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Old 12-14-2009, 08:00 AM   #1
voberoi
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Default Buying supplies: how much, how, and where?

As I've started to brew more I've run into issues trying to keep costs low. I've gotten most of my supplies from either my LHBS or northernbrewer.com so far. Part of the problem is that I probably need to plan ahead, buy bulk, and brew more recipes that share ingredients. The other part is that I'm not sure whether I'm getting best price or not for equipment, ingredients, etc.

So, I have a couple of questions:

1) What quantities of ingredients do you buy and where do you buy them from?

2) Do you have a few standard recipes that you brew and get ingredients for, or do you sift through recipes looking for interesting beers to brew and then look for their ingredients?

3) Are there any good homebrew supplies price comparison sites out there? Kind of pricegrabber.com or bizrate.com, but for homebrewers?


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Old 12-14-2009, 12:18 PM   #2
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Bulk purchases can help, looking at Midwest a base 2-row is $1.30/pound individually or $0.96/pound by a 50lb sack. the question is how fast can you go through it to keep fresh? Personally I buy what's needed at the moment and perhaps round up the next size bulk if it seems worthwhile at the time.

Ingredients are determined by the beer. I say don't let what you have in stock limit what you want to make. Base ingredients are fine to keep around in stock but all the various special grains are used in such small amounts that it really wouldn't make sense for a lot of people to keep supplies of each.

Can't help you on the site really, but one thing that occurred to me is this. If I recall here you're listed as being in CA, how about growing a few hop plants out on the porch/deck/somewhere? Pound per pound it's the most expensive part of a beer and a few staple varieties could cut the costs down a fair bit over time.


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Old 12-14-2009, 04:06 PM   #3
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Are you brewing AG or doing partial?
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Old 12-14-2009, 04:14 PM   #4
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If you're not already in one, i would suggest finding a local homebrew club and ask when they're doing a bulk grain buy. As someone above posted, you'll have to think about how quickly you're going to use the grain and how you're going to properly store it but that's about the cheapest way to get a majority of your ingredients.

Our club is putting in a 30+sack purchase today or tomorrow and we're getting 50 pound sacks anywhere from $35-$41 per sack depending on the malt. You can also get hops by the pound much cheaper.
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Old 12-14-2009, 04:31 PM   #5
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BrewStooge: I've been rounding up to the next bulk size as well, but I end up with enough crushed malt leftovers (I've bought crushed only so far -- should I crush my own?) that they're probably not fresh by the time I use them again. I've considered growing hops, but I don't have the space (I live in an apartment with 2 roommates, and our south side has more apartments right in front of it) and I'll be moving in 6 months anyway.

BrewRI: I've been doing partial, but I'm about to move to AG.

Cape Brewing: I've read about this happening. That sounds like a good idea.
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Old 12-14-2009, 05:34 PM   #6
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Right now, I'm working through my first bulk grain order. I bought bulk 2-Row, bulk Caramel 10L, and smaller quantities of a few other grains I knew I would be needing. What I'm trying to do is nail down a House Pale Ale recipe. I will keep this beer available at all times, because it's easy to brew, and most of my friends (even the BMCers) like this style. I'm also going to be brewing a massive amount of this for my friends' wedding next August.

The point I'm getting at is that I bought A LOT of 2 Row and Caramel 10L, because those are two consistent grains used in pale ales, and I'm varying the ratios of those two grains with smaller amounts of Cara-pils and Vienna malt, with different ratios of Cascade/Centennial hops (also purchased in bulk from HopsDirect.com).

Each one of my brews so far has been SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper than the ones before it because I planned out my grain bills and hops additions as such.
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Old 12-14-2009, 05:58 PM   #7
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For those of you that buy in bulk

1) How do you store the grains
2) How long do they last
3) What are some estimated amounts of money saved on batches from going bulk?
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Old 12-14-2009, 06:44 PM   #8
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For those of you that buy in bulk

1) How do you store the grains

I keep them in the bag they came in, but put a lot of effort in to making sure I get as much of the air out as possible, then seal it real tight with duct tape. I'm not saying this is a good method, but I have no other means to do it. I want to go up to Home Depot and get a bunch of those HOMER buckets soon.

2) How long do they last

I don't know, but I'm trying to make my way through my first order in a few weeks. Because I ordered them crushed, they do not have quite the same shelflife as they would had I ordered them uncrushed.

3) What are some estimated amounts of money saved on batches from going bulk?

Well, let's try some calculations. I order from Brewmaster's Warehouse, and they don't have a bulk rate, just by the pound. However, you have to pay shipping on each order. So let's say you need 7 lbs of 2 row for a particular recipe, 8 lbs for another recipe, and 10 for the third recipe. If you ordered them separately, at $1.15 a pound and $6.99 flat rate shipping, you'd pay $49.72 as opposed to $35.74 if you order them all together, which is about $14 savings over three recipes on grain alone. This gets compounded the more you plan ahead. Also, if you order hops bulk, you'll see even greater savings. For example, at a particular Online HBS, Cascade pellet hops go for $2.99 an ounce ($47.84 per pound). At HopsDirect.com (bulk hops), you can get them for $8.75 a pound, or $0.55 an ounce, which is a MASSIVE savings. Again, multiply that over a few pounds, and you can definitely see the advantage.

FURTHERMORE, if you start reusing and harvesting yeast, you'll save A LOT that way. I've heard from people on here that the cost of a 5 gallon, low-gravity, brew is less than $10.00, which is substantial considering most new brewers are paying $30.00-$40.00+ on theirs. They do this buy buying grain in bulk, buying hops in bulk, and reusing/harvesting yeast.

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Old 12-14-2009, 06:49 PM   #9
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The sacks come with a heavy plastic "liner" to the sack itself and to be honest, I simply spin the liner and tie it with a small peice of rope to make sure it is sealed up really well. Most people use big air-tight plastic containers etc. Personally... I'm not 100% sold on it being totally worth the cost of going big plastic containters .

Grain stored like that, as long as it stays dry and air-tight, should last quite a while. I'm not sure I would go super long (a year) but I use grains for a couple of months. (I order uncrushed)

I don't know about per batch but I just ordered two sacks of two-row for $36 a peice and then $4 each shipping on the pallet. So $40 for 50 pounds delivered.
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Old 12-14-2009, 07:13 PM   #10
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If there is a local craft brew or brewpub close to you it is adviseable to contact them and "piggy back" on their order if they will let you. Homebrew clubs also do bulk orders. It also depends where you get it from, recently the homebrew club here got pale malt from Colorado Malting Co. for $40/50lb sack because we ordered 500lbs. If we get to 1000 lbs the price drops to $32.50/sack, no shipping since they make the rounds through here monthly now. One of the brewpubs is getting their malt there now and saving a ton of money on it over the north country malting group which is 2 - 3 cents more per pound before shipping and palleting charges.

I purchase all my malt whole and store the sacks in airtight 55 gallon drums that had cherries in them initialy. The kind with the big lid and sealing ring around them. The malt should be good for a couple years I believe?


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