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How would you go cheap?

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artyboy

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Buying from the home brew store I end up spending just about the same amount of money brewing my own beer as I would buying the same amount of good micro brew from the liquor store. What do you do to get your costs down? Once I get my all grain setup finished that'll help a bit. I might even try my hand at growing my own hops. I've thought about going to the feed store down the street and buying a 50 lb bag of wheat from them. Barley isn't a whole lot more expensive. I've got the basic equipment. Now I want to know how to buy the ingredients as cheaply as possible.
 

eschatz

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Edworts Apfelwein! look it up on the recipe database... this is so good/cheap. its worth your time.
 

Beerrific

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1. Dry yeast
2. Reuse liquid yeast
3. Brew low hoped beers, hops are getting expensive.
4. Buy in bulk wherever possible.
5. Feed wheat is not the same as brewing wheat.
 

homebrewer_99

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Use liquid yeast and learn how to wash it for re-use and buy everything else in bulk (usually NOT from a HBS...buying a lot of the same supplies and paying the same as 3 lb bags of malt is not buying bulk...). :D
 

Schlenkerla

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artyboy - Most of us don't do it for the cheapness aspect. We do it for entertainment and self gratification. We also do it because we like to share with friends. You do to obesses about beer.

I think most people who are involved in this hobby are gadget liking people. They are DIYers and tend to lean to being technical/analytical types. Therefore its not always for doin' it on the cheap. Its doing because you just like to.

How many batches do you have under your belt?

If you start goin AG, and growing your own hops you'll question the time you spend and say you can go buy it for definately less effort, but you won't because of all the things I said above. If you buy barley at the feed store you have to malt it and roast it before you can mash or brew with it so more time spent... ... and growing your own hops, you gotta give your 1st year hops a lot of TLC. Watering & weeding and subsequent years its less watering more weeding and lots of pruning.

You do it because you love it and its better than watching the crap on TV!

:mug:
 

Rick_R

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Most of us don't do it for the cheapness aspect
Yeah, I don't even try to pretend to SWMBO that this is saving money. Placed orders yesterday for $250+, basically ingredients for two 5g batches (extract), some equipment & bottles, and a bit of a hop hoarding effort (just getting a few reserves in place, not buying poundage or nuttin'). It do add up.

As for gadgets, I spent some of this afternoon gutting an old hard drive and PC fan to get a Frankenstirrer going; planning a starter this batch. It's ugly but Houston, we do have vortex.

Rick
 

ohiobrewtus

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Agreed. If you're getting into homebrewing to save money you're probably doing it for the wrong reasons.

While you may be able to save a few bucks here and there, once you get into this hobby and start dropping money on equipment upgrades you can expect to at best break even (at least from my experience).

I don't brew to save money, I brew to make good beer that I can call my own. There's nothing better than pulling a pint from my kegerator and saying "I made this".
 

PeteOz77

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Considering that a decent cooper's extract kit with Morgan's 1.5KG malt can cost less than $22 from the LHBS, and case of CHEAP beer her costs over $35 (so roughly $85-$95 dollars for the same amount of beer as one extract brew), it's a BIG cost savings for us Aussies. The tax on any sort of alcohol (or Cigarettes) is VERY high here, so home brewing is a great opportunity to save yourself a LOT of cash. I know quite a few people who just go buy a cheap extract kit, the cheapest malts etc and are very happy with their brews. They are BMC drinkers, and aren't looking for high quaility beer, they are doing it to save a buck. and they do!

I also know a lot of people (myself included) that prefer a NICE beer, and those are really expensive here... so again home brewing is WELL worth it on the higher end for cost savings as well.

How bad are the liquor taxes here? a 700ml bottle of Johnny walker RED cost $30, black is $55 and Chivas is $60.
 

Got Trub?

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As I heard on one of the brewing podcasts - it's alot cheaper hobby then buying a bass boat...

You must be paying top dollar at your LHBS if you can't get ingredients for 5g significantly cheaper then an equivalent volume of microbrew costs. I believe in supporting your local LHBS but not if you are getting gouged. I order some stuff on line, you can get free shipping from some places once your order is large enough and avoid state taxes in some cases as well.

GT
 

Poindexter

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I agree that using less extract and more grains is a great place to look for savings.

I spent US$6.99 for a nylon mesh bag, I mash in the 5g brew kettle I already had and use my (already had) bottling bucket for my lauter tun.

I can handle about 4-5 pounds of grain per batch, but the more grain I use the better my beer tastes _and_ the less it costs.


I already had a thermometer, that will be another five bucks if you don't have one.
 

Donasay

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Going all grain is the biggest help, the barley you get at the feed store is usually unmalted and requires that you go through the process of malting it. The hop problem is increasing the cost for everyone, the only solution to this is to either grow your own hops which will save you money some time around September, or go back in time and buy about 10 lbs of hops some time about 9 months ago.
 

missing link

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Having just made the switch from PM to AG, I can say that AG is the cheapest of the methods. My average batch was about $35 - $45 doing PM and is now about $25 doing all grain. In Michigan, a 6 pack of micro costs $9, if you get 54 bottles out of a batch that's $81 for the micro vs $45 at the most even for PM.

My local brewery will fill a cornie for $37, if you want cheap that can't be beat. Excellent beer for only $10 more than the ingredients!!!

Linc
 
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I must admit I brew because I like good beer and I'm too cheap to buy it. $20 for 5 gallons of ingredients is a lot cheaper than $72 for 9 six packs at $8 each.
 

abracadabra

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Look for homebrew clubs in your area or post on this forum. See if you can attract interest in a group buy. I've heard the minium for a pallet of grain is 40 each 50 lb. bags. So if you could get 9 other people to take 4 bags each that's doable.

Nothing wrong with growing your own hops if you like gardening. But just like brewing your own beer if your time has any value to you then it's not a money saving endeavor.

Other things that might save money is using other grains such as rice, wheat, corn, oats or other high carbohydrate vegi like potatoes.

Not being a hop head or brewing with less hops is a money saver big time.

Others have mentioned dry yeast but also pitching on top of an existing yeast cake saves you from having to buy yeast again. Likewise not brewing so many different kinds of beer so that you can use 1 type of yeast.

Brew for others if they give you some of the product. I understand it's legal as long as they picth the yeast.

On the good news, bad news front the savings should increase because the price of beer especially good beer is going up. I'm sure the big boys price increases will be less than small breweries simply because of their buying power and long term contracts.
 

Gammon N Beer

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A big part of this hobby for me is yes, great beer. But the challenge of making stuff on the cheap, finding it on Craig's list, expanding the hobby to yeast harvesting etc offers so much enjoyment to me.

Then there is helping the new brewer down the street by lending them your extra equipment, bartering and sooooo much more to this thing.

Enjoy.
 

john from dc

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homebrewer_99 said:
Use liquid yeast and learn how to wash it for re-use and buy everything else in bulk (usually NOT from a HBS...buying a lot of the same supplies and paying the same as 3 lb bags of malt is not buying bulk...). :D
ok, so where should i be looking for bulk dme?
 

sirsloop

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Harvest and reuse yeast, grow your own hops, and make pale brews. Cider is dirt cheap to make and is usually a hit. Buy in bulk from shops that offer flat rate shipping, or from your LHBS if the prices are reasonable. For example you can usually get a discount on stuff like grain or extract if you get 50lbs of it. It may take a while to use it all up, but if you can knock off .50/lbs thats quite a large overall savings.
 

Boerderij_Kabouter

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You really have to look at your goals. Brewing your own can be cheap but if you like good beer, you will unavoidably go beyond the $25 starter kit and an enamelware pot. The equipment gets expensive but it is worth it. I definitely make better beer because of my upgraded equipment. That said you CAN buy a $25 starter kit and make beer. This would be an economical way of imbibing alcohol and is a good hobby for college.

That said, once you do have a suitable setup, it is cheaper to brew your own than to buy micros. I brew 10g batches buying all ingredients from my LHBS (not reusing yeast) for ~$60 a batch (normal beer ~1.060 OG).

Give it a go!
 

BrewDey

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I'd have to agree with most on here that producing quality beer is only one part of the motivation. I enjoy the process as well-and I like to learn and experiment.

A brewer-buddy and I have just gotten into AG, and it has been a lot more fun, and cheaper too. I'd have to admit that a big part of it though is a reason to hang out with friends, shoot the breeze, drink both homebrewed and commerical beer as you work, share tips and advice, listen to music, and basicly just have a good time.

When the day is over, you've got a few batches of beer to show for it. You've also had several hours of enjoyment. I kind of compare it to guys who really like working on their cars-it's more than just the end product. AG requires more time, so you really need to schedule a weekend day (or at least a good chunk of that day). But during the week you can bottle, clean/harvest yeast, make a starter, etc. Re-using yeast and going AG help save $$ and also make it much more of an 'event' IMO.
 

john from dc

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loopmd said:
thanks, i did do a search and read that thread. i guess i was wondering if there was any step between 3-5 lb bags and 55 lbs.

i have to get packages shipped to my office and commute by bike so 55lbs is pretty much out. also it's only a matter of time before i go all grain so i doubt i'd use all of it.
 

The Pol

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I have to say, as another member did... do not buy ingredients at a livestock feed store. Brewing grains are malted and kilned, livestick feed is not. Also, I grew up on a farm, bought alot of livestock feed... even if you did malt it and kiln it, it is cattle feed, it wont make good beer.
 
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artyboy

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Of course I value my time. When I'm spending it doing something that I enjoy I value it a lot less than when I'm spending it doing something that I don't want to do. Brewing beer is a lot of fun so I don't really value my time spent doing it. I also realize that part of your cost is tied up in the equipment. The thing about equipment is that once you have it you don't have to pay for it anymore (assuming you don't put it on credit). I already have most of what I need so getting the last few things wouldn't be a big expense.

I don't know how many of you watch the news but our immediate economic future is looking pretty uncertain right now. Putting up enough raw materials to make several batches of beer doesn't seem like such a bad idea. Hops are getting expensive as most of you know (how many of you wish that you would've stocked up a year ago?). Grain prices are also going up. The next couple of years could get a little hairy so I'm just trying to plan ahead where I can. If things get tight around here my beer budget is going to be the first thing that goes away.
 

evermuse

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This whole thread I find 100% confusing. I brew with extract and get a 6 pack in the end, that (I think) is far better than most pricey beers, for about 2 bucks a 6 pack. That's less then I can pay the cheapest macro brew available. Maybe It's just that I'm in Chicago? I've been reusing my yeast as of my second (of 10) batch. I also use plastic, and have a very cheap brew pot. I've seen prices online that I would never pay.I've looked around online and seen all these folks who have spent thousands on homebrew gear, and I even know one here, but I have never felt like homebrewing was out of my reach due to funds. And folks, I don't make much money.
 

beala

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Economics is an amazing thing. The cost will eventually equalize in the end, unless you really think your process is more efficient than the 100+ gal batches that commercial places can make. As PeteOz77 pointed out, the only way it could really be cheaper is if you live in a place where there are high beer taxes. In the US, this isn't a problem for beer so much as it's a problem for liquor. If you really wanna save money, start distilling. The liquor taxes here in the US are ridiculous, but I guess we're not allowed to talk about distilling here ;)

One case in point: wine kits started getting popular first in canada because the wine taxes were so high. Check the packaging. To this day, many of the wine kit companies are still based in canada.
 

Danek

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The best way I can think of to go cheap is to find a really good recipe for a relatively low-alcohol, all-grain beer. (And I mean low alcohol as around 4 or 5% ABV - just not an Imperial IPA). Specifically I mean something like Edwort's Haus Pale Ale. With a relatively modest gravity range, you don't need as large a hop-bill to balance the beer, and you don't have to spend much on grain in the first place. I also use dry yeast as it's a quarter the price of liquid, though for people who re-use yeast, that's neither here nor there.

I didn't get into homebrewing to save money, so if I want a big hoppy beer (for example) then I'll pay for the ingredients to get one. But it's also nice to know that if I did want to make savings, then I could make a house beer that's better than, and cheaper than, the stuff in the beer shop down the road.
 

capcrnch

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Got Trub? said:
As I heard on one of the brewing podcasts - it's alot cheaper hobby then buying a bass boat...
On that note.. Going by the old saying.. The 2 happiest days in a boat owners life are the day he buys the boat and the day he sells the boat..
At least with home brewing, you bring yourself joy every couple months at least ;)
 

joshpooh

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I can think of so many ways to look at the economics of homebrewing, and some ways it seems like a bargain and some it seems like a ripoff. If you consider your time into the cost the price of your homebrew would be ridiculous. Think about it, you have the brew day, racking to secondary, bottling. I consider this an enjoyable hobby, other than bottling and even that isn't too bad so time is no consideration for me.

If you consider what you spend on equiptment, plus ingredients as compared to what you would spend on a comparable beer, it won't take you too long to be ahead of the game as long as your setup isn't too fancy. My problem looking at things this way is I give away so much beer because friends are interested in trying my beer. So I have to basically say I'm producing about 75% of what I really produce to account for the cost of what I give away.

The best way to look at it is as a hobby. This makes it dirt cheap. Think about it, you would spend so much more playing a round of golf and have nothing to show for it at the end of the day. Brewing an AG batch is a full day worth of entertainment, and eventually you get some great beer to drink. I don't think it gets much better than that.
 

javedian

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I got into homebrewing in college - I couldn't stomach cheap macro frat swill, but couldn't afford too much premium beer. I didn't skimp on ingredients, but brewed to my taste and was able to have more beer for the $. Now, having gone all grain with minimal equip, I still brew for quality, but cash is still very tight.

One way to (slightly) reduce costs is to brew with sugar. I can get palm sugar and unrefined Mexican sugar locally for cheap. Cost per point of gravity is about 1/2 of grain, and significantly less than LME or DME. Using 10-20% adds some complexity (if the sugar has flavor, not white table sugar), and keeps the body a little lighter. I only use it for beers >1.050, as then you still have a good malt body.

You can also brew session beers. I just got my order from B3 for ingredients to make mild / ordinary bitter / southern English brown, etc. I am planning on doing 2-3 low gravity beers with one tube of liquid British yeast then a good IPA. Hard to beat a good flavorful beer using 6-8 lbs of grain and 3/4 oz of hops. I figure my cost per batch will be $12-15 total. I can't wait til I can afford a mill and buy grains in bulk. That would drop the cost to under $10/batch.
 

|-|edghog

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A case of decent beer in Canada = $45.00

One 5 gallon batch = 2.5 cases = $112.50

One 5 gallon batch uses:
7.5# Malt extract = $20.00
1.5# Specialty Grains = $3.00
4oz Hops = $8.00
Yeast is free if you wash it.

For a total of $31.00 plus water and propane.

So I would say it's definitely cheaper up here in Canada.

As a matter of fact, being on welfare is what got me started into home-brewing.

Hedghog
 

Finn

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Hoots mon, cheap is easy. A basic beer kit-in-a-can costs $25 and contains 3.3 pounds of bittered-up LME to which you're supposed to add what, 3 pounds of sugar? Well, that's $8 worth of extract. Four bucks for two ounces of high-IBU hops, a buck for dry yeast, $1.50 for three pounds of Pure Cane Sugar and brother, you are on your way.:mug:
 

The Pol

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I cant buy the beer that I like at the store, so there are no economics involved it... I just cant BUY beer that I LIKE. I HAVE to make it... $$$ was never the issue.
 

donaldson

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Somebody has already said it: buy in bulk! I am fortunate enough to live close to Gilbertson and Page - a malt distribution company. I dropped by last week and purchased two 25kg (55#) bags of Canadian 2-Row. Each bag cost me just $30 Canadian (about $24 USD). That's 0.54 cents a pound or $1.20 a kilo!

The two bags will last me into the spring. Then it'll be time to drive over to Fergus again!
 

hcarter

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Try Deathbrewers AG on a stove top. No fancy equipment at all. That seems to save me a little money.
 

BrewinJack

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I got to say this... home brewin is already cheeper ten buying beer already... but its not as satisfying nor as purely a way to pas the time for ones self... I spent 50 dallors on one batch of hard cider.... i am trying to perfect a way to brew high ABV.... it has cost me over 200 dalors so far... i got into distilling for awhile and it cost me well over 500 dallors, and i didnt even get a finnished prouct before i dismanteled my still and turned it into a water heater for my parents hot tub and gaveup completely... its not rotting your brain like reeality TV, or making you want to jump offa bridge like TV drama thse days... its good clean home brewin where you live an learn what it might be like to providefor yourself what you would only other wise have to get from others.... its a great feeling to know that if the world changed someday and you had to survive on skills you had that you could cound among anything else you could do that you could change simple ingredants into a wonderdful relaxing bevrage... its empowering, its taking a part of your life into your own hands.... but if your really serious about saving money because the ecomy is down the drain and maybe your poket bok is feling that strain more then usal... then shop around for your ingredants, look online, look atyour local walmart or organic health food store (saw a 3 pound bottle of barley malt at my local for about 7 bucks i am looking to see if thats a bargin)... go farmer direct. Brew with honey instead of sugar and get that honey from your local bee keeper.... my folks are getting a couple bee hives and i plan to on useing the honey to cut back on the sugar i buy... make bigger baches they last longer so you dont brew as much... brew shop prices tend to be much much higher then nessacry... i live a few towns away from Bells micro brewery( the jewl and only living pride of my home state)... they have brew shop and a vey positive aditude toward the homebrewer and thus very very reasonable prices... find your closest micro brewery and see if they have the same policy... thats all i can advise, other then that you will just hve to come to terms with brewin for between 3-7 dallors a sixer... if your paying more then 60 bucks for a batch of ingreedants and bottles etc then you defiantly need to shop around

cheers
 

mkling

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If cost is all that is important, you can brew beer very, very cheaply. I just kegged a 5 gallon batch of beer that cost me $5.50!!! It was done as an experiment that I replicate every 4 or 5 years -- brew a light American style lager made all grain that tastes far better than mass produced beers. It also is my test of the "cleanness" of my brewing. If there's any funk going on, I'll be able to taste it in this beer.

The recipe was simple -- 5 lbs American 2 row ($4.25 from MidWest Supplies -- 1/2 of a 10lb bag) and 3/4 oz Cascade boil and 1/4 oz Cascade (finish) ($1.25 -- 1/8th of a $10 8oz purchase made on eBay). Yeast was harvested so it was basically free. Now, there was some shipping on the grain, so if I add $2 (just a guess for this portion of a larger order) it might be a $7.50 batch of highly drinkable beer.

1.032 OG, 1.006 F.G for 3.5% ABV (remarkable good 87% efficiency). It's light and crisp and tasty for a light lager -- which of course isn't my favorite style beer, but has turned out great!

If I really wanted to make a great session beer, I could do it with 7.5lbs grain ($6.50) and an extra oz of Columbus hops (also purchased on eBay, same price -- use Cascade for finishing & dry hopping) ($2.50). Again, harvest yeast, and I've got a beer that's sitting around 1.040 for $9. Add shipping on the grain and it's probably $12.

Mostly I don't do this, though. I brew for fun, enjoyment & challenge and don't worry about the cost a ton. But if you want to go cheap, it is very easy to do.
 
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