Before starting the hobby of Home brewing one should understand the three main methods of making beer at home or professionally.
1. The first method is Extract brewing. In a nutshell, Extract brewing consists of mixing a premade syrup of malt, which is referred to as Malt Extract oddly enough, with water and then boiled. Some Extracts come pre-hopped but most nowadays they don’t so hops are added to the boil. After roughly a 60 minute boil the wort, which is beer before its been fermented, is cooled to between 60-70 degrees, the Yeast is pitched(added) and a few weeks later the beer is ready to be bottled.
Other options include doing a full 5 gallon boil, most of the time this is done outside with a propane burner or a 2.5 gallon boil on the stove after which the remainder of the water is added which helps to cool the hot wort. The 2.5 gallon boil with extract requires the least amount of equipment and is suggested for beginning home brewers.
2. The second method builds on the first, Extract with grains. This method requires doing a mini-mash with a small portion of grains, usually in a gauze bag, for 30-60 minutes. The grains contribute very little fermentables but a lot of fresh grain flavor that might be missing in Extracts. Because there is only about a dozen different varieties of Malt Extract, Extract with grains opens up the possibility of brewing a wider range of beers. By adding Roasted Barley and Dark Crystal Malt you can make a Pale Malt Extract into a Stout Ale or by using Chocolate Malt and Medium Crystal Malt a Brown Ale.
While this method doesn’t require much more equipment it does make the brew day a little longer because of the mash time and a bit more ingredients, the grains and gauze bag.
3. The most advanced method is All Grain brewing. This style of brewing gets 100% of the fermentables from Mashing the grains, mostly malted barley, in a range of 149-158 degrees, the lower the temp the thinner the resulting beer, the higher the thicker. Not only does this style of brewing require more time because of a full 60 minute mash but also more equipment. The equipment can be as simple as using an igloo cooler as a mash tun and a crawfish pot as the boil kettle, however it is easy to spend thousands on a brew kit as well. All Grain is the method that nearly all professional breweries employ and most brewpubs.