Contents of the Kit
Midwest Supplies recently had an offer on Groupon that allowed you to purchase their Brewing Basics Kit and a Beer Recipe Kit for around $40. I had been thinking about getting into homebrewing for a while and when I saw this I decided to go ahead and try it out. These kits come with just about everything you need, even material on how to properly brew beer (a book and DVD). The only other thing you need is a large brewing kettle and some bottles.
Beer Recipe Kit
Once I had it all unpacked and looked over what reading material the kit had to offer I started to look around on the internet for kettle options. It turns out that many people have had success using turkey fryers, they come with a large 7.5 gallon pot and a propane burner. There was some controversy for a while over using aluminum pots to boil wort but people have been using them successfully for years so I went ahead and bought one at Home Depot. It was simple enough to put together and seems like it should hold up well. I plan on putting in a ball valve to make it easier to drain out the wort after brewing so I can get around having to siphon it out.
Turkey fryer or Brew Kettle?
While at Home Depot I also picked up some supplies to make a counterflow cooler. These are used to cool off the wort after boiling before it is put into the fermentation chamber. This makes is so that the yeast can be added and the container sealed sooner that usual helping to prevent infection. The cooling off also helps prevent off flavors in the beer. Most of the plans that I found online were very similar but the forums at HomeBrewTalk.com had an howto that I really liked (this one). I started working on that today and got up until the point where I need to go find my propane torch wherever that is. I'll probably finish that up tomorrow.
Counterflow cooler in progress