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Old 06-09-2012, 07:06 AM   #1
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Default Saving or Spending More Monday?

I recently started brewing my own beer. I am currently only working with extract kits, but am looking forward to customizing recipes and experimenting with ingredients etc.

So I was wondering, do you find yourself to be saving money or spending more money? I've only done a couple batches, but I recently just dropped $250 into building a kegerator (with one keg) and I already want to set up another keg!

I originally started making beer to save money, and then it became more than that. I would like to justify this hobby as a money saver, but can I?

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Old 06-09-2012, 07:20 AM   #2
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Ive been down that road. I spent on new carboys, gadgets, bigger brewpots a kegerator. And yes there are still things I want for my home brewery. but for the most part I produce 5-6% beer at about 10 bucks a case. Alot cheaper than the same quality in stores. For those savings to add up to the money I spent on gear... that could take a lifetime brewing luckily I plan on brewing for that long. Now after I break down and build a keezer and acquire all the brew gadgets I want the saving may never materialize but that is why it a hobby.

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Old 06-09-2012, 07:31 AM   #3
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when it comes to how much you would pay for materials to brew 50+ bottles of beer vice what you would pay in a store for it, yes it is a money saver...but when you look at equipment no it will always try to upgrade or buy something to make your brew day more streamline.
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Old 06-09-2012, 10:58 AM   #4
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Unless you buy minimal equipment and don't upgrade it your going to be spending more money. It is possible to save money but for most of us we consider this our hobby and saving money isn't the primary goal.
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Old 06-09-2012, 11:17 AM   #5
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With the amount of money I spent this year I can break even once I make my 700th case of beer.
What started as a Mr Beer kit morphed into
  • A Kal Clone Electric Single Tier setup
  • A 14 gallon fermenator
  • An old freezer that is now a fermentation chamber
  • A 8.8 cu ft keezer
  • 6 new kegs

Home Brewing is not a great way to save money. It's a fun hobby with a fabulous end product!
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Old 06-09-2012, 11:33 AM   #6
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Welcome to my nightmare, I think you're gonna like it.
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Old 06-09-2012, 11:47 AM   #7
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Going all grain, purchasing hops by the pound, purchasing Grain in group buys, washing your yeast are all ways that will ensure that you are saving money with your beers.

Equipment is generally a one time purchase, except for Hydrometers for me. Many of the equipment costs can be spread over time, I'm still doing gravity but future purchases to come include a pump and plate chiller. I have 10 corny kegs, they were purchased over a couple year period. I have the ability to Chill 5, and serve and carb 4 in my main kegerator (old converted kitchen fridge) and also have a true TDD-1 which can do 4 as well but serves as a fermentation chamber when needed too. I've grown to 5 Fermenters, have 4 going right now (20 gallons of Cherry Wheat for a Graduation Party and 50th Birthday Party), have three beers on tap (Roasted Jalapeno Pale Ale, Honey Black Lager, Bananas Foster Creamy Ale), had 5 last week (kicked the Pale Ale and Maibock). Brewing DFH90 clone this weekend and will do my last extract kit beer this week as well (American Pale Ale).

You can make really good beer and save money vs. buying them, but it's hard to compete against the BMC's on pricing alone on their basic beers.
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Old 06-09-2012, 11:56 AM   #8
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I've been brewing for five years, but have managed to maintain a more or less K.I.S.S. approach to the whole thing. Mill with a Corona mill, brew over a propane burner, rotate my fermentations in three plastic buckets, and bottle in 12 oz. longnecks using Grandpa's prohibition-era bench capper. I think I figured out at one point that when all the bells and whistles are included (immersion chiller, refractometer, etc.) that I've got around $650-700 invested in the non-consumable end of homebrewing. I only do about 14-15 5 gal. batches a year, but I figure I may have reached the break-even point by now.

But, as someone mentioned, this pastime is so much fun, who's counting?
“Malt does more than Milton can / To justify God’s ways to man”

-A. E. Housman (1859–1936). A Shropshire Lad , 1896.
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Old 06-09-2012, 12:58 PM   #9
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Clearly the per-batch cost is better than buying commercial. I brew 10-gallon batches (~4 cases). For a 6% IPA, let's say I'm spending $30 on grain, $20 on hops, and $10 on yeast. Add in sundries ($5 for propane, a few bucks for water, ice for my chiller [in the summer], electricity for my fermentation fridge), and I'm spending less than $80 for a batch. And that's one of my more expensive batches.

Compare that to the equivalent quantity of store-bought. 4 cases is 16 six-packs. Here in CA you can expect to spend at least $9 per six pack, and with tax and CRV, you're over $10. So each equivalent batch would cost me $160 or more commercially.

Brew a strong belgian, imperial stout, or a double IPA (beers usually bought in 22 oz bombers)? You'll save more money because those beers commercially are much more expensive, but homebrewing is not that much more expensive. Brew a more mild session beer, easier on the hops? You'll save more money, because those beers commercially are still in the $8+ range per sixer at the store.

How many batches will it take to amortize the equipment costs? Depends how balls-out you go on your equipment. My brew rig is pretty stable, cost-wise. But I just dropped $600 or so in total cost to outfit my 6-tap keezer, and thus it'll probably take me most of a year to amortize that cost in brewing savings. But since I do ~12 batches a year, at a savings of $80+ per batch, and I've been brewing 6 1/2 years, I'd say I've probably broken even by now.
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Old 06-09-2012, 01:04 PM   #10
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I drink more beer than ever, so comparing the cost of commercial to homebrew doesn't really work. I used to drink maybe 2 "good" beers a night, because they are expensive in Michigan where I live. But with homebrew, I drink a lot more than two beers a night.

I have a ton of money invested into my all-electric HERMS with tippy dump. Between that and the bulk grain and hops, the two kegerators, all of the kegs, the grain mill and so on, I don't even want to think about the actual $$$$ I spent.

Some of my 10 gallon batches are under $20, though. So, my per batch cost has gone way down.

It's a hobby, and it's cheaper than owning a plane as a hobby.

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