Quantcast

I am poor.

HomeBrewTalk.com - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Community.

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

xtrace

New Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2009
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
I want to start making my own beer on a poor mans budget. I can try
free cycle for the buckets and a few other things, but It will be my first
time brewing. What do I need, bare min to get started. What price range
am I looking at.
 

PintOfBitter

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2007
Messages
1,150
Reaction score
12
Location
USA
bare minimum: (assuming 5 gallon batches, which is just the most common)

3 gallon pot (enameled is cheapest, just be careful not to bang it around)
malt extract (some is pre-hopped)
yeast (dry is cheap)
hops (if the extract is not hopped)
Fermentation vessel - anything big enough to hold the fermenting beer, plus some headspace to keep it from foaming over

anything on top of this will just add quality to the beer or ease to the process.
 
OP
X

xtrace

New Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2009
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
where can I get step by step instructions on how to do it.
 

aidanpryde18

Active Member
Joined
Mar 4, 2009
Messages
25
Reaction score
0
How to Brew - By John Palmer is a great site with general brewing information. Just trade out your cheaper equipment with the equipment that they show on the site.

Also, look into the Mr. Beer kit. You can get it at Amazon for 40 bucks + shipping. It will make 2 gallon batches, and they sell a large assortment of different styles in easy-to-use kits.

Check out the sticky at the top for some help in using the kit effectively.
 

HoppyDaze

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Dec 10, 2008
Messages
13,867
Reaction score
4,267
Location
Lake Oswego
OK...drunk guy chiming in

Home Depot 5 gallon bucket at the front of the store; they are dirt cheap. This/these will be your primary, and if you get two, and your secondary fermenters. Those are the vessels that make beer so to me they are the most necessary and most awesome. In order for the fermenters to valuable in any sense, you must brew some beer. The kettle I would recommend is the "camping" black, white spotted (I don't don't know what the hell it is made of) 16 qt (four gallon) kettle. I believe I paid $14 for mine at Target.

A damn bottling bucket from the LHBS MUST HAVE! $12

auto siphon ...$15

tubing and bottling wand $15

stoppers and airlocks $7

Bottles (drink/work) free

Hydrometer $6

thick skin to take the **** from your girl who wonders why you make make beer when you can just buy it at store.

She'll eat those words after you make her some good homebrew...

Fermenters and lids (Home Depot) - recommended: find a carboy or better bottle for few more bucks) $0-5
Kettle $14
Bottling Bucket $12
Tubing and bottling wand $15
Stoppers and Airlocks $7
Hydrometer $6 (as important as all the rest)

Total Bill: $59

with the upgraded fermenters $85 (recommended)
 

eljefebrewing

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2009
Messages
97
Reaction score
2
I just got my starter setup from williamsbrewing.com. $85 + $6.40 shipping. $91.40 is pretty good, I think. Has siphonless (spigot) primary, plus bottling bucket, hydrometer, capper, caps, sanitizer, tubing, airlock, thermometer, bottle brush, brew spoon... pretty much everything but the kettle and bottles! Didn't come with a bottling wand, but has a short piece of hose to connect to the spigot. Also comes with DVD and book. Pretty good deal, I think!
 

llazy_llama

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2009
Messages
2,832
Reaction score
92
Location
Rapid City, South Dakota
No one mentioned bottle caps and a capper, so here's the poor man solution to that: use soda bottles with the screw on caps. They work, just don't use rootbeer bottles. You can never get the rootbeer flavor out.

Knock off the stopper/airlock from CPAle's post. Use tinfoil, loosely placed over your fermenter, and pressed down to seal. It doesn't have to be air tight, nor should it be.

You could get away without a hydrometer if you have the patience of a saint. If not, you want a hydrometer and a turkey baster to take samples. Keep in mind that this is about 2 steps below absolute bare bones as far as I'm concerned. I make crap money, the wife is unemployed, and I still wouldn't brew with this setup.

Assuming you already have a stainless steel, aluminum, or enamel stock pot and a spoon or whisk to stir, just shell out the $60 and buy a kit. Basic :: Midwest Supplies Homebrewing and Winemaking Supplies
 

llazy_llama

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2009
Messages
2,832
Reaction score
92
Location
Rapid City, South Dakota
I figured someone would say that. ;) Follow the link I posted.

One-step might have been downgraded by the FDA, but it's still pretty much a sanitizer.
 

ruffdeezy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2009
Messages
370
Reaction score
5
Location
New West, BC
I started homebrewing because I wanted to make beer for a lot cheaper than what I buy it at the store for. 2 months in, 500 bucks later, I'm totally hooked. I'm not really concerned about the cheaper part now, I just wanna make some good beer and have fun doing it.

But, most stores have good starter kits for about 60-75 bucks, coopers kits are like 15 bucks, get free bottles from a bar or whatever. You should be able to brew your first batch for $100. After that, it gets a lot cheaper unless you really get hooked. But it is still much cheaper in the long run.
 

llazy_llama

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2009
Messages
2,832
Reaction score
92
Location
Rapid City, South Dakota
I started homebrewing because I wanted to make beer for a lot cheaper than what I buy it at the store for. 2 months in, 500 bucks later, I'm totally hooked. I'm not really concerned about the cheaper part now, I just wanna make some good beer and have fun doing it.

But, most stores have good starter kits for about 60-75 bucks, coopers kits are like 15 bucks, get free bottles from a bar or whatever. You should be able to brew your first batch for $100. After that, it gets a lot cheaper unless you really get hooked. But it is still much cheaper in the long run.
Not really. Ingredients + replacing broken/damaged/obsolete equipment + cleaners and sanitizers + upgrading to AG + upgrading to kegging + the occasional ruined batch + registering custom RDWHAHB license plates + everything else...

It's an addiction, not a hobby. If you're getting to it to save money, good for you. You'll learn the truth soon enough.
 

EvilTOJ

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2005
Messages
6,395
Reaction score
64
Location
Portland, OR
Let's see if I can make this as cheap as possible. I'm talkin making Lincoln scream from the pinching! Now keep in mind, this isn't the best equipment, nor the easiest to obtain, I'm only speaking about just the cheapest gear possible.

Get some free buckets off freecycle, craigslist or the bakery dept at the grocery store for fermenters.

3/8" ID Vinyl tubing from Home Depot get 20 ft @ 36¢ a foot $7.20

Buy a bottling spigot, drill a hole near the bottom of one of your buckets, voila, bottling bucket. Cut off a 1 foot section from your roll of tubing for the bottling wand. $3

For the airlock on the fermenters, cut a 4' slice off your roll of tubing, and drill a hole in the lid near the side. Jam one end of the tubing into the hole, the other end into a gallon jug full of water. Tilt the bucket so the end with the hole is towards the top, it'll give you a bit more headspace.

Plain ol siphon $5

Bottles - free from recycling and other people's castoffs. 20 oz soda bottles are great for portion control.

Hydrometer? Bah! Just let the beer sit in the fermenter for 3 weeks then bottle.

Why buy new when used is just as good? 5 gallon enamel canning pot from Goodwill $5

Sanitation - bottle of bleach is $1 at dollar tree. Use one tablespoon per 5 gallons of water.

Total: $21.20

Everything else after that depends on if you already have it in your kitchen or not. You probably already have a ladle/spatula for stirring the wort. Make ice in the freezer and use an ice bath to cool it off plus topup water kept in the fridge so it's nice and cold. A $7 thermometer would be nice, but if you're doing extract and steeping grains using water from your water heater turned up all the way hot will work just fine for steeping, heat it maybe 10 minutes then turn off the burner.

You can't get around ingredients though, those *should* be quality. Otherwise you may as well just ferment sugar water and bread yeast :drunk:

Did I miss anything?
 

Malticulous

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 27, 2008
Messages
4,144
Reaction score
80
Location
St. George Utah
If you can hook up with some local brewers they could be of some help. They might have some extras and know where to find things cheap. They might even let you barrow.
 

Dotneck

Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2009
Messages
19
Reaction score
0
Home Depot 5 gallon bucket at the front of the store; they are dirt cheap.
Fermenters and lids (Home Depot) - recommended: find a carboy or better
do the home depot buckets have lids? Wonder if they have them at Lowes (thats a lot closer than Home depot...).

I'd hate to just go in and look around...I might end up buying a drill or a saw that I'll never use....

:D
 

beerocd

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2008
Messages
696
Reaction score
5
Not really. Ingredients + replacing broken/damaged/obsolete equipment + cleaners and sanitizers + upgrading to AG + upgrading to kegging + the occasional ruined batch + registering custom RDWHAHB license plates + everything else...

It's an addiction, not a hobby. If you're getting to it to save money, good for you. You'll learn the truth soon enough.
How about separating the beer from the hobby(addiction)? The beer can be cheaper if you compare like beers (ie brew the style you are comparing to), the hobby like all other hobbies can be a money pit if you let it. Still cheaper than restoring a classic car, in which case you need to buy beer to drink while you are active in your hobby. I don't factor in the cost of my grill when I have a steak either. :ban:

Beer is a perpetual hobby: drink beer while you make beer so you have beer to drink while you make beer so you'll have beer to drink while you're making beer....


-OCD
 

cheeseshark

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2008
Messages
163
Reaction score
3
Location
Westland, MI
do the home depot buckets have lids? Wonder if they have them at Lowes (thats a lot closer than Home depot...).

I'd hate to just go in and look around...I might end up buying a drill or a saw that I'll never use....

:D
No, the home depot buckets do not have lids. Like a few other people said, best bet is to go into a restaurant, cake store, or some other place that gets food items in 5 gallon buckets. Ask nicely and you can get a few buckets with lids for free.
 

Jeffro

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2007
Messages
187
Reaction score
6
Location
Auburn, WA
IMHO....Home brewing to save money on beer makes about as much sense as buying a boat to save money on fish.
 

3bals

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2008
Messages
59
Reaction score
3
Location
Minnesota
I agree. Until you find a recipe for a brew or two that you really like, then you can buy the ingedients in bulk and possibly save some money, excluding the cost of any equipment and supplies.
 

brian_g

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2009
Messages
368
Reaction score
1
Expect your first 5 batch to be about $100. There are plenty of home brew stores that will sell you everything you need.

If that's too much you can try a Mr. beer kit. The problem I have with mr beer is that it's a smaller batch size. (2.5 gals I think) just about everything else for home brewers is designed around a 5 gallon batch size. This includes the ingredient kits like coopers or brewer's best, but also just about every recipe is design for a 5 gal batch size.


But lets say that mr beer is too expensive. Can it be done cheaper? Hmmm. This is a tough one. What if someone wanted to brew just one bottle of beer? Can it be done? I think this may be an interesting challenge. It wouldn't be worth it for only one bottle, but it would allow someone to try brewing without spending a lot of money. Maybe I'll take up the challenge and document my results on my blog. Here's a quick recipe:

2 oz two-row
1oz crystal 80L

0.25 oz saaz 3.5 AA 5 min boil
This should be 4.5 ABV and 21 IBUs.

put grains in grain bag and seep for 60 minutes at 150F in 1 cup of water. rinse grain bag with a 1/2 cup of water at 150 F Remove grains. Bring to boil. Put hops in grain bag and boil hops for 5 minutes. Remove hops. Allow wort to cool. Add yeast. Use balloon with pin hole for airlock.


Could this work? What would it cost?
$0.50 grains
$3.00 hops I'm assuming that you have to buy 1 oz min.
$0.80 two grain bags
$1.00 bag of balloons
total: $5.30

The main problem I see is you have no way to cap the bottle unless you buy a capper. Perhaps the recipe could be adjusted for a 2L pop bottle.
 

Jeffro

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2007
Messages
187
Reaction score
6
Location
Auburn, WA
Could this work? What would it cost?
$0.50 grains
$3.00 hops I'm assuming that you have to buy 1 oz min.
$0.80 two grain bags
$1.00 bag of balloons
total: $5.30

The main problem I see is you have no way to cap the bottle unless you buy a capper. Perhaps the recipe could be adjusted for a 2L pop bottle.
You left off 2 major considerations...

Yeast... And carbonation.

I suppose you could just drop in a couple of grains of yeast from a packet of notty, and use Coopers carbonation drops.
 

eljefe

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 6, 2008
Messages
460
Reaction score
9
Location
Pittsburgh
I agree with those before me that if you want great beer, you will never, ever save money brewing your own. It is truly an addiction.

If you just want to brew beer for the sake of having something in the fridge, you should be fine.

Did you look at Mr Beer? Not sure of quality or cost but it could be a good alternative.
 

brian_g

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2009
Messages
368
Reaction score
1
You left off 2 major considerations...

Yeast... And carbonation.

I suppose you could just drop in a couple of grains of yeast from a packet of notty, and use Coopers carbonation drops.
ok so new total
$1.30 yeast
$1.00 priming sugar
total $7.6

This is getting to be an expensive bottle of beer. You could probably just prime with table sugar. 3/4 tsp to a bottle. I've never used table sugar for priming, but I sometimes add the sugar to the directly to the bottles and it works just fine. ("Bottling buckets" are too easy to use as fermenters, leaving me without bottling bucket.)
 

Patton191

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 24, 2008
Messages
130
Reaction score
0
I don't think this is prison hooch. Most people are talking about using quality ingredients. I think hooch constitutes terrible ingredients. I think this thread is good, because it gives people new ideas to keep the equipment etc.

If you are in search of buckets, I went to a doughnut shop and got two 4 1/4 gallon buckets and used trash bags as airlocks with rubberbands around them. I did use quality ingredients though.
 

Figbash

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 26, 2008
Messages
216
Reaction score
1
Location
Michigan
I agree with those before me that if you want great beer, you will never, ever save money brewing your own. It is truly an addiction.
Not for me.

I grow my own hops and culture my own yeast. My last five gallon batch of ale (extract) cost me six pounds of DME and a cup of priming sugar, or about $22. That's cheaper than Budweiser. I'll be going all grain this summer and expect to cut that figure in half. Beer is 94% water, it should be cheap.

Tom
 

vfinch

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 1, 2008
Messages
276
Reaction score
2
Location
Victoria BC, Canada
Speaking of cheap I was in one of my LHBSs and chatting with the owner and he was telling me about one of his customers. The guy would buy a sack of grain, a sack of sugar and just enough hops to still call it beer. Supposedly he had it down to about 6cents a bottle.
 
Joined
Oct 20, 2005
Messages
7,733
Reaction score
74
Location
Nanaimo, BC
IMHO....Home brewing to save money on beer makes about as much sense as buying a boat to save money on fish.
Unless you live in Canada, especially BC, where an 18 pack of Canadian (BMC) costs you over $30.

That said, getting into it at first to save some money is one thing, but many get more involved in the hobby, often in an attempt to make better beers and try new interesting (an hard to find) styles.

In these wacko financial times, there are ways you can accomplish the great beer making goal on a budget. You don't need a PID controlled rims/herms system to do that. Some of us just like too!

I just bought a march pump (impatiently awaiting it's arrival) and upgraded my 3 tier. Thought I'd spend that money before the crappy economy kills my income, cause at least that way it's all ready for beer making and all I have to do is have money for grains and propane. I am growing hops (2nd year - woot!) and have almost 15 lbs of pellets in the freezer. :D

OP, get into AG, find a source for grains that can get you near wholesale prices. Buying 25lbs of base malt really helps.
If not AG then find a source for extract that will sell you extract by the liter. Hops used to be cheap; no longer. But if there is a micro or brewpub or ubrew, see if they will sell you some. Should be cheaper.
 

brian_g

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2009
Messages
368
Reaction score
1
The original poster asked about starting homebrewing on a budget. This doesn't necessarily mean that he wants cheap beer. It could mean that he is interested in the hobby, but doesn't (or can't) spend a lot of money to get started. If someone only likes cheap beer, then I'd say stay away from homebrew. Just drink American light beer instead. However, if someone is interested in learning the process of how beer is made and likes craft and microbrews, then homebrewing is a great hobby. Can you get started learning the process for less. Yes, but the trade off is a higher per bottle price. All grain batches can be made for a pretty low per bottle cost (less then 40 cents), but there is more initial equipment to buy making the start-up cost greater. Mr. beer kits run about 80 cents per bottle, but only requiring a $40 startup cost.
 

oswiu

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2008
Messages
91
Reaction score
3
Location
Wellington, NZ
I'm really thrifty (a nice way of saying cheap :) ) myself, and recently moved to New Zealand and had to build my brewing setup from scratch.
Thus, I can offer a few suggestions on how to get started and make beer inexpensively. These apply especially well to NZ where suppliers are limited and equipment is generally more expensive, but I'm sure they'll help in North America too:

1. Look for second hand equipment. I got a beautiful 32L stainless steel pot for NZ$60 (about US$35) on the NZ ebay equivalent.
2. Try Brew-in-a-bag. It lets you get into the cost savings of all-grain quickly and easily. Some curtain material and sewing is cheaper than a cooler mash tun and fittings.
3. Try to get fermenters for free from restaurants or bulk food stores. I've got a 25L and three 20L HDPE containers for free from my local organic food shop.
4. Buy goods in bulk. It gives you economies of scale and saves on shipping.
5. Use yeast, especially liquid yeast, more than once. Plan your brewing to allow this. Arrange two or three brews to go from low to medium to high gravity, all using the same yeast.
6. Don't buy new bottles. Bottle in re-used plastic or glass bottles. I get all my 1.5L brown PET bottles out of other people's bins on recycling day.
7. If you're planning on using an immersion chiller, try to find the copper from a scrap metal recycler. I got the 23' of 1/2" tubing that's in my chiller for the equivalent of $US12 from a scrap dealer.

Using these tips I've built a setup that lets me do three or four simultaneous 20L all-grain batches for an initial outlay of <US$120.
This includes kettle, bag, digital thermometer, hydrometer, fermenters, airlocks, bottles, chiller, bottling and racking equipment and a digital scale (I do boils on my BBQ, though North American style BBQs probably wouldn't work so well for this.)

Ordering base malt in 25kg bags means that I can use this setup to make (say) a 20L batch of a nice Hefe for <US$12 (plus the cost of gas) or a big 7.2%, 90IBU IPA for <$US20.

While it may just be possible to buy beer for less than this (especially in the US) it's certainly not cheaper to buy GOOD beer for less.
 

rico567

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2008
Messages
3,016
Reaction score
97
Location
Central IL
The OP isn't very specific- except that the beer be cheap. I think -whatever I may be doing now, or whatever my personal opinions on what constitutes homebrew- that I'll stick with that.

Once upon a time, in the Dark Ages before the current homebrew revolution....it was 1970. My uncle gave me my maternal grandpa's old Prohibition-era bottle capper and a hydrometer, proof meter & some other items, and suggested I homebrew some beer. Since I was just starting work as a public school teacher, this seemed attractive.
To what I was given, I added a big green plastic wastebasket, a couple of empty cases of PBR bottles, some surgical tubing and hops from the drugstore, caps from the hardware store, and Blue Ribbon malt syrup, 5 pound bags of sugar & Budweiser yeast (from the bakery) at the grocery store.
I couldn't tell you the recipe, except that I boiled the extract, sugar & hops on the stove (don't remember how long), cooled the pot in the sink, pitched into the plastic wastebasket and threw a wet towel over the top. When fermentation appeared to stop I'd float the hydrometer in there to check, then bottle. I used a tiny spoon to put sugar right into the bottle necks. I doubt that the fermentation was ever very complete, since there was plenty of carbonation from only about 1/4 t. of sugar. Everything was cleaned, but there was NO sanitizing whatever from our contemporary good homebrewing practice. The amazing thing was that I don't recall ever having an "off" batch.
The result? I could drink it, after I became accustomed to it. No other family member would touch it. Pretty malty, with an edge. Given the quality of the product, though, and the lack of good information or supplies, I quit after about a year and only started homebrewing again in Fall '07.....and I've still got that old Prohibition-era capper, use it on every batch.

The moral? You can brew very, very cheaply. The question is: what do you want?
 

Ballistic

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2008
Messages
116
Reaction score
0
Location
England
There can be all manner of reasons to begin homebrewing or a combination of things and price may be one of them;

The UK government including Scotland, Wales and NI are proposing to introduce a minimum cost for alcohol to try to stem the schenes we see on TV of young people on street corners swigging Diamond White.

I for one am expanding my operation in light of this.
 

bsruther

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2009
Messages
106
Reaction score
1
Location
Northern Kentucky
I'm not on a tight budget but, I always try to cut costs with personal obsessions. I'd planned on going all grain from the start but, I don't have all of my equipment yet. Besides the cost of my equipment ($120) My first three partial extract brews cost me about $26 each. That's cheaper than two cases of Bud. I don't have expensive tastes in beer, nor am I out to impress anyone. I just want to brew decent beer and save money...and I will. My plan is to get two or three all grain recipes that I like and stick with them.
I just planted my first Hops Rhizome this past weekend so If I can get them to grow, that will be one major expense out of the way.
 

lordbeermestrength

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 9, 2008
Messages
286
Reaction score
3
Location
&#9729;Scappoose, OR&#9730;
You guys are NERDS!!

The OP asked such a newb question that was so vauge, any other self respecting forum would have sent him home packing. You guys answered all of his questions and kept on answering them 'til they were beaten black and blue!

Thats why I love this forum, people are here for the love of beer :) You'll go on dissecting the finer points of price comparisons of bottle cappers and sanitizers even when no one is listening. You all are the best:)
 

Gosassin

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2008
Messages
182
Reaction score
0
Location
Lawrenceville, GA
No, the home depot buckets do not have lids. Like a few other people said, best bet is to go into a restaurant, cake store, or some other place that gets food items in 5 gallon buckets. Ask nicely and you can get a few buckets with lids for free.

You can get lids for the orange buckets they sell; they're usually in the paint section and they keep them on a seperate shelf from the buckets. Just ask and HD employee, if you can find one. I have 2 or 3 of those buckets w/matching lids serving as bright tanks in my garage. They work like a charm, and could easily be converted into primaries or bottling buckets.
 
Top