I'm just getting started with home brewing. Are some types of beer easier to brew than others? Would you suggest starting with a certain type for my very first brew?
I would suggest a porter as your first beer (assuming it is a style that you like). There are a few reasons for this suggestion.
- Porter is an ale and ales are going to be easier than lagers due to equipment requirements.
- A porter is going to have a fairly simple recipe/grain bill. Fewer variables to work with mean fewer chances to go wrong.
- The chocolate malt has a strong enough flavor to mask some more minor flaws that you might encounter. A very light small beer is extremely hard to perfect as even the most minor issues will be fairly evident.
That said, the two biggest non-recipe things I'd keep in mind are be overly anal about cleanliness and use a quality yeast.
I would suggest with a more "normal" style of beer (don't start with a Barleywine or Double-IPA)
My first beer was a partial mash IPA and it turned out pretty well. I also did some partial mash cream ales early on too.
Having said that, my first batch of all grain was a Belgium Tripple and it was a great beer. The most important thing to think about when first starting brewing (and even after you've got quite a few brew-days under your belt) is to clean and sanitize everything, that's 9/10's of brewing.
As a general rule, any ale is easier than brewing a lager: it takes less time, and can ferment at room temperature.
Also, the smaller the number of ingredients the easier it is too, so that rules out anything with ingredients that need to prepared (ground up), steeped, or added the fermenter.
A basic Amber or Pale would be the easiest, I think.
I started off with a dark ale, and it turned out pretty well.
It really depends on temperature more than anything else. Measure the temperature in your "Brew Closet" over a few days, and tell your supplier what it is and how much it fluctuates. He or She can recommend a good kit for that temperature range.
When the bug finally bites you, you can then spend thousands of dollars on climate control so you can brew even the finickiest lagers.
I would start with a canned kit or a wort-in-a-bag kit. Go to your local homebrewing supply store and pick whichever style they have that interests you the most. If it's a canned kit and tells you to add sugar, use light dry malt extract instead. (But go ahead and use sugar for priming at bottling time.)
I'm not sure how available they are in the US, but "Brew House" wort-in-a-bag kits are very good, and very easy for getting started.