You'll get a case out of 3 gallons so it may be worth just bottling the whole thing; besides it will give you some valuable experience with priming, bottling and conditioning.
The best way to get good at all this is to read, reread, read some more, do it, read again... well, you get my point
. It's a complicated science and art, so the more knowledge you gather the better you'll be.
I'm from Kentucky and got into all of this when I did a project for culinary school. I made a ginger beer for a project in International Cooking and had the whole class ****faced (instructor included) during our final. It's easy to get an "A" when the instructor is "feeling good."
I found I like home brewing and have been obsessed with it since. I've only been doing it about 6 months, though, so I'm hardly the end all, be all of brewing knowledge; I learn something new everyday.
Like I said, brewing can be complicated but stick with it and you'll make some great beer. Plus it's fun throwing a "BYOHB" (Bring Your Own Home Brew) party. We had some friends over at my girlfriend's place and I made dinner with all the home brew I made. Inside of an hour it turned into a Roman Festival and I think I had somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 empty bottles for just 6 of us. Everyone had a great time.
Brewing software isn't required but it's a nice luxury, especially when learning. A good free recipe calculator is Beer Calculus
, but I use BeerSmith
which is fantastic once you get past its steep learning curve.
Good books to peruse are How to Brew
, like I mentioned previously and if you want a good print one The Brewmaster's Bible
by Stephen Snyder has good beginning info but is really valuable for the hundreds of recipes it has in it. It's nice for seeing what ingredient commonalities there are within a particular style.
Another resource I would recommend is the BJCP's Style Guidelines
. There you'll see what is generally accepted for a particular style when it comes to competition settings. That's not to say you need to be a slave to their numbers or wishes, but it's good for knowing where the boundaries lie within a particular style.
Finally, Wyeast's Home Page
has a lot of good info, particularly concerning yeast, that I reference almost daily. Brew Your Own Magazine
also has a ton of articles covering almost every facet of brewing, from beginner to advanced, so you should certainly check them out as well.
Oh, one last thing: I've made plenty of mistakes, so never let them discourage you!