« on: September 01, 2010, 12:37:09 PM »
First of all, welcome to this obsession. Unfortunately in my case, I'm pretty sure my homebrewing hasn't saved me any money. I suppose there are times when I reuse yeast and brew a low gravity, lightly hopped beer that it can be cheap, but there is an awful lot of equipment to be amortized to get the cost below what I can buy beer for. That said, for the most part, I prefer my own beer to a good percentage of the commercial stuff.
For a beginning homebrewer, I think you are okay skipping a carboy and skipping using a secondary vessel at all. There are a whole lot of homebrewers who only use secondaries in specialized circumstances. That said, keep an eye on craigslist to see if you can track down some inexpensive equipment in your area. I got my first kegging system for a hundred bucks at a garage sale.
I don't have very much experience with kits, but I think you should be fine choosing a reasonably simple sounding recipe that you find elsewhere. My first time brewing was at a U-Brew place and the beer was an IPA. It was great and I was hooked. If you have a particular IPA that is your favorite, I would encourage you to find a clone recipe for it. For me, IPAs are all about adding lots of hops very late in the boil. Hmmm, now that I think about it, you might consider getting a second fermenting bucket so you can do a secondary with dry hops. I suppose you could dry hop in the primary fermenter after it is finished, but I've never tried that myself.
I don't have very much experience with fruit beers, so I'll have to leave that part of your question to other homebrewers.
One other last piece of advice is that I would encourage you to see if there is a homebrew club in your area. I brewed for about 8 years before I joined a club and I'm sure I learned more from the first couple years in that group than I did in all the previous years combined.