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Old 10-29-2010, 10:46 PM   #1
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Default Homebrew Economics: Can I really make 890 "light beers" for the price of buying 150?

I've been doing some calculating on the cost of brewing vs buying. Cream ale is what I typically drink the most of. I drink plenty of brown/stout/hefe/wheat too, but cream ale is sort of the go to brew, and what I plan to use as a base for making a light beer swmbo will drink. I used BM's Cream of Three Crops recipe to base my ingredient cost on as that's the recipe I will be using after I make a bulk grain purchase this week.

Like I said, I've been wanting to brew something swmbo will drink. She's a MGD 64 drinker and hasn't drank more than a sip of anything I've brewed. There's no converting her to real beer, so I thought I'd try brewing something really light by reducing a cream ale recipe. I haven't done this yet, but I screwed up a batch of hefe on my 2nd all grain attempt, coming in at 1.031 og rather than the expected 1.050. FG was 1.008, so 3.1% abv. I almost dumped it, since it tasted like water to me. But before I did, I had her try it, and for once she said she liked it.

We like to buy in bulk to save on trips to the store, so we will often pick up 5 30pks of MGD 64 for her at a time, which is roughly $100 for 150 beers. So here's my calculations based on spending $100.

BM's Cream of Three Crops will currently cost me $21.52 which makes 11.5g or 115 beers. MGD 64 is 2.8% abv, which is 60% of the 4.7% cream ale, so if I cut back the ingredients to 60%, the cost for 11.5g goes down to $12.91. For the same $100 I could make 7.75 batches x 115 beers per batch = 890 beers.

This is with reusing yeast. Even if I have to use fresh yeast every now and then, I typically use notty at $1.10/pack, so with washing/reusing, the cost per batch is negligible. I also plan to grow my own hops next year, so this will lower the cost even more since my calculations were at $1.50/oz or $3.00 per regular batch of BM's cream ale.

Am I miscalculating something, or can I really make 575 regular beers or 890 extra light beers for the cost of buying 150?

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Old 10-29-2010, 10:53 PM   #2
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Yeah probably, that MGD 64 stuff is mostly water anyhow. It's a pretty sweet racket that they somehow sell it for the same price as, say, regular MGD.

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Old 10-29-2010, 10:57 PM   #3
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Why don't you go to the grocery store and buy a case of bottled water. Then give it to her and tell her it's your new brew?

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Old 10-29-2010, 11:03 PM   #4
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I'm not doubting you, but I don't see how you're presently doing 11 gallon batches for 22 bucks.

Do you pay retail? Are you accounting for everything (like gas/propane, water, priming sugar, bottle caps, sanitizer, etc)?

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Old 10-29-2010, 11:28 PM   #5
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dont forget to use amylase enzymes in your fermentors to dry it out like a MGD64. You can reduce batch costs even more by lowering your starting gravity, but finishing at 1.000 for 2.8%

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Old 10-29-2010, 11:46 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sportscrazed2 View Post
Why don't you go to the grocery store and buy a case of bottled water. Then give it to her and tell her it's your new brew?
That's the problem, she IS buying cases of "bottled water", but at $20 a pop.

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Originally Posted by tunoffun View Post
I'm not doubting you, but I don't see how you're presently doing 11 gallon batches for 22 bucks.

Do you pay retail? Are you accounting for everything (like gas/propane, water, priming sugar, bottle caps, sanitizer, etc)?
BM's recipe is as follows for an 11.5g batch and what I pay:

12lb 2 row - $1/lb = $12
4lb flaked corn - $1.30/lb = $5.20
1lb rice - $1.32

1oz Crystal - $1.50
1oz Willamette (i think) - $1.50

Total - $21.52 with using washed yeast or pitching onto a cake

I didn't account for gas. Some quick figuring of 100k btuh from my 23 tip jet burners, 1.5 hours to heat sparge & strike water, 1.5 hrs to heat/boil is 3 hrs. 100k btu's take almost 100cf of NG, so about 300cf total. I believe my current cost is $0.82433/100cf, so $2.47 for gas.

I use tap water with 1 campden tablet, so next to nothing there.

I keg, so no priming sugar or caps. There is co2 cost of about $1 per 5 gallons, so that would add $2 per batch.

I buy starsan in the large bottle, and only mix up about a gallon at a time with RO water (from my kitchen sink). I used to mix up a few gallons each brew day or keg transfer, but quickly found it was a waste. Mixing just a gallon at a time with RO water and using a spray bottle has made it go a LONG way.

So if I add say $5.00 per batch for those expenses, and I think that's being generous, but if I grow my own hops and save that $3.00 per batch, I add a total of $2.00 per batch.

So $23.52 per 115 beers x 4 = $94.08 for 460 regular cream ales.

The light beer would only save $1.20 per batch on hops, so add $3.80 + $12.91 = $16.71 x 6 batches = $100.26 or 115 beers x 6 = 690 beers.

I guess that's a bit less after adding those expenses, but still a hell of a lot cheaper than buying it.
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Old 10-29-2010, 11:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by strat_thru_marshall View Post
dont forget to use amylase enzymes in your fermentors to dry it out like a MGD64. You can reduce batch costs even more by lowering your starting gravity, but finishing at 1.000 for 2.8%
Thanks for the tip, that just might make up the cost of the other mentioned expenses.
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Old 10-29-2010, 11:48 PM   #8
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Fuel (propane or electricity) and cost of water (although cheap) should be factored as well.

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Old 10-29-2010, 11:53 PM   #9
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You are going to spend money growing those hops, too. Pesticides, fertilizer, water, and whatever knick-knacks you end up shelling out for the drying process. And storage... vacuum sealer? A second fridge?

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Old 10-29-2010, 11:53 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KCBrewer View Post
I've been doing some calculating on the cost of brewing vs buying. Cream ale is what I typically drink the most of. I drink plenty of brown/stout/hefe/wheat too, but cream ale is sort of the go to brew, and what I plan to use as a base for making a light beer swmbo will drink. I used BM's Cream of Three Crops recipe to base my ingredient cost on as that's the recipe I will be using after I make a bulk grain purchase this week.

Like I said, I've been wanting to brew something swmbo will drink. She's a MGD 64 drinker and hasn't drank more than a sip of anything I've brewed. There's no converting her to real beer, so I thought I'd try brewing something really light by reducing a cream ale recipe. I haven't done this yet, but I screwed up a batch of hefe on my 2nd all grain attempt, coming in at 1.031 og rather than the expected 1.050. FG was 1.008, so 3.1% abv. I almost dumped it, since it tasted like water to me. But before I did, I had her try it, and for once she said she liked it.

We like to buy in bulk to save on trips to the store, so we will often pick up 5 30pks of MGD 64 for her at a time, which is roughly $100 for 150 beers. So here's my calculations based on spending $100.

BM's Cream of Three Crops will currently cost me $21.52 which makes 11.5g or 115 beers. MGD 64 is 2.8% abv, which is 60% of the 4.7% cream ale, so if I cut back the ingredients to 60%, the cost for 11.5g goes down to $12.91. For the same $100 I could make 7.75 batches x 115 beers per batch = 890 beers.

This is with reusing yeast. Even if I have to use fresh yeast every now and then, I typically use notty at $1.10/pack, so with washing/reusing, the cost per batch is negligible. I also plan to grow my own hops next year, so this will lower the cost even more since my calculations were at $1.50/oz or $3.00 per regular batch of BM's cream ale.

Am I miscalculating something, or can I really make 575 regular beers or 890 extra light beers for the cost of buying 150?
Reading this post makes me feel like Rain Man...without the math skills!
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