So I've been doing Mr. Beer for about 2 years. I received a 5 gallon kit from Midwest for Christmas and I'm working through my first batch. I've been aspiring to get the 5 gallon setup so I can move on to real beer, but life's been getting in the way.
Tonight is brew night on my first batch. Overall the process is slightly more complex than Mr. Beer (Specialty grain, partial boil, etc.) but I find it very enjoyable. I've only experienced a few issues so far. Here's what I've learned:
1. Lid on = good recipe for boilover. Luckily I caught it within seconds and didn't cause too much of a mess. Should I throw my lid away?
2. The muslin sack that comes with it is insufficient. I need to buy a few nice re-usable ones.
3. I haven't gotten to that part yet, but I believe that I'll buy a crash chiller for my next batch.
4. Don't spill your specialty grains when pouring them into the sack. If you do, your going to boil them for a while, so they'll probably get sanitized. I scooped them up and stuck them back in the bag
Don't tell anyone that might drink this stuff in the future.
5. I 've heard "Relax, have a homebrew" as the key to brewing. I may have gotten this wrong by drinking 3 microbrews instead. Imperial stouts the lot of them. We'll see how that turns out. (FYI Northern Coast Imperial Stout is a bit hoppy for me, but Victory Imperial Stout was within reason. I'm by no means a hop-head, but the Northern was just too much. I went out to get Sierra Nevada's Narwhal, which is in my top 3 beers, but they ran out yesterday. Insert sad-face here.)
6. Having a wireless thermometer is very handy. I bought it for grilling and it also works for brewing
Anyways, 16 minutes left on the boil. I'll try to post back here as I encounter post-worthy events.