stumbled on this site when i was looking up to gain some beer knowledge and it's incredible (and encouraging) how much activity a homebrew site is getting.
got into this hobby on a whim last xmas (2011) with the ubiquitous Mr Beer kit. meticulously followed the instructions and made a so-so batch of whatever that is they stick in the box. almost abandoned all hope for a year and was given a Mr Beer refill of their mexican and oktoberfest HMEs. made the mexican-whatever by the book again and got pretty much the same beer as last time.
BUT when it came to time to make the oktoberfest i decided to look at the premium recipes on Mr Beer and see if i could bump up the quality. boy that opened some doors!!
started googling random sites/posts regarding how to improve a Mr Beer batch. one thing led to another with light bulbs going off, and ended up in a beginners homebrew class yesterday. now i've taken my one can of oktoberfest HME, added a UME and an LME of pale, some Mt Hood hops, and some S-05 yeast. threw out the MB instructions and boiled the UME/LME for 20 minutes with the loose hops, cut the heat and stirred in the HME, crash cooled the whole thing before sticking in the LBK and pitching the S-05. that was just done today and looking forward to some good results from my third batch finally! the lesson today (learn something every time) was i need a funnel if i'm going to keep using the LBK, almost cried when the hops clogged my strainer and precious wort ran down the sides of the keg, such a tiny hole on top.
will probably stick to the LBK for now just cuz it's practically new, and i do like making the smaller batches since everything's been kinda lame so far. but i do like the idea of a whole wide open world of extracts and hops (and eventually grains). favorite beer by far is anything mega-hopped. that will be my next attempt, everything so far has been whatever someone's gifted me. looking forward to it!