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home brewing costs - is it me?

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axr

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Homebrew homies - (sorry in advance for the long thread)

This by no means is meant to be a complaint thread but more of a sanity check.

I got into homebrewing because I really enjoy drinking beer, wanted to make my own through experimentation, share with friends/family and because I am intrigued by the process. A small part of me thought that I would be saving some cash -with the exception of equipment start up costs- by brewing my own vs. buying beer by the case. At any rate, I'm about to brew my 3rd batch, an IPA, and the cost of ingredients ended up being $68. My second batch, a Hefe, cost around $61 and my 1st batch was a kit at $34. I don't think there is much savings, in fact, I think it's little more expensive in some cases. I know if I get really into this, which I already see occuring, I can begin to buy ingredients in bulk and save some cash...but I'm not there yet.

Again, not complaining, just wondering if it's me or if brewing beer is somewhat pricey. I know the enjoyment comes from enjoying the fruits of your labor and sharing it with friends, etc., etc. Just wondering if anyone else was/is a bit surprised by overall costs.

Thanks
 

Beerzoid

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Sounds like you have a really expensive LHBS. My extract beers have ranged from $20 (Hefe) all the way to $55 (IIPA with 8oz of hops).


Are you using Dry or Liquid extract? Liquid is usually much cheaper.

Dry of liquid Yeast?
 

Edcculus

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How are you brewing? Extract is significantly more expensive than all grain. All grain on the other hand requires more specailized equipment. Going all grain, buying in bulk, milling your grain, and buying hops in bulk, you can drive prices down to $15-25 a batch.

In the end, we all like to save some money, but as with any hobby, you end up spending a little more on something you love doing.

BTW, ~$70 a batch seems a little steep. I'd look at sourcing ingridents from somewhere else.
 

Brewmasters Warehouse

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I can not speak for how things are in NJ, but in Atlanta all the commercial beers that I enjoy only come in 4 or 6 packs that cost from 7.99 to 9.99. That puts a case of beer at 32 - 36, and 2 cases at 64 - 72. If your batch costs 68 then it looks to be about break even. Your costs will go down and you buy more in bulk, and I would have to say that most people on the board would say that this is not a hobby that will lead to saving money. I brew because I enjoy it, and saving money on not having to buy beer is a bonus. It could be worse you can spend more money on golf then brewing, and still have to buy beer.
 

Evan!

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If you're using malt extract, yes, it's terribly expensive. Those prices are crazy high. The sooner your get into all-grain brewing, the sooner you're start to see HUGE savings. I can brew up 5 gallons of my Summer Blonde for under $10. You can buy 2-row malt in 50 lb sacks for very cheap...$1.00/lb or less. You can buy bulk hops by the pound from hopsdirect at a great discount. If you buy a nice mellow, high-alpha bittering hop like Magnum from them, you can use it as the bittering hop in a lot of your beers, and since the AA% is so high, you don't have to use much, and it's very cost effective. If you use liquid yeast, you need to start washing and reusing your yeast---$7/batch for yeast is prohibitively expensive, but if you can get 5 or more uses out of one vial, it brings the cost down to below that of dry yeast. There's a sticky on this forum on how to wash and reuse yeast.

That's all I can really tell ya...the most expensive part about early brewing is the malt extract...so you're going to need to spend money to save money. Get a mash cooler, and a barley crusher, and you'll recuperate those costs quickly by saving $$ on malt. Then go with my other methods above, and pretty soon you too will be spending ~$10-$15 on a batch.
 

conpewter

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Even with extract/kits you save money per beer. If I can make an IPA that is a clone of Ruination I know I will save money over buying the bottles.

But the problem with this whole thing is my (and others) addiction to improving my process. Brew-rigs, fermentation chambers, kegorators etc. have cost me a ton, but since it is a hobby, it is something I enjoy spending money on.
 

BobOscarBob

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When I brewed extract, my batches cost a bit more than they do now (AG)...but my average cost per batch is now around $28-$30. I've got everything for a DFH 60 minute IPA - that was closer to $45 due to extra grain and - well - a 'few' extra hops... Some of my batches are $22 before shipping...

These are online costs - not LHBS costs. I also order enough at a time to do 3-4 batches - tends to lower the shipping cost per batch (at least it feels that way). I did find that a $35 IPA I made not too long ago would have cost me $65 at my LHBS. I order way more online now but will still get a couple batches worth of ingredients there - I'll support a higher price to get the convenience of a Saturday morning "awcrapIforgottheyeast" run to the LHBS...
 

lamarguy

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So, you're IPA cost $68 / 53 = $1.28/beer which is still cheaper than most commercial IPAs out there at $7.69/pack.

I assume you're using extract and buying hops by the ounce. Your long-term best cost savings is to invest in a *simple* all-grain system and buy your grain/hops in bulk. You should then be able to brew a 5 gallon batch for approximately $20 - $25 dollars, which puts your cost at less than $0.50/beer. ;)
 

Nugu

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I find that I save on per-batch, even using extracts (in kits) compared to cheapie beer. I save even more compared to Micro-brew beer. (From a price perspective, even my cheapest kit > the cheap bmc)

The problem is the EQUIPMENT. My brew-partner (Brother, he pays half & I do all the work) and I have spent about $1,247 total. For 6 Beers/Apfelwein.

We don't even have the big mash setup and stuff, I plan to do Brew-in-a-bag to go All Grain 3 gallon batches with my 5 gallon extract SS pot. Half of the cost though was being a misinformed consumer, I wanted to start RIGHT NOW.

After getting a 100$ starter kit, wasting 70$ on bottles, 260$ on 3 carboys+kit+cider 121$ on 3 beer kits, 40$ on beer glasses (plastic just sucks for beer), and most recently 500$ on a 20 lb co2 + regulator + hoses + 12 kegs.

The one thing I really regret was the bottles.


Currently counting equipment = $3.90 per 12 oz bottle of alcohol (this is including Apfelwein)
Not counting equipment = $0.60 per 12 oz bottle


After I transition to BIAB 3 gallon batching + bulking 2-row I'm expecting my costs to drop as low as 10$ a batch.

In all honesty, I have 3 hobbies now. Good Beer, Good Sound (I have a tighter budget on this than brewing), and Computers. Brewing beer has given me as much enjoyment per time investment as any of them and the final product has enhanced the enjoyment of the other 2. Sound gets better after 2 beers, I swear it.

BIAB = http://www.thebrewingnetwork.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4650&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0/fa
 

SpanishCastleAle

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Some people wonder why we go to all the trouble to brew beer and I always tell them: "I don't brew to have beer...I could much more easily go to the store for that. I brew because I like brewing. And I prob spend way less on my hobby than you do on golf/fishing/hunting/etc."

But your numbers do seem way high. For $68 you could buy a whole 55# sack of grain and 1# of whole hops...or at least close to it depending on your supplier(s) and varieties.
 

SchizoFilly

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You will NOT save money trying to brew a knock off of BMC. Also, the whole bulk buying thing applies in extract brewing as well.

DMEmart.com free shipping is the kicker on this one. $65 for 18lbs of DME, that's less than you spent on your IPA, and probably enough malt to make that IPA 3 times, depending on recipe of course.
hopsdirect.com as noted several times around this forum, you buy the pound but you may wind up with a pound and a half.

and then wash/reuse your yeast as suggested above. Pick up what specialty grains you need for your batch and you can drive your cost down to well below what most beer you can buy off the shelf that is decent will cost you. Just shop around and you can find lower prices. LHBS will usually be more expensive if you don't have Austin HB or Northern HB as your LHBS. I'm not saying don't support the local guy. Buy you yeast and specialty grains local, but get your malt and hops in bulk online.
 

CBBaron

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Your costs are way to high. You should be able to buy ingredients at a similar price to the good kits like sold by AHS, Norther Brewer, Midwest, etc. Those extract + grain kits range in price from just under $30 to into the $50s for imperial beers. A hefe should cost about $30 and an IPA between $40 and $50. If you are paying more than that you are being over charged. I would look at some of the online stores and buy a couple kits or ingredients for a couple brew at a time to save shipping.

It is more up front but once you get the hardware to go all grain and crush your malt then you can buy in bulk and save a considerable amount. My beers average just over $20 in costs. A few have been cheaper, however brewing a few imperial stouts, barleywines or IIPAs can really drive up the costs.

craig

Homebrew homies - (sorry in advance for the long thread)

This by no means is meant to be a complaint thread but more of a sanity check.

I got into homebrewing because I really enjoy drinking beer, wanted to make my own through experimentation, share with friends/family and because I am intrigued by the process. A small part of me thought that I would be saving some cash -with the exception of equipment start up costs- by brewing my own vs. buying beer by the case. At any rate, I'm about to brew my 3rd batch, an IPA, and the cost of ingredients ended up being $68. My second batch, a Hefe, cost around $61 and my 1st batch was a kit at $34. I don't think there is much savings, in fact, I think it's little more expensive in some cases. I know if I get really into this, which I already see occuring, I can begin to buy ingredients in bulk and save some cash...but I'm not there yet.

Again, not complaining, just wondering if it's me or if brewing beer is somewhat pricey. I know the enjoyment comes from enjoying the fruits of your labor and sharing it with friends, etc., etc. Just wondering if anyone else was/is a bit surprised by overall costs.

Thanks
 

humann_brewing

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I think everyone has hit good points here and yes it sounds like your LHBS has pretty steep prices and you are brewing extract.

I use to get 2 batches at a time when I was an extract brewer from places like NB since they had a flat shipping price and I also tried to pick ones that were on sale if I could. It was usually $60-70 for 2 batches shipped of say an amber ale and porter.

As far as bringing it down lower than that you will need to buy in bulk and if you really want to lower it. All grain is the way but has it's start up costs but there are people on here that have done so almost free with turning old coolers around the house into a mash/tun and so on.

I haven't really tracked a per batch price because I have so much adjunct grains and hops on hand in addition to a 50lb bag of base malt. I paid $33 for 50lbs of 2-row or .66c/lb and most of the adjust grains are around $1.50/lb so at 85% efficiency I use about 8lbs of base grain and somewhere in the range of 2lbs of adjunct grains, so I am under $10 for the grain. Then I wash yeas and reuse so I may get 4 brews out of a $6 liquid yeast. Then I buy some hops in bulk, I got 1lb of willamette for $20 and 1lb of cascades for $22 and have a lot of other hops in smaller amounts.

I am usually in the $15 range for a average 5-6% beer.

My light lager was less than $10 though with only 7.5lbs of grain and 2oz of hops.
 

Nugu

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All grain is the way but has it's start up costs but there are people on here that have done so almost free with turning old coolers around the house into a mash/tun and so on.
Don't forget he can change to AG by simply buying a grain bag, or at the very least Partials.
 

Sigafoos

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Oh god, another 'is brewing cheaper' thread. /hide

As others have said: do it for the enjoyment, not any potential savings. And get a new LHBS.
 

TwoHeadsBrewing

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A lot depends on your supplier, but any 5 gallon kit over $50 is ridiculous IMHO. One of the reasons I went to all grain was to save money because extract is expensive! I would pay around $25 just for extract, whereas the grain to make that extract is about $15 at the LHBS. This gets even better if you buy a barley crusher, and get grains in bulk. My cost for that much grain now is $7-10 per 5 gallon batch. My total cost for an 11 gallon batch of beer is under $30 for a lighter beer, and my last IIPA was $38 for 11 gallons.

It takes some $$$ to buy the crusher and all grain equipment, but with a couple hundred invested your cost per batch goes down drastically. Plus it's great to be able to brew whenever you want without having to order anything or run down to the LHBS.
 

SpanishCastleAle

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That's funny, my hobbies are homebrewing, golf, fishing, and hunting. But homebrew is starting to take over - not much left for golf anymore.
:D
I just picked the 3 most likely candidates here in Florida...but I guess they're pretty much the same in Texas. I was born in Houston and lived in Austin as a kid.:mug:
 

buzzkill

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Do you enjoy it? I told my wife when I started it was going to save money. and she now shakes her head every time I give her the old "once I get this It will be even cheaper". but I love it,and to create a brew that is as good if now better than the high end craft brew at the bottle store. To share with friends and family. Its priceless man.

you can make an el cheapo mash tun with a bung,S.S. braid and knock that cost down.

Once you get the taste of real beer, you will never be happy with swill.;)
 

Slipgate

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For the AG brewers - How much money is spent on the boiling process vs extract brewing? I am trying to see if AG brewing costs more in /electric/gas/propane.
 

The Pol

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You CAN AG brew for cheap. Many of us have toys that fer exceed what is necessary. As it has been stated, buying in bulk will cut costs by 50% or more.

I am finishing up a group hop buy here in Indy where the AVERAGE PRICE PER OUNCE was $1.31 SHIPPED, SPLIT and RESEALED!

I can also get sacks of grain at the LHBS for $41, almost $.80/pound.

If you want to save money brewing, you can, most of us dont care to when it comes to equipment.
 

carnevoodoo

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If you want to save money brewing, you can, most of us dont care to when it comes to equipment.
So true. The only thing I try to find the best price on is hops because they are getting to be a bit out there. Other than that, I've never really even cared about cost. I brew for fun not for cost.
 

SpanishCastleAle

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If you want to save money brewing, you can, most of us dont care to when it comes to equipment.
I think because at my job I have to design/draw/purchase all sorts of unnecessary crap so people can push a button and go read the paper instead of using a little elbow grease...that I rebel against 'equipment'. So I just use plain ole pots, buckets, glass carboys, and manpower. But now that the pipeline is full and I'll need to get my weekly brewing fix some other way...that may change.;) Designing/building brewing equipment is just another facet of the hobby (almost a whole 'nuther hobby) that some do and some don't. Must...resist...temptation.:D
 

ChshreCat

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Moving to large PM's can help too. After a few PM batches in my spaghetti pot, I picked up a 5 gallon cooler. Now I can do a partial mash as big as I can boil on my stove so I'm down to just a few lbs of extract added late in the boil. Sooooooooo close to being all grain, but not quite there.

Between cutting down on the extract I use and buying some of the hops I use the most in bulk, I'm looking at cutting down my price per batch by a good chunk.
 

KYB

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For the AG brewers - How much money is spent on the boiling process vs extract brewing? I am trying to see if AG brewing costs more in /electric/gas/propane.
It would be the same for AG if you boiled on a propane burner for extract.

Style for style, homebrewing is cheaper, ingredient wise. It can pay off your equipment over time, but people always tend to spend money on more or different equipment, or something beer related. My most expensive brew has been my IIPA, coming out at about $62, shipped (had to get online), with 12oz of hops. I wasn't trying to save any money, and went with more hops than fewer high alpha hops. Hell my Blonde Ale was $15. I got my Dry Stout and Better Blonde Ale recipes for $42 combined at My Old Kentucky Homebrew in Louisville.
 

The Pol

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I mean, you CAN get 12 pounds of malt for $12 and 8 ounces of hops for $10. So you can brew up a NICE IPA for $22, including shipping. That is $11 a case! AWESOME!

I just bought over 100oz. of hops for $128!
 

woollybugger2

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That's funny, my hobbies are homebrewing, golf, fishing, and hunting. But homebrew is starting to take over - not much left for golf anymore.
+ 1 on brewing taking away from previous #1 hobby (fly fishing)
 

Whut

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Going all grain dropped my prices drastically. But wait, this has already been said. Crap, late again.

If you're looking to save money then quit brewing, buy a kegerator, and get kegs of BMC. But if you want to brew a barley pop that will be far better tasting, then continue down this path.

Edit: Let me rephrase, if you're looking to save money then don't by the equipment to go all grain - just do what I stated above. This is what I left out and I totally agree with LGI below. My problem is that I'm always seeing something new that I just have to have and spending more money on it.

All kidding aside, keep doing what you're doing but shop around for your ingredients as they can be had for far cheaper. NB, MoreBeer, Austin Homebrewing, Midwest, just to name a few. There's also probably a vendor on here that could assist you. This is a path well traveled with lots of great mentors on here to guide you. I know I wish I had found it a few years back when I first started.
 

Laughing_Gnome_Invisible

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I brew good beer cheaper than I can buy BMC......AND I love doing it! There really is no down side to this hobby.
 

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You can start saving money by buying extract in bulk, but honestly, the real drop is going AG AND buying in bulk.

There is an investment in going AG. Mash tun, larger kettle, crusher (if you want to buy bulk and crush your own grain to prevent spoilage), etc.

After that you can pretty much cut your brew costs in half for each batch. I paid $40 for a sack of 2-row. 50#.
 

craigd

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It would be the same for AG if you boiled on a propane burner for extract.

I don't agree. With AG I have to run my propane burner to heat the mash water, heat the sparge water, and then boil. With extract I just boil and depending on the brew I may only do a partial boil which uses less gas. With PMs I do use a little electric to heat mash and sparge water but not anywhere near the volumes so I'd say my Propane use is much higher for AG but still not a significant cost difference. Bigger is the annoyance of swapping / filling tanks more frequently.
 

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Extract is the real stinker when it comes to cost. It helps if you buy bulk though. I got 50 lbs. of DME online for a good deal, and then by the time I'd gone through that, was ready for AG. Washing liquid yeast, or using dry helps a lot too (nothing at all wrong with dry yeast). $60+ is really high, especially if it's a normal gravity brew without a lot of extras (spices, crazy amounts of hops, etc.).

With AG, I found that I had more fun, for less money, and it resulted in better beer (at least in my experience). In terms of moving in on other hobbies-my biggest other one is disc golf. I can play during the week, but tournaments are always on weekends...I can only brew on weekends as well. The pipelines are still full from winter now, but I may need some double batch days if I want to stay stocked.
 

KUbrew

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I recently bought ingredients from brewmasters wharehouse for my next few wheats and priced it out to $0.40/beer including shipping. I don't have a crusher, so buying in bulk isn't really an option for me right now but that will only drop the price further. Washing yeast has been the most cost saving thing that I have done so far. From one package of yeast, you can get at least 2 or 3 mason jars of yeast that can be used and washed several more times. Saving $7 a batch really adds up.
 

CBBaron

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I don't agree. With AG I have to run my propane burner to heat the mash water, heat the sparge water, and then boil. With extract I just boil and depending on the brew I may only do a partial boil which uses less gas. With PMs I do use a little electric to heat mash and sparge water but not anywhere near the volumes so I'd say my Propane use is much higher for AG but still not a significant cost difference. Bigger is the annoyance of swapping / filling tanks more frequently.
If you are doing a full boil then the only additional heating costs for extract are heating the grain and water absorbed by the grain. The wort going into your brew kettle is already preheated unlike the cold water you start with for extract. Over all the cost difference is minimal.

Now if you are comparing partial boils to AG the difference can be noticable and it increases even more if you boil down large volumes for you big beers. However in any case your boil costs should be small compared to ingredient costs.

Craig
 

SpanishCastleAle

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I use more fuel overall but even though I have 2 propane burners I still usually mash on the stove. Since you don't heat the strike water all the way up to a boil and since it's less volume to heat, a regular stove can do full AG mashes even for big beers (6 gal. batches though). I usually just heat the sparge water and do the boil on the propane. Less tank changeouts.
 
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