I made another beer. A while ago actually. Caity bought a kit for me from Midwest home brewing for my birthday, part grain part extract, for Pumpkin Ale. Just in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas... if it lasts that long.
So, here's the deal with these kits: they're a ton of fun, they have everything but the water, and they're super easy. Also, you don't need a ton of equipment--in fact, if you have what it takes to make a five gallon batch of wine, then you're pretty much set to make a five gallon batch of beer except, I suppose, for bottles, caps, and a capper, all of which are cheap, and bottles can be free if you've got a few friends willing to donate them to a good cause. I think that was a run-on sentence.
Anyway, with these kits, you basically crush up your grains with a rolling pin, put 'em in a boiling bag, and steep them in a few gallons of water for fifty minutes at about 150 degrees, like a big tea bag. Then you add in your malt extract and sugar, and bring it to a boil. Then you add in your hops, and let it keep boiling for about an hour. Then for the last five minutes, you add in some more hops--aroma hops. Then you cool it all down, put it in your bucket, fill it up to five gallons, pitch your yeast, and you're on your way to having beer! It takes more time than some wine... it takes less time than some wines, but what I like is that the payoff is so fast. You can be drinking your homemade beer in a month's time.
This beer is taking a little longer to clear for me, I made it back on October 3, my birthday. I'm making a guess and saying its because of the pumpkin juice having lots of pectin in it, but it tastes grand. A little hoppier than the Irish Red ale that I made not too far back. It's amazing that for less than 50 cents a bottle, you can make much, much, much better beer than you can buy in the store.
If you're a winemaker that appreciates beer, consider giving home brewing a try, the kits are a great way to start!
PS. I also just brewed a Belgian style wheat beer with orange peel and coriander the other day; I put the recipe together myself. I'll post it sometime in the next week or so, and hopefully you home brew buffs can check it out and give me some feedback!