Brewing when you're broke . . .

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I guess I'm crossing a threshhold into a new era a brewing here. I went into the brew store and realized I could only afford a couple packs of yeast and a 5# bag of priming sugar. I'm thinking through a new approach to beer, namely, brewing from the backyard.

I'm trying to figure out how to make beer without barley or other store-bought ingredients. (Again, not because I dislike barley, but because I can't afford it!) Correct me if I'm wrong, but let's say I go harvest some seeds -- sunflower seeds, burdock seeds, amaranth seeds, etc. If I crush them, boil them with some amylace-B enzymes, I ought to have a wort with fermentable sugars, right? And as long as I add some yeast nutrients when I ferment (since I'll be lacking the proteins and other yeast essentials that are naturally in barley), I ought to be in business, right?

I'm looking forward to experimenting with different flavors, but I just want to make sure I have the fermenting science down right. Any feedback would be most helpful!!!

Thanks.
 
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quite honestly, without barley, you can't make beer.

Maybe you need another hobby.

Or try Apfelwein - apple juice, sugar, yeast....
 

Goatey

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Maybe you could give buying malt in bulk a try? Harvest some of your own yeast and then get some hops in bulk.

If you're looking to do it cheaply and don't care too much about what you're making, you could probably get the price down to like 25 cents a bottle.
 

Zen_Brew

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Sell your friends future pint contracts on your upcoming brews. Say you charge like $1.00 - 2.00 a pint. Well wait....that would likely be illegal. So sell your friends visits to your house, in which drinking a few pints may be an activity. As long as your making popular beer and getting a good finished product.
 

billvon

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I guess I'm crossing a threshhold into a new era a brewing here. I went into the brew store and realized I could only afford a couple packs of yeast and a 5# bag of priming sugar.
Try whatever you like, but you can get 8lbs of 2-row (enough for 5gal of 4% beer) for about $11. Then you can start adding stuff and at least it will start out tasting like beer.

>sunflower seeds, burdock seeds, amaranth seeds, etc. If I crush them, boil
>them with some amylace-B enzymes, I ought to have a wort with fermentable
>sugars, right?

I think you'd need an awful lot of seeds to replace a grain that has been bred for high starch content and malted for easier conversion. But heck, give it a try and let us know.
 

Chuck_Swillery

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If prisoners can make jungle juice out of fruit punch and spit, you can make something alcoholic out of seeds and just about anything else you can find that will sour via yeast. The problem with things like sunflower seeds is you're going to get a funky result due to the high fat/oil content as compared to grains like wheat, oats, barley, etc. You'd be better off going to Costco, Sam's Club, or some other similar mega-mart type place and buying up oatmeal, which is pretty dang cheap, and seeing what you get from that.

Sunflower seed beer - might be intersting tho...
 

Captain Damage

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Buying in bulk is always good advice. But do your research and the math. Sometimes it winds up being cheaper to just drive to your LHBS and pay their price than to order it online and pay for shipping - especially if you're shipping from multiple sources.

Offer to teach a friend to brew if he foots half (or most) of the cost of supplies. Yes, you'd only get half the beers from that project, but once he starts brewing he'll (probably) be anxious to share his beers with you. Also, it's someone for you to share the cost of future bulk supply purchases with.

Make sure your family knows that what you really want for Christmas, birthday, etc., is gift certificates for your LHBS or favorite online supply shop - you can even get some brewing supplies thru Amazon.
 

Whiskey

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Bulk grains and hops is really the way to go. Even if only buying base grains in bulk it saves a huge amount of money. Get a bag of 2 Row, and may be a bag of wheat and you are good to go for several batches, you can piece meal specialty grains when you need them. Hops in bulk is also great, you can buy a pound at hops direct for about $15.

http://www.hopsdirect.com/hops/pellethops.html

Also keep a look out here for bulk buys for your local area you can save even more.
 

joety

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Bulk grains and hops is really the way to go. Even if only buying base grains in bulk it saves a huge amount of money. Get a bag of 2 Row, and may be a bag of wheat and you are good to go for several batches, you can piece meal specialty grains when you need them. Hops in bulk is also great, you can buy a pound at hops direct for about $15.

http://www.hopsdirect.com/hops/pellethops.html

Also keep a look out here for bulk buys for your local area you can save even more.
$15 would include shipping if you go for Williamette, which is only $6/lb. If you can organize a group buy, even cheaper.
 

Redbeard5289

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Sell your friends future pint contracts on your upcoming brews. Say you charge like $1.00 - 2.00 a pint. Well wait....that would likely be illegal. So sell your friends visits to your house, in which drinking a few pints may be an activity. As long as your making popular beer and getting a good finished product.
You could either have a friend or two pony up some money for the ingredients and split the finished product with them. Works well if you are doing bigger batches.
Or you can have some of your close friends over for a party and tell them that the beer is free but the plastic glasses will cost them a buck or two and they must get a new glass every time. Your close friends will understand your reasoning for charging for the glasses, others might not see the bigger picture.

Buying in bulk is expensive up front but the money you save in the long run is definately worth it. Especially if you figure up the grand total for a year's worth of brewing.
I am currently teamed up with a couple of my neighbors for buying bulk home-brewing ingredients. One neighbor buys bulk LME from our local LHBS and stores it in his chest freezer (he's got the room for the bulk LME container). When ever I need LME I give him a 24-48 hr notice so he can thaw out the LME and bring him a small bucket with lid and tell him how much I need. Our LHBS charges about $4 per pound of LME but in buying bulk LME we are paying $2 per pound.
My neighbors and I last month purchased a bulk order of pellet hops from Hops Direct. Our LHBS was charging us about $2.25 per oz for pellet hops but after doing the math (hops purchase and shipping/handling) we found that by buying in bulk from Hops Direct our price per oz went down to about $.35-.65.
We are even washing our yeast and accumulating an inventory so we don't have to purchase a smack pack with every brew.

After we switched over to bulk purchasing, we all have noticed our brew bill going down from the usual $20-30 per 5gal batch to about $12-16 now.

You can even cut costs with the beer styles that you brew up. Higher ABV% beers and brews with a huge hops requirement will definately cost you more money to create. But if you scale back to brewing up just "session beers" you can cut costs on your brewing hobby. Check out these two recipes here on the HBT forum, I have brewed both of these and they are great beers that don't drain your wallet.
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f64/pub-ale-21226/
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f67/mild-mannered-ale-ag-e-uk-us-52776/

Just my two cents, hope it helps...
Redbeard5289
 

frankjconway

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There's a book called "Wines and Beers of Old New England" available on Amazon and elsewhere that describes the "backyard" approach (along with modern equivalents) of making fermentable beverages. It's a pretty interesting read, and I think I got a used copy on there for under $5 or so.
 

JetSmooth

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I just finished spending around $500 for equipment to start doing all grain brews. To help offset the cost, I offered to show a friend how to brew (I haven't done it in about twelve years, but at least I know the theory) if he would buy the ingredients and "staples", which I estimated to be around $50. Figure splitting a five gallon batch would still get us around a case each. I then had a second friend who wanted to brew, so I offered for a $45 buy-in each, we'd split the batch three ways. Makes things a little more expensive per bottle, but we'd have a good time. Them, after I'd spent about $200 more than initially planned, I brought in another friend. Buy-in is now $40 and we're still splitting the five gallon batch three ways with me taking nothing.

THEN I realized I had a big enough setup to make seven gallons, so now I can take my share off the top. *winks*

They're helping to offset my equipment research, build effort, and time and they all get to learn how to brew.

The NEXT batch will likewise involve three friends pitching in $15 or $20 each this time. I still get my beer for free and start to alleviate the initial outlay of money.

From seven gallons, we should each get about 16-18 bottles, assuming all works out.

We'll do this every other month or so.

I'm calling this model a "Tupperbeer Party for Guys".
 

pkeeler

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The actual 2-row malt is just about the cheapest ingredient. Hops and yeast are the expensive ones. You could brew lower gravity, all grain, ales, pretty cheap. You can make a lauter tun from your bottling bucket and another food grade bucket (I've heard you can get these from fast food restaurants for $0.50). Or even just your bottling bucket and a grain bag.

If you were going to look into the backyard, you should probably try something more in the wine area. It is just about dandelion season. Your corn sugar, yeast, and the billions of flowers about to sprout would make quite a bit of dandelion wine.
 

kwaidonjin

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MUnton's hopped malt extract 15$ corn sugar .75c a lb. 16.75$ yeast included. pretty cheap for 6 gallons of beer.
 

IceFisherChris

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Get crushed grain and do the biggest boils you can. Reuse yeast whenever possible (so do back to back brews) You can substitute sugar in place of malt, but don't expect it to be awesome beer.
 

Synovia

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The actual 2-row malt is just about the cheapest ingredient. Hops and yeast are the expensive ones. You could brew lower gravity, all grain, ales, pretty cheap. You can make a lauter tun from your bottling bucket and another food grade bucket (I've heard you can get these from fast food restaurants for $0.50). Or even just your bottling bucket and a grain bag.
Hops and yeast aren't expensive either. Hops should be in the $.50-$.70/oz if you buy in bulk, and yeast, if washed, will get down to well under $1/brew.
 

svengoat

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Might as well grow your own hops, it's pretty easy and they are $4.50 a plant.. Order a science kit online and propagate yeast cultures.. You can knock out the 2 biggest expenses for around 20 bucks (assuming you have the space for hops):mug:
 

Homercidal

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Forget the yeast and corn sugar. Buy bulk 2-Row and bulk hops. maybe go in with others in a group buy. The yeast you can get from bottles of commercial, or your friends can split some with you. Starters are pretty easy to make and maintain.

The corn sugar for priming can be substituted with table sugar with no ill effects. Just little bit different amount. The small amount used for priming will not affect the flavor at all.

And lighter beers (by ABV) will use less grains per bottle, and cost less. Just won't give you a buzz as quick. I think I could brew a Pale Ale for about $15 a batch. That's about 33 cents a beer, figuring 45 beers in a batch.
 

Homercidal

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Might as well grow your own hops, it's pretty easy and they are $4.50 a plant.. Order a science kit online and propagate yeast cultures.. You can knock out the 2 biggest expenses for around 20 bucks (assuming you have the space for hops):mug:
+1 on hops growing if you can. I had a couple of pounds on my second year last year. Planning on even more this year, and that is only 3 plants.
 

oceanselv

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Hemlock, I feel your pain. The economy has forced me to take over a $50,000 a year pay cut. Until the economy improves what I have been doing is slowly buying in bulk. I started with hops as they were the cheapest, offered the greatest savings as a percentage of what my LHBS charges and it was what I could afford at the time. Next I started to buy Maris Otter in 55 lbs from North Country Malt. I only save about $20 on a bag when freight is included, but by saving $20 on a bag and at least that much on my hops I have enough money to buy more specialty grains. With the MO and the wider selection of specialty grains and bulk hops I have no problem brewing many different types of ales. I went with the Maris Otter instead of American 2 row because I like British style Ales. Once I save enough money to buy another bag of bulk grain I buy some pilsner malt so I can brew ales and lagers.
 

oceanselv

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BTW Hemlock I took my cost for a 5 gallon batch from around $60 to between $40 and $50 depending on the gravity and the amount of specialty grains and hops I add. This cost includes all of my materials except the bottles.
 
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