Just a few questions....

Discussion in 'Beer & Ale' started by terry colwell, Jul 30, 2013.

  1. terry colwell

    terry colwell Smoking Fanatic

    One of the big reason I am thinking about home brewing is getting what I want and cost. I like the wheat type beers and am wondering what kind of savings do you reap from brewing at home? Can someone give me a break down on how much beer are we talking and how much ( in general) does it cost to make a batch compared to 8 bucks or more a six pack for the grain beers at the store.
  2. atio

    atio Fire Starter

    Depends on which way you want to go.  I personally do extract kits, which are a bit more expensive but less complicated.  If you go all grain, you may be able to get ingredients cheaper, but you need more gear to brew.

    In order to do extract kits, you need the brewing gear (roughly $70), a large pot to boil water in (I paid $20 for a crappy one at Walmart, they can run up to $100 easily), the actual kit (around $30 on the site I buy from), non-screw-top bottles (free if you save them), and caps ($1.50).  Add in shipping if you buy online and it can run you about $175 to get started.

    This will get you your first 5 gallons of beer, which is about 48 12oz bottles.  Obviously the gear and pot are a one time cost (if you take care of things) so your re-occuring costs will be the kits, caps, and sanitizer when you run out (pretty cheap and you get a large quantity). 

    Some folks will talk about your time brewing needing to be factored in to the cost.  I've seen forum posts on another site where people say their free time is worth $25 an hour, so they add $100 to their brew cost.  My take on that is it's called FREE time for a reason, so I don't factor that in, but up to you.

    So at $8 a six pack, you would spend about $64 to buy the same amount of beer.  There (theoretically) is a break even point, maybe 4 or 5 kits, but you can figure that out.  You'd have to see if there is a local home brew store that you can get things at or if online is cheaper.

    There are a few tips to reducing costs that I can give you if you decide to purchase online. 

    First, pick a readily-available brew kit and price it at multiple sites.  I chose an Irish Red and went to maybe six sites and saw what it would cost for a kit to show up at my house.  Some sites include more in their kits than others, so while the base price may be cheaper at one site, after buying the other necessities, the actual price may be more than another. 

    Second, check the shipping policies.  The kits are around 10-12 pounds each, so it's not cheap.  I found that if I bought two kits at one time from a particular site, the shipping was only a dollar or two more on the second kit.  So I plan out my next 2-4 brews in advance and buy all at once.

    Finally, don't do this if you want to save money.  While it is possible if you take care of your equipment, if you get bit by the brew bug, it can get as expensive as you let it.  I started with a basic kit (that I got for basically nothing) and ended up buying two more fermenters and two carboys so I can have 25 gallons going at once.  It sounds like a lot, but 10 gallons of that is apple wine that needs at least 6 months to ferment and another is something that I brewed in January 2013 for Christmas gifts this year.  I'm pretty close to cost neutral, but if you factor in water, electricity, etc I'm sure I'm down a little bit.  I try not to think about those costs because I don't feel like figuring them out!  [​IMG]

    I will say that I'm really glad I got into this hobby.   It is pretty satisfying when you bring your own beer to a gathering and people ask what brand it is and where they can buy it.  There is so much to brewing that it can be as basic or complex as you personally want it to be.  You don't have to spend hours and hours studying and learning everything there is to know about beer in order to brew something tasty.  I'll fully admit that if the kits I buy didn't have instruction sheets, I'd be lost.  But my beer is good and right now that's about all I want out of it, so until I want to further my knowledge, I'm content existing at the level I'm at.

    So that was a pretty long answer to your question.  I hope it was helpful, but if it wasn't or it spawned more questions, let me know.  I'll shut up now!  [​IMG]
  3. marcopolo

    marcopolo Newbie

    I agree with Atio. I've been brewing just over five years, and I've invested a decent amount of money into this wonderful hobby. I wouldn,t, however, look at homebrewing as a way to save money.  It will cost about $100 bucks for an extract starter kit and a boil pot. A five gallon batch of beer will cost about $25-30 for ingredients, and that should yield about 2 cases.  However, if you get into it & once you start to factor in equipment, your costs increase.  Boil kettles, mash tuns, propane burners & fuel,  wort chillers, fermenters, corny kegs, hoses & hardware, refrigerators, etc...do add up.  I have three fridges  that I got for free, and fellow homebrewers often sell their equipment at a discount as they upgrade their systems. You can offset your ingredient costs by reusing your yeast, but most homebrewers I know don't brew to save money.  The ingredients are probably the least expensive part of the whole thing.  An extract batch averages about 3-4 hours of your time & all grain about twice that. You can keep it simple and just use your starter kit & keep your costs down, but once you get bitten by the "bug" then you'll find yourself spending more & more money.  I think that this may apply to cooking in general as well.  I personally find the money well spent, and I have no regrets.  Homebrewing is more affordable than a hobby like rebuilding hot rod cars or raising horses, but it all depends on what YOU like to do with your time & money.  The best advice I can give someone is to start out simple. The boil kettle can be used as a stock pot if you drop the hobby so your initial investment for a kit will run you under $100 with ingredients.  Give it a shot & go from there.

     BTW, you'll still end up buying craft beers even when you homebrew...Cheers !
  4. sabato domenica

    sabato domenica Fire Starter

    I have not brewed in a long time, but I like to say I never made a beer that I didn't like. I probably made 30 batches of beer and half of them were the same recipe, a mildly hopped malty brown Irish Ale.

    Once I made a Porter using the partial mash method. It took twice as long and I was hoping to taste no difference in the product, but, it was the best beer that I ever made. Might get back into it one day, a lot of fun.

    I had a used fridge bought specifically for the beer. Two cornelious kegs inside with taps drilled through the door. Used to run one amber and one brown at the same time. Saddest sound ever when no more ale comes out of the keg!

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