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Old 03-01-2010, 03:09 AM   #1
scorchingice
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Default Need help trying to reduce costs

I am currently a home brewer that has made extract batches and partial grain batches of homebrew, and very soon I will jump on the all grain wagon.

Currently I buy kits online because I live in an area where we have one main place to shop (Wall mart). I do not have anyplace near me that I could purchase hops, yeast smack packs, etc for certain.

Anyhow when I started homebrewing, I will go ahead and say that I was under the assumption it would eventually become cheaper to make beer than it is to buy it and come out better tasting. I assumed that once I bought the original equipment (fermenters, Swing Top bottles, Brewpots, etc) that I would only need to buy the ingredients and of course that should be cheaper. Well ordering online it is not cheaper, but I still love homebrewing so of course I do not plan to stop doing it just because I am not saving money. However this leaves me with a few questions.

How do I start cutting down on the cost of homebrewing? I plan to start growing my own hops this season and would like to find out some information about possibly buying grains locally.

Can I buy the basic 2 row malt grain from local farmers ? (We got TONS of farms where I am) I do not know anything about this but if I could find a way to purchase the main grains locally and grow my own hops I figure I could at least cut down on my costs. (Sure I will not be able to guarantee the AA of my hops but who cares, each batch will be a new taste experience)

Anyhow without special equipment for malting my own grains, what would I have to look for and ask for from the local farmers?

Again if I could buy the Grains local, grow my own hops, and only buy the smack pack yeast, the corn sugar, the specialty grains for flavor, I would assume this way I could at least cut down on my costs and save up for that Kegerator I would rather be spending my money on.

Is this possible or am I going to be stuck buying either kits or paying huge shipping on grains trying to buy them in bulk online? Or does someone have some other suggestions for me on how to buy in bulk and cut down my costs from buying these pre made ingredient kits?

Thanks in advance

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Old 03-01-2010, 03:14 AM   #2
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start buying in bulk, 55 lb. grain bags. grow your own yeast. if your so inclined you can even grow your own hops. you could also buy an inline filter for your garden hose that will filter out all the crap you don't want in your beer.

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Old 03-01-2010, 03:18 AM   #3
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Well, buying local grain and growing your own hops would definitely save money. But, you'd have to malt the grain yourself. I'm sure people have done it, but I'm not sure what kind of time and equipment investment is necessary to do it. And growing your own hops is nice, but how much can you reasonably grow? If you relied solely on homegrown hops, I'm wondering if that would slow your brewing to a crawl.

I think your best bet is to buy in bulk. Plenty of people do it and report 5 gallon batch costs at or below $20, which is certainly less than two cases of beer of the same quality. You can offset your cost even more by finding other people in the community interested in buying in bulk and purchasing pallets of grain sacks.

Yeast slanting would also make one pack of yeast last indefinitely.

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Old 03-01-2010, 03:19 AM   #4
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start buying in bulk, 55 lb. grain bags.
Am trying to find a good place to buy from without huge shipping costs.

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grow your own yeast.
Not worried about the cost of the yeat smack packs

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if your so inclined you can even grow your own hops.
I mentioned I was starting my hop growing this year.

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you could also buy an inline filter for your garden hose that will filter out all the crap you don't want in your beer.
Maybe later, more interested in gaining information of how to lower costs of the ingredients by buying in bulk locally, growing my own hops, etc.
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Old 03-01-2010, 03:20 AM   #5
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Making SMaSH beers (single malt, single hop) would also eliminate your need for specialty grains thus reducing money spent on materials and money spent on shipping (by a lot).

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Old 03-01-2010, 03:22 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scorchingice View Post
I am currently a home brewer that has made extract batches and partial grain batches of homebrew, and very soon I will jump on the all grain wagon.

Currently I buy kits online because I live in an area where we have one main place to shop (Wall mart). I do not have anyplace near me that I could purchase hops, yeast smack packs, etc for certain.

Anyhow when I started homebrewing, I will go ahead and say that I was under the assumption it would eventually become cheaper to make beer than it is to buy it and come out better tasting. I assumed that once I bought the original equipment (fermenters, Swing Top bottles, Brewpots, etc) that I would only need to buy the ingredients and of course that should be cheaper. Well ordering online it is not cheaper, but I still love homebrewing so of course I do not plan to stop doing it just because I am not saving money. However this leaves me with a few questions.

How do I start cutting down on the cost of homebrewing? I plan to start growing my own hops this season and would like to find out some information about possibly buying grains locally.

Can I buy the basic 2 row malt grain from local farmers ? (We got TONS of farms where I am) I do not know anything about this but if I could find a way to purchase the main grains locally and grow my own hops I figure I could at least cut down on my costs. (Sure I will not be able to guarantee the AA of my hops but who cares, each batch will be a new taste experience)

Anyhow without special equipment for malting my own grains, what would I have to look for and ask for from the local farmers?

Again if I could buy the Grains local, grow my own hops, and only buy the smack pack yeast, the corn sugar, the specialty grains for flavor, I would assume this way I could at least cut down on my costs and save up for that Kegerator I would rather be spending my money on.

Is this possible or am I going to be stuck buying either kits or paying huge shipping on grains trying to buy them in bulk online? Or does someone have some other suggestions for me on how to buy in bulk and cut down my costs from buying these pre made ingredient kits?

Thanks in advance
Once you buy a few things, it's not so bad. I live somewhere we don't even have a Wal-mart within 50 miles, so I'm a bit more isolated than you are. But you can buy a few things online, and pay $7 shipping no matter how much you buy. Check out austinhomebrew.com and brewmasterswarehouse.com. If you buy more than $60, shipping is free at morebeer.com. I know that's not what you wanted to hear- but that's the cheapest way to do it.

Once you get your ingredients, it's not expensive at all. Check out yeast washing, so that one package of yeast will last for many, many brews. Buy hops from hopsdirect, by the pound, so you can have them in the freezer for $.90/ounce.

For grains, you have to have them malted, so local farmers won't work. But you can buy a 50# sack for $40 and either pay for shipping, or buy a sack when you travel if you don't have a homebrew store. (That's what I usually have to do- I hauled a 50# sack almost 900 miles last time I went to visit family!)

I usually plan my brews in advance, so I keep a few items on hand. Each time I order, since it's flat rate shipping, I order a couple more pounds than I need for that brew. So now, I have a selection of specialty grains that I use often, and base malts, and quite a bit of yeast in my fridge. I also have four different kinds of hops from hopsdirect.
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Old 03-01-2010, 03:22 AM   #7
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Maybe later, more interested in gaining information of how to lower costs of the ingredients by buying in bulk locally, growing my own hops, etc.
water is an ingredient a local one at that. getting it from the city is cheaper than getting it from the store.
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Old 03-01-2010, 03:23 AM   #8
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Is there a local brewery within a reasonable distance? Lots of breweries will let you buy grain and hops either from them or tag onto their orders. Local breweries are also a great place to pick up a quart or two of yeast.

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Old 03-01-2010, 03:24 AM   #9
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Well, buying local grain and growing your own hops would definitely save money. But, you'd have to malt the grain yourself. I'm sure people have done it, but I'm not sure what kind of time and equipment investment is necessary to do it. And growing your own hops is nice, but how much can you reasonably grow? If you relied solely on homegrown hops, I'm wondering if that would slow your brewing to a crawl.
I definately do not wish to malt my own grain, I would like to find a way to get malted grain cheaper. Ordering online is not bad, but the shipping costs for heavy grain is a lot. As far as growing hops, I plan to grow 3 different types of hops with 4 plants of each type. So eventually I hope I get a good amount growing.

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I think your best bet is to buy in bulk. Plenty of people do it and report 5 gallon batch costs at or below $20, which is certainly less than two cases of beer of the same quality. You can offset your cost even more by finding other people in the community interested in buying in bulk and purchasing pallets of grain sacks.
I agree. It seems I will have to buy the malted grain in bulk, the problem is where to get it the cheapest?
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Old 03-01-2010, 03:25 AM   #10
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-as said before malt needs to be bought from maltsters, not farmers. (Hugh Baird, Briess, Gambrinus, Great Western etc)

Farmers grow barley, maltsters process barley into malt.

-Yeast should be one place to save quite a bit of money. Don't dismiss repitching at least.

-Find a local homebrew club...somewhere. You'll find people in the same boat looking for group buys or you'll flat out get a discount on your materials from a shop.

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