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Old 07-06-2007, 06:33 PM   #1
freshbrew07
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Default Best way to cut ingredient costs?

So I have been brewing a lot of high gravity beers lately - the typical profile is about 10-12lbs of DME and or course a couple ounces of hops with a liquid yeast tube, and a small assortment of steeping grains...

I would say on average that runs me about $65 bucks a pop (tax, out the door from the local brew store) and I was wondering if there are more effective means of obtaining the ingredients, or if that's just what you come to expect with those recipes...I know you can reuse the yeast, but from what little I have read and conversed with other brewers it's kind of time consuming, so for the sake of 5 bucks I was wondering if there are any other areas to cut costs? I'd like to cut it down to about $55 bucks so I can start brewing a couple batches a week...

I am definately cool with getting the speciatly grains and yeast at the local store - I figure that's usually $10-$15 bucks total - not the bulk of my cost...Plus, those are key ingredients that I wouldn't chance getting shipped or from a relatively unknown source...

Does anyone buy in bulk on say the Malt Extract - whether dry and/or liquid and just store it for when you need it? The guy at the brew store said the local Publix grocery store can refill a gallon of water for like .25 - so I figure I could save about 5 bucks a batch there - but could this compromise taste compared to the distilled water I have been buying new every batch?

Again, I am just curious for any input on what you guys have done in this area...


Thanks,

Fresh

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Old 07-06-2007, 06:40 PM   #2
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Well, you can buy bulk LME or DME from midwest for considerably less than you're getting extract right now. The real cost savings will come when you switch to AG, you can probably get down to around half of what you're paying now (or less). The only thing is that it takes much more time, is more labor intensive, has a much larger margin of error, and is equipment heavy (if you like that sort of thing, it can be very simple).

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Old 07-06-2007, 06:46 PM   #3
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There is a lot, or at least some, cost associated with going to all grain. However, once you are there, that is when you really start saving money. My brews cost me around $30-35 now and that is when I purchase yeast. I figure in the future, when I am re-using yeast and buying base grains in bulk, I will probably be able to get my brews down to the $20-$25 range.

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Old 07-06-2007, 06:53 PM   #4
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I just did a bulk grain order with a couple of other homebrewers and will have my cost per AG batch down to around $7-8 per 5 gallons. Yes, it does take some money in equipment at first and does require more time.

As far as extracts go, if you can buy in bulk you will save money. Just makes sure you have a way to store it all well. Also using recipes instead of kits will save a ton of money.

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Old 07-06-2007, 07:06 PM   #5
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What in general is entailed going AG - right now I am just doing like a 3 gallon boil with dme/lme/grains? Are we talking stepping out to the outdoor setup pretty much?

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Old 07-06-2007, 07:07 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdoiv
Also using recipes instead of kits will save a ton of money.
How so? Most kits are priced less than the sum of their ingredients.
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Old 07-06-2007, 07:11 PM   #7
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Going AG is the major thing.

As far as yeast, reusing yeast really isn't very difficult or time-consuming, and it can save you quite a bit if you're using liquid yeast.

Also, there are some very high quality dried yeasts on the market. I absolutely do not hesitate to us Safale 05 or Nottingham if they are appropriate to the style I am brewing.

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Old 07-06-2007, 07:17 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by freshbrew07
What in general is entailed going AG - right now I am just doing like a 3 gallon boil with dme/lme/grains? Are we talking stepping out to the outdoor setup pretty much?
Essentially, yes. For AG, the extra equipment bare minimum is:
  • Turkey Fryer or other propane stand burner (I got 2 turkey fryer kits at WalMart for $40 each, right around thanksgiving time, and they came with the burner, a thermometer and a 30qt aluminum kettle, all of which I use every time I brew).
  • A larger kettle for full boils. Preferably at least 8 gallons.
  • A mash/lauter tun. This can be built at home rather inexpensively. Or you can buy a professionally-made setup, but be prepared to shell out some dough.
  • A wort chiller, either counterflow or immersion. Chilling down full 5.5-gallon boils is much harder than chilling 3-gallon boils.
  • In order to really take advantage of the method, you should also probably get a grain mill. I love my Barley Crusher. That way, you can buy the 55lb sacks of base grain (the bulk sacks only come unmilled), and you can also keep your grain fresher longer, as its shelf life is drastically reduced if you buy it premilled.
  • If you don't already have one, you need some kind of aeration or oxygenation kit; since you're not adding any unboiled water at the end, your wort will be starved of oxygen and your yeast will not be happy.

I believe that's the minimum, as I see it. Hopefully I haven't forgotten anything.
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Old 07-06-2007, 07:27 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan!
Essentially, yes. For AG, the extra equipment bare minimum is:
  • Turkey Fryer or other propane stand burner (I got 2 turkey fryer kits at WalMart for $40 each, right around thanksgiving time, and they came with the burner, a thermometer and a 30qt aluminum kettle, all of which I use every time I brew).
  • A larger kettle for full boils. Preferably at least 8 gallons.
  • A mash/lauter tun. This can be built at home rather inexpensively. Or you can buy a professionally-made setup, but be prepared to shell out some dough.
  • A wort chiller, either counterflow or immersion. Chilling down full 5.5-gallon boils is much harder than chilling 3-gallon boils.
  • In order to really take advantage of the method, you should also probably get a grain mill. I love my Barley Crusher. That way, you can buy the 55lb sacks of base grain (the bulk sacks only come unmilled), and you can also keep your grain fresher longer, as its shelf life is drastically reduced if you buy it premilled.
  • If you don't already have one, you need some kind of aeration or oxygenation kit; since you're not adding any unboiled water at the end, your wort will be starved of oxygen and your yeast will not be happy.

I believe that's the minimum, as I see it. Hopefully I haven't forgotten anything.
thanks....I had that idea in my head....but haven't seen it in one spot.
/hijack
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Old 07-06-2007, 07:30 PM   #10
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Yeah I have two friends that are brewmasters at SweetWater Brewry in Atlanta, they have a similar setup - I have a pic, but I am not sure how to post it, pretty much 3 full size sweetwater kegs stacked vertically, and they do AG...my buddy said we need to brew a batch some time, so I might sit in on his next batch and see the whole start to finish process...

What would be a good deal on buying in bulk some DME? I am wondering if me and my buddy went in on like 50-100lbs of DME(I would assume the 3lb bags of Munton's) that maybe we could cut the cost down? I am sure if I went to my local brew store and told him I was shopping it around and through out Midwest, that he might try and cut a deal - cut his cost, and make a quick move on a bulk margin scale...I think right now its like 10-11 bucks for 3 lbs plus tax...?

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