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Old 03-14-2014, 07:36 PM   #1
WI_Wino
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Default Grain mill payback

I've recently moved from extract to BIAB and I'm loving the cheaper cost. I started to think about, well what if I got a grain mill and started buying base grains in bulk? That's got to save a ton of money, right?

Err, not so much. I already typically buy 2-3 batches worth of ingredients at once so I get a $.20 discount per pound. With that my numbers are showing I have to use 2000 lbs (!) of 2-row to recoup $100, 3000 lbs for $150 in savings. It starts to go down if I look at other malts (GWM pilsner 400lbs to save $100, 600 lbs to save $150).

Quick examples:
GWM 2-Row
  • $.96 lb
  • $.76 lb (10+lbs purchased at once)
  • $.71 lb ($35.50 for 50 lb sack)

GWM Pilsner
  • $1.22 lb
  • $1.02 lb (10+lbs purchased at once)
  • $.77 lb ($38.50 for 50 lb sack)

Weyereman Pilsner
  • $1.47 lb
  • $1.27 lb (10+lbs purchased at once)
  • $1.20 lb ($66.10 for 55 lb sack)


That is a lot beer before I see $$$ savings. I could go ubercheap and use a corona style mill but still it's hundreds of pounds of 2-row before I break even. At this point I'm probably going to put my brew money elsewhere. I'm probably not fully appreciating the benefits of freshly grinding my own grains...


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Old 03-14-2014, 07:47 PM   #2
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Guess it depends on where you live, most of SD County LBHS are charging $1.85/lb on up, so buying in bulk not only is cheaper, once again depending on cost paid for the bulk grains. It might take a few years for it to pay for itself depending on how often and how much you mill. I think I've almost broke even in about 8 months. There is nothing like CONSISTENCY of crush and ease of deciding the night before wanting to brew the next morning or afternoon, in which would limit the time you LBHS is open like being closed on Monday and you decide to brew on Monday during late Sunday afternoon. I also have a new cordless drill and can mill my grain bill in minutes, which I'll do while my strike water is coming to temp- now that's fresh grinds.

I picked up my barley crusher directly from Barley Crusher for $115 with shipping.


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Old 03-14-2014, 07:47 PM   #3
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It's about a lot more than saving money. That's not why I brew beer. It's about having control over your crush and what you want to brew with it. You can't beat having ingredients on hand and being able to create any recipe or change a recipe on a moments notice.


oops, Ocean beat me and hit the same points.
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Old 03-14-2014, 07:48 PM   #4
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you also have to realize by milling your own grains you can mill tighter and more consistently which will increase you efficiency and you will use less grain per batch as well.

Still there is nothing about this hobby that is cost saving to any substantial amount.
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Old 03-14-2014, 07:49 PM   #5
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Well that seems pretty accurate on cost savings. However, there are other factors such as grain crush and freshness that people like about having their own mill. Milling and immediately doughing in just kinda feels right. Also, a lot of LHBS mess with their settings on their mill which can cause you to get wide changes in your efficiency. If yours doesn't do this then it's not really a big deal.

I've always been pretty hesitant to say that making your own beer is cheaper than getting it commercially. This is mostly because of equipment costs. I have probably spent at least 2 grand on my equipment over the last few years (fermenters, kettles, kegging system, etc) so I personally don't look at cost all that much.
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Old 03-14-2014, 07:51 PM   #6
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I'm already getting 80%+ efficiency in my 5 gallon BIAB setup. I've been trying to get into a little lighter ABV beers but last 3 batches were almost 10 points higher than what the recipes called for (yes, volumes were accurate!)
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Old 03-14-2014, 07:55 PM   #7
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The second you move beyond buckets and coolers you won't be saving money anytime soon...we all know this. Its a hobby so much of buying stuff has more to do with producing better beer with more consistency and less to do with saving some coin.
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Old 03-14-2014, 07:57 PM   #8
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If you're doing this (or any other hobby) just to save money, it's not much of a hobby. Maybe you will sink the cost of a grain mill over time, maybe you won't.

But the versatility of milling the way you want it, when you want it, is liberating. Even if you don't buy in bulk, you can still buy the grains you need and not worry if you don't use them for a while. Kept in airtight containers, whole grains will stay fresh much longer than crushed grains.
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Old 03-14-2014, 08:01 PM   #9
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I do think I save money on beer. Last 5 gallon batch was $20 in ingredients, figure $4 in propane or so. 2 cases of decent beer is like $50.

But I guess my point is not that I won't spend money on the hobby, just I was expecting a bigger cost savings in bulk grain. It's just not there for me.
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Old 03-14-2014, 08:04 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WI_Wino View Post
I do think I save money on beer.
But is that why you brew?


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