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Old 01-30-2011, 06:07 PM   #1
agurkas
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Default How do you lower your costs of brewing?

So every 3 weeks or so I make a new beer. Though I have graduated to partial-mash (which I am still learning) the costs with my favorite brand of yeast White Labs is somewhere around $50 per 5Gal batch. How do you lower your costs?

Though I have started saving small portion of yeast from the starter, I don't have a "library" of bunch of yeast just yet. So can't save much there.

I am looking at possibly getting some hopps in larger quantity, but I need to find what is most common in my Belgians I like (I am into heffes, porters, strong ales, and heavy aromatic hopp pales). What would you suggest I stock up on to lower my costs?

Any other way I can reduce my costs per batch?



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Old 01-30-2011, 06:10 PM   #2
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All grain is cheaper as far as supplies. Course...the 'upgrading' never seems to stop. I've convinced my SWMBO that it's a hobby, not necessarily a way to save cash.



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Old 01-30-2011, 06:11 PM   #3
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Wash yeast, bulk hops and bulk grain.

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Old 01-30-2011, 06:13 PM   #4
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I am just not ready for all grain yet. I am still learning how to sparge, plus my kitchen is relatively small, so extended setup is just not in the books.

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Old 01-30-2011, 06:14 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by waldoar15 View Post
Wash yeast, bulk hops and bulk grain.
That about sums it up. Using tap water is the only other thing I can think of.
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Old 01-30-2011, 06:14 PM   #6
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$50/batch is acceptable to me. It's cheaper than Sam Adams (figure $50/batch is $12.50/12pk) at that point, and that's what I'd be buying otherwise as a daily swill....

If you're talking Belgians, HB is always cheaper.

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Old 01-30-2011, 06:14 PM   #7
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Accounting class taught me to identify all the areas of cost first, then figure out where you can cut back. I'm assuming you have all of your "sunk" costs set, like equipment.

There are various ways to go cheap. First, shop around the home brew sites and compare those prices with shipping to your LHBS. Second, I find that all-grain is cheaper as those malt extracts are pricey.

You can cut costs by harvesting your own yeast and making your malt bill simple.

Other than that, you have to shop around. I'd be curious if others have any tips. For me it is a hobby and like most hobbies, it is something you just know is going to cost money.

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Old 01-30-2011, 06:15 PM   #8
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Having a library of yeast isn't as attractive to cost reduction as it sounds like up front. Maintaining the library takes a lot of work and money spent on equipment. Since you like Belgians, I would recommend sticking with 1 strain of yeast and rinsing it from batch to batch. If it isn't exactly to style but you still like it, then you achieved your goal of cost reduction.

As you said, buying hops in bulk is also a good way to go. I don't use enough hops to buy by the pound, but I use Rebel Brewer for a couple of ounces of hops at a time. If you stay below 4 ounces or so, the shipping is super cheap, and you can get hops for around $1.50-$2.00 an ounce with shipping included.

You're also right that going all grain will cut down on your costs. Fly Guy has a thread out there on how to make a mash tun pretty cheaply. It pays for itself rather quickly.
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/cheap-easy-10-gallon-rubbermaid-mlt-conversion-23008/

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Old 01-30-2011, 06:22 PM   #9
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I just thought of this...
Brew styles that lend themselves to simple sugars (e.g. Belgian Blonde). I would think cane sugar is cheaper than extract.

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Old 01-30-2011, 06:27 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jescholler View Post
Having a library of yeast isn't as attractive to cost reduction as it sounds like up front. Maintaining the library takes a lot of work and money spent on equipment. Since you like Belgians, I would recommend sticking with 1 strain of yeast and rinsing it from batch to batch. If it isn't exactly to style but you still like it, then you achieved your goal of cost reduction.
How do you figure on that?? I already had large enough jars to wash the yeast with, and smaller ones to store it in. I'm splitting each washing into two, or three, doses so space isn't really an issue. Since I didn't spend anything on hardware to wash yeast, if I get 30 more batches (figuring stopping at gen 5) the yeast would have cost me about $0.25 per 5 gallon batch. I am banking, right now, two strains of yeast, and expect to bank one or two more as I use them.

Quote:
As you said, buying hops in bulk is also a good way to go. I don't use enough hops to buy by the pound, but I use Rebel Brewer for a couple of ounces of hops at a time. If you stay below 4 ounces or so, the shipping is super cheap, and you can get hops for around $1.50-$2.00 an ounce with shipping included.

You're also right that going all grain will cut down on your costs. Fly Guy has a thread out there on how to make a mash tun pretty cheaply. It pays for itself rather quickly.
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/cheap-easy-10-gallon-rubbermaid-mlt-conversion-23008/
BIAB makes things VERY cheap for going all grain. No need to convert a cooler into a MLT.

I purchased some bulk hops from Farmhouse Brewing Supply. Good selection, at reasonable prices (far better than the LHBS)... They come in 4 ounce packets, and the more you get the cheaper they become.

Since I started using washed yeast, my cost per batch (5 gallons) has been about $15. So for less than one 12 pack of SA, I'm able to get solid home brew... I probably won't save much money when I start buying grain by the 55 pound sack, it will just mean that I won't need to make a trip to get grain, or place an order ahead of time. Since I'll also have a Barley Crusher here, it also means that my grain will be very freshly crushed for each brew (plan to crush the morning of brew-day at that point).


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