottling. Can't wait to "Relax, not worry and have a homebrew!"