I've brewed beer with other friends, but never on my own. I'm certain my first batch will have multiple issues. Most of my buddies started their firsts with Porters and Stouts. Any other recommendations for a good beer to start off as a lone-homebrewer?
What's your favorite style of beer?
As long as it's not something involved like a Lambic, or a fruit beer or something with a million adjuncts you should be fine.
Look for a recipe or ingredient kit for a style that you like that has a small amount of ingredients (malt extract, 1 or 2 kinds of hops, maybe an adjunct or two) and you should be good to go, talk to your brewing friends or the staff at your LHBS if you have any concerns.
Relax, don't worry, have a home brew (or maybe in your case a microbrew).
Pretty much all extract recipes have the same steps, just the ingredients are slightly different. The reason to start with a darker beer, like Amber or darker, is that the strength of the brew can cover up any minor mistakes that you made during the brew. (Minor being goofing up the hop schedule, or the boil time, etc.)
Don't worry, as long as you pay close attention to your sanitation, and follow the recipe, you should be fine.
I'd gotten the advice about a stout or a porter for a first-timer. Though I'm still a novice, I think the advice is a bit flawed.
I don't like porters at all. I only like one stout, Guinness, and I was not going to try to replicate that on my first time out. I chose an IPA because it was strongly hopped to hide any missteps, but the IPA did actually have some issues.
That question (about an imperial stout having a banana flavor) also puts the lie to stouts hiding off flavors. Yes, they have dark coloring and strong flavors, but those flavors aren't going to hide major defects, and major defects seem to come not from the fermentables, but from stressed or unhealthy yeast.
Accordingly, I'd put most of my effort not into making sure I pick a beer where my mistakes can hide, but into setting it up so that the yeast have every chance of succeeding. For me, if I had it to do again, an American amber ale, below 1050 OG, and a Wyeast smack-pack to make sure I get a good fermentation, and make sure to slosh it good to get some good aeration. A fast, strong fermentation with great yeast will lower the chance of contamination being an issue, and will produce fewer unintended flavors.
All that said, my brother-in-law did exactly what you're not supposed to do. For his first batch, he brewed an American lager straight off in his cold garage. They say not to try to replicate Bud because the off flavors have nowhere to hide. He said it turned out just fine. Not perfect, but totally drinkable. He's moving on to a pilsener for his second batch, and I expect it'll be okay, too.
My first batch was a Brewer's Best Red Ale kit. It's a simple-but-not-too-simple kit with LME, minimal specialty grains, and a couple kinds of hops. At the time I was only 23 and didn't have the most refined beer palate. I wasn't a Bud drinker; I just hadn't yet really learned what I liked. I knew that the idea of good beer intrigued me. I was also a fan of Good Eats, and the brewing episode got me excited a bouthomebrewing - a hobby I never knew existed until then. My wife (well, fiancee at the time) got me the complete starter kit from our LHBS which included your choice of Brewer's Best kit. She chose the red ale I think because that's what AB brewed. I'd recommend any ale kit like this one - LME, specialty grains, one or two hops - is a great first batch. Pick the kit that matches the kind of beer you like.
I would go for something that isn't too complex. A simple brown ale or amber ale would be good. The reason I suggest that instead of pilsner is because the majority of new homebrewers start out with extract kits. They tend to darken in the boil and brown or amber ales are a nice way for them to get comfortable with brewing without worrying too much about color. If they start out with all grain, a pilsner or simple american ale would work well in this case.
Most ales need pretty much the same steps. I suggest you don't start with a lager or pilsner since there are already too many things to see in practice before you get into lagering. Watch out for sanitation mainly. As Julie said, a stout, porter or other malty ale will be easier because its strong taste will cover up some mistakes. Don't get anxious, your beer will be much better than the once you buy from the market!
I ended up with a recipe package from More Beer... Jim Baumann's Milk Stout. Seems fairly easy, just got to get an adapter and a hose for my kettle's spigot and I should be good to go.
Ales are a lot easier to start with than lagers. You can pick just about any style you like and find a basic recipe that will make good beer. Some ideas, if you like:
hoppier beers, try a simple pale maltier beers, go with a brown or amber ale roasty beers, you can try a stout or porter belgian/wheat, wit beer is the way to go
None of these beers will be outside your abilities on a first try with an extract or extract/steeping recipe. Will it be the best beer you ever tasted? Maybe not, but you'll like it.