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Old 04-21-2008, 01:38 PM   #1
Cornfed
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Default Ingredients vs. Kits

Greetings. I'm getting back into homebrewing after some attempts over the last several years with variable levels of success.

I hoped to brew a kit from a local HBS yesterday which I'm now planning on brewing tonight.

Next, I have new grains and liquid yeast I overbought last week which which are fresh and waiting to be brewed. So, I'm going to order some DME and hops from Austin Homebrew today or tomorrow (also looking to order a wort chiller and tap a draft, I think. I can't stop myself!!!).

My long-winded point is that it seems that, on the small scale at least, the cost of ingredients is relatively high these days and that it's more economical to just buy kits. Mind you, I'm talking malt extract here and also am not considering ordering in bulk.

For instance I'm trying an SNPA clone recipe I want to brew and am just looking to buy enough DME and hops (already have the grains, yeast, priming sugar, irish moss, etc) to make a 4 gallon batch (want to put this in my 5 gallon carboy as my 6.5 will be occupied), and the cost is already just about as much as the Austin Homebrew kit for 5 gallons of the same style.

Also, the cost is much more than the cost of the Austin Homebrew specials.

I don't really have a point here. Just making an observation. I think I'll do my kit then my 4 gallon batch then will just start ordering the specials from Austin Homebrew (which look to be in the $20-25 range) since that looks cheaper than buying base ingredients on the small scale and since it will force me to try for some variety.

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Old 04-21-2008, 02:42 PM   #2
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I probably do 50% clone kits. It's fun making a beer I can't get locally. Add the $20-25 for diesel to get to the "L"HBS and kits make sense economically.

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Old 04-21-2008, 03:05 PM   #3
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Yeah, in my short recent research, on a small scale, it seems I'm getting into at least the $35-45 range for ingredients for recipes I have from a couple books I have on the subject (3 from Papazian, Secrets of the Master Brewers, and a couple others).

I see Austin Homebrew has these special kits which look to be more in the low $20s.

Unless I learn something else in the next couple weeks, I think I'm going to just start on those and just brew twice as often

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Old 04-21-2008, 04:03 PM   #4
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Price is definitely one factor that has led me to do my first all grain brew. My LHBS is close, and the prices are reasonable, but for a SN Pale Ale clone with a Wyeast pack it's running about $30-35. And I've just been informed that some of the prices there are going up even more. I plan to offset these rising costs by taking the following measures:

1. Go all grain! Grain is $1.00 - 1.50/lb, and I only need 10-12 lbs for a 5.5 gallon recipe. Use a beverage cooler to make a mash lauter tun (MLT) for under $50, with parts from your local hardware store: Great guide from FlyGuy!

2. Re-use yeast...AKA yeast washing. If you've ever read Papazian's book, he has a section on propogating and storing yeast. There is also a great guide to washing yeast HERE. This will save me 6-7 bucks each batch, since I use the Wyeast packs.

3. Grow my own hops! This one won't really offset the cost of brewing until next yeast or the year after. First year hops typically have very low yields, so I don't expect much, if anything this year. However, next yeat I should be able to get enough for a few batches.

4. Design the LHBS website, and trade for brewing supplies and ingredients. This is a great method for saving money, and is good for both parties. The site isn't done yet, but I'll be adding a MySQL DB backend for product listings and using PHP to pull the data. Check out the work in progress: Chico Home Brew Shop.

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Old 04-21-2008, 04:38 PM   #5
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Nice! I think you're a bit further along the skill curve than me. I'd like to someday try all grain, reusing yeast, and growing hops, but it's not in my immediate future at least (I need to master extracts first

Also, good work on the site. Looks like a great start. Come to think of it, my Local Homebrew Store, also a brewpub, is developing a web site. I heard the owner mention the other day that they're hoping to get their site up soon, but all they have now is a little stub of a site on the web. I'm also in IT and I wonder if I can work on some trades for helping with the site. Hmmm....

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Old 04-21-2008, 05:07 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cornfed
Nice! I think you're a bit further along the skill curve than me. I'd like to someday try all grain, reusing yeast, and growing hops, but it's not in my immediate future at least (I need to master extracts first

Also, good work on the site. Looks like a great start. Come to think of it, my Local Homebrew Store, also a brewpub, is developing a web site. I heard the owner mention the other day that they're hoping to get their site up soon, but all they have now is a little stub of a site on the web. I'm also in IT and I wonder if I can work on some trades for helping with the site. Hmmm....
Thanks! I'm just a noob too, but this site has been great for research and advice. All of my brews thus far (just 3), have been extract...but all of them have been fantastic. Just to clarify,

1. I have not yet done my first AG, but have built my MLT. I'll be heading to the LHBS to pick up some grain/hops/yeast and will be doing my first AG this weekend.

2. My hop plants are still in the sprout phase, but I've got 5 sprouts up now...should have a few handfuls of hops come September!

3. I've been looking into re-using my yeast, but have yet to put this research into practice. This is the part I'm most nervous about...I really don't want to ruin 5 gallons of brew in an effort to save $6!


Oh, and BTW I'd highly recommend chatting with the LHBS about their website, it's a great arrangement...everyone wins!
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Old 04-21-2008, 06:14 PM   #7
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I have noticed that extract kits range for slightly more expensive to slightly less expensive depending on the kit and the HBS.
However once you start brewing enough so you can buy your base malt or malt extract in bulk you can save alot of money over kit prices. I am usually under $20 per 5gal batch because I buy my base grain in a 55# sack and my specialty grains in 5# bags. Hops are another place I purchased large orders and weight out what I need.

Ofcourse to get to this point I had to buy brewing software, a grain crusher and get an AG setup.

Craig

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Old 04-21-2008, 07:16 PM   #8
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I'm trying to maximize my current equipment, and am thinking of generally skipping secondary fermentation for the ales I'm going to brew (as I've read that many think it's not needed and to minize the chance of me screwing something up). So, I'm thinking of alternating between special 5 gallon kits for my 6.5 gallon carboy such as the ones I see competitively priced at austin homebrew and then scaled down purchases for smaller batches (2.5 - 4 gallons) for my 5 gallon fermenter.

The thing is, just buying malt extracts and hops for 4 gallons worth of beer seems to cost more than the ~$20-25 5 gallon special kits online.

Let's see how I feel after a few brews. I'm obsessing on minutia at the moment as I always get excited when starting something new

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