So finally decide to just buy a kit, the Deluxe Glass Kit from Northern Brewer, and start making beer. I have been thinking about it for a couple of years and the time finally worked out right to take the plunge.
Started out with the Cream Ale extract kit from NB as I wanted something easy for my first batch and also something that would be great on a hot day. Everything went just fine - that is until reading the Hydrometer for the first time. The recipe called for an OG of 1.04 and I read the Hydrometer as 1.4 at first!! So what do I do? Add more water of course!! It took until I added almost a full gallon more that I realized I was reading the gauge wrong and I was at the right OG of 1.04, hah. Turns out my first batch might be just a little more watery than expected. Also took a while to cool down to under 100 degrees - think it was almost 30 minutes. Learned from that and will cool it differently next time.
The only other thing is in the house it is hard to find a room that stays under 80 degrees right now as we are hitting the 90's and up in MN right now. No AC in house as it is radiant heat so keeping the fermentor at a good temp is going to be tough. Set up a 'swamp cooler' hoping that helps a bit.
Anyways - here are some pics
from the first go! Already thinking about and looking forward to round 2.