Costco has half liter flip tops (Grolsch style but brown) for $24.99 including shipping plus you get 60 carbonation drops.
I was paying $3.49 to $3.99 for a half liter of Schwarzbier, Helles, Dunkel, Hefe-Weizen, or Doppelbock. I was ok with the beers, but I grew tired of inconsistency of the Helles and Hefe-Weizen, the darker beers handled the transit from Bavaria better, and I am more of an Export / Pils guy anyway.
Cost analysis of Costco / Brewcraft: $24.99 / 12 = 2.08
Half liter can of Bitburger: $1.25 + .05 deposit
Total = $3.38 ( i never take cans or six packs back, only cases, so the nickel is lost)
Carbonation drops are around a nickel each, so $3.33 is fair as well.
For me it makes sense to buy the bottles this way. I want the half liter and not 12oz. size since I have fewer to fill this way. I do not want to deal with a capper and caps and throwing away caps.
If you do not have or do not know someone with a Costco membership willing to order for you, be careful buying online from ebayers or stores with high shipping costs.
Some things I do not own: hydrometer, wort chiller.
Some things I do own: 2 stainless steel conical fermenters, stainless brewpot with welded ports for ball valve and thermometer, refractometer.