Well before we jump into the deep end of emptying grain hops & yeast into a big pot of water, there's no harm in doing some homework and getting a bit of a plan going! In a nutshell, my plan is to start off with the home brew basics and move on from there, adding extra steps to the process.
As some of us know, the best thing about this day & age is that the internet is a vast keg of knowledge which can easily be tapped. YouTube is a great resource for seeing the different methods of home brewing being done right in front of you. There's a lot of comprehensive videos that will go thought each step with you Another great resource, especially for those who might not know an experienced brewer in person but has a lot of questions about specific methods, are community forums. Best have a look out there for local forums. Myself I've found a few Irish based sites such as Boards.ie, Beoir.org and nationalhomebrewclub.com. Boards is a general forum but has a dedicated home brew section. The latter two as well as hosting a forum also have a great a knowledge base of information on brewing techniques, they also host meetings/events and write up on interesting articles about what's going on in the Irish Craft Beer community. There's also some decent books out there too for those who like to leave the laptop off. One that I've seen being recommended time & time again is "How to Brew" by John Palmer. There's a free online version also but I have the book on the Christmas wishlist, just to have something handy. There's plenty of more books out there with recipes and other info.
I'll be putting up a blog post very soon with an overview of the common methods of home brewing. Once things move on and I've actually done a few different brews myself, I'll be adding section to Underdog brewing with some info for those looking to start off.
For equipment, depending on where you're based, you can either shop online or visit your local home brew store. It seems that there is a bigger market for home brewing in countries like USA & UK so home brew stores would be more common. In Ireland there are about a handful around the country so unless you live near one your best bet is to get online, delivery is very reasonable and quite prompt.
Once a bit of research is done, no harm in setting a rough plan together. Just something to aim for in the short term, once that goal is achieved, set another plan out on what your next move will be. As I'm starting off, I'm currently doing a lot of research on home brewing, though it's not absolutely necessary there's no harm in seeing what the common mistakes are and learn from others. After Christmas, I'll begin my first brew, keeping it simple. Once I get the hang of extract brewing (which I'll explain in my next post) the aim by Summer/Autumn 2014 is to stock a few different brews that I've made and have a home version of a Craft Beer Festival for friends. This way I can see what they will think of the beer I'm making. Regardless of the outcome, it will be a bit of craic and free beer for everyone there! From there on, we'll soon see what the next plan is...