The holidays are winding down and as you spend your gift cards and take back those clothes that don't fit, the Mr. Beer Kit you got for Christmas is staring you in the face. You got the kit from your parents who knew you loved beer and also remember how "creative" you were from your second grade art projects.
As you stash the kit away and chalk it up as another valuable for your junk room, don't be too quick to let this one go. Craft beer is something you enjoy, so just because you pay a premium for it at the store, doesn't mean you cannot make it yourself.
The kits are a great first step into the world of home brewing. These kits offer great step by step instructions and include just about everything you will need to brew up the first batch. So you get motivated and create your first batch and now you're begging for more, but you're not sure where to get started.
There are several resources out there that will get you on your way.
1) Books - A few that are referenced frequently by homebrewers are "How to Brew: Everything You Need to Know to Brew Right the First Time" by John Palmer, "The Complete Joy of Homebrewing" by Charlie Papazian, and "Brewing Better Beer: Master Lessons for Advancaed Homebrewers" by Gordon Strong. These books offer great explanations of the process, tips and tricks, as well as some sample recipes to follow.
2) Local Homebrewing Stores - Adventures in Homebrewing with locations in Taylor and Ann Arbor and Hopman's Beer & Wine Making in Waterford are some examples. These stores offer the knowledge and resources to help you with everything you will need from recipe ingredients and equipment to homebrewing lessons.
3) Online forums/websites - The American Homebrewer's Association offers the everyday homebrewer information about upcoming homebrew events and contests, the latest equipment, and forums to ask questions to fellow brewers. Homebrewtalk.com offers a large forum for brewers to post topics on discussions boards and download clone recipes and recipes uploading by fellow brewers.
After checking out these resources you can start to grow your love for craft beer into a hobby that has endless possibilities. With so many different grains, hops, yeast, and spices/flavors out there, the craft beer homebrewer can easily keep busy. So before you stash that Mr. Beer Kit, remember there's a world of craft beer out there waiting to be discovered by your thirsty friends!