I would advise start with LHBS.Where do you get your hops and grains? I'm almost ready to do my first brew... I have a LHBS
This ^^^I would advise start with LHBS.
I always use LHBS for grain. For hops, it's combination of LHBS and bulk orders from yakima valley, more beer, Farmhouse Brewing Supply.
My LHBS has very good prices on grain - much cheaper than any pre-packaged kits, by a factor of 2 or so. And I can mill the grains at LHBS, increase/decrease the base malt, tweak contributions, etc.
Hops are more expensive at LHBS than by bulk online - by buying in bulk I can save considerably (probably a factor of 2 or so), but it also requires brewing regularly (otherwise most hops don't get used), assembling a wide variety and using hops in fairly large volumes to pay off. You may also need storage (freezer, vacuum sealer).
For your first 5-6 brews, before you get some idea of your process, I would advise going to LHBS. They can help you with grain, hops, yeast etc. and you will get a better feel for the process than getting a random kit with instructions in the mail. I bet you the LHBS is cheaper too (and you are supporting local business), but I see how getting a kit in the mail is more convenient.
I am generally against mail-order kits because they stifle creativity in recipe design. I like going to LHBS and deciding - what would happen if I pitch this yeast instead? Or increase this malt and decrease this one? Or use different hop variety? Maybe you shouldn't do this on your first few brews, but LHBS purchases are always very flexible, and you are learning along the way - while the kits teach you to follow instructions but you never stop to think why you are doing what you are doing.
Same here, partly because I don't have a LHBS. There is one place kinda close that sells some home brewing supplies and I will occasionally pick up some small equipment items there. But some of the ingredients look like they have been sitting on the shelf for years. I can order from the above two sites, have a huge selection, and get my stuff within days.
There are ways around the shipping. Buy for your next few brews at the same time. NB has a flat shipping rate, and morebeer has free shipping on orders over $59. Plus if you have patience there are always sales, stock up when they have them. I agree, $50 for a 6 gallon brew is crazy, unless it's some big beer or lots of hops. My last buy from NB was three 5 gallon kits for $60. That was a sale of course, but they have it pretty often.Grains online sound cheap at first but the shipping is a killer. Buy a 50 pound bag of 2 row,its the most common grain and will surly get used and save you money buying in bulk.Hops buy online by the pound. Maybe start wilh some cascade or your "basic" hops.Plus cascade are real cheap.If your spending $50 on a 6 gallon batch your WAYYY over priced and doing it wrong.I brew 10 gallon batches and Average $50,so half price to what your doing.My beers are 1.060 beers and under
The flat rate shipping doesn't apply to bulk grains.Ive never seen free shipping ANYWHERE for bulk grains.There are ways around the shipping. Buy for your next few brews at the same time. NB has a flat shipping rate, and morebeer has free shipping on orders over $59. Plus if you have patience there are always sales, stock up when they have them. I agree, $50 for a 6 gallon brew is crazy, unless it's some big beer or lots of hops. My last buy from NB was three 5 gallon kits for $60. That was a sale of course, but they have it pretty often.