Before fermentation, the sweet, sugary solution that will become beer is called “wort”. Wort production is the cooking part of the brewing process. The main decision you need to make is whether you will brew from all-grain, which requires more equipment, or start out brewing partial-mash extract-based beers. We highly recommend that new brewers start with extract-based brewing for the best results with fewer brewing errors and flaws.
The main decision you need to make about fermentation is to decide which materials the fermenters will be constructed from. Glass and stainless are more expensive, but both are longer lasting and easier to keep sterile. Food-grade plastic produces good beer, as long as it is kept in good condition, but will not have the same longevity as a sterile vessel.
Traditionally, beginning brewers start with bottling rather than kegging. Most of our long-time home brewers eventually migrate to kegging to improve quality, and save time and hassle. There is no reason that a new brewer can’t start out with kegging from the first batch. Bottling versus kegging is a key decision in your equipment setup.