ROI on going to bulk grain and hops

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Belmont

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Has anyone done the math on this recently? I typically buy two beers online and have them shipped milled with just the hops and yeast I need for that beer. I've been thinking about buying my grain and hops in bulk but realize there is going to be some upfront cost to get there. To buy the grain in bulk I'll need a mill and a scale to measure lbs of grain. For hops I'll need a scale that can measure to fractions of ounces(probably should have this already but I usually eyeball it). I haven't looked into the equipment much so I don't know the best items to get and how much they'd cost. Just trying to figure out how much it would cost me to start buying in bulk and how many batches it would take to make up that cost.
 

springer

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Barley crusher $158 delivered to my door. $15.99 for a digital food scale from Bed Bath and Beyond only goes to 10 lbs but it does oz in fractions too
 

humann_brewing

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Grain and hops are roughly about 1/2 the price as buying by the pound (grain) or oz (hops) when buying in bulk at least say a 50lb sack of grain and 1lb packs of hops.

The ROI will take a little while depending on how often you brew and what equipment you bought but the other benefit is that you always have supply and can do impromptu brews and plan things ahead so you don't run out of beer.
 

jajabee

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I'm about to switch to a bulk base malt, still gonna buy the specialties and adjuncts at the LHBS. Don't want to spend $150 on a barley crusher, though, so I'll be heading out to Michael's today to pick up a $15 pasta machine and then modify it to crush grain according to the instructions in the DIY thread here. Haven't figured out what to do for a scale yet... already have a 1lb kitchen scale, and there's the bathroom scale.... but I have reason to believe the bathroom scale is an evil innaccurate SOB, so maybe a 10lb scale is in order. :)
 

mmb

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You won't save money. Extract is expensive and it's nice to have the All grain is cheaper, look at my per batch price" chestnut to toss out there when you get questioned buy the Budget Officer, but I've more than made up my savings with equipment spending. And it's no where near done. *drool* Brutus RIMS *drool*

If you want you can go as cheap as possible with 5 gallon buckets for lautering ala Poppa Charlie and convert a pasta roller to a grain mill. Just don't hang around here because you'll get the itch to upgrade. :D
 

mmb

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Oh, and I buy specialty grains to store so that I can use my bulk grain anytime I want. I'm upwards of 20+ specialty grains in 5 lb rubbermaid containers and buy a pound of whatever I find interesting at the LHBS when I'm in town. With the three basemalts I have on hand right now, I can brew whenever I want, pretty much whatever I want. Yeast is a holdup, but as long as I can use US-05, S-04, nottingham, or S-23 I'm good to go. I'll have to start making starter worts and grow up a yeast bank so I have my favorite Belgium yeast (WLP550) on hand whenever as well.

See... it's a never ending cycle of WANT, BUY, HAVE. RUN before it's too LATE!

:D
 

BierMuncher

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This is my grain scale. Less than $20 at Target.

I removed the tin pan and set a five gallon bucket on it. Tare it to zero and I'm ready to scoop in 6 pound increments.

BassAleGrains.JPG

Your bulk savings will really depend on whether you simply order in bulk from a retailer, or get involved in a true, group bulk buy.

Either way, you'll save money over individual recipe orders.

In addition, with bulk supplies at your fingertips, you can have a hankering for a certain beer style and be crushing/brewing by the end of the night.

Bulk_Order_1.jpg
 
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I figure I'll be saving about $11 per 5 gallon batch on average, given I usually use 2 oz hops and 12ish lbs of grain for 5 gallons.

I'm assuming I'm about 15 batches from paying for the barley crusher, which is the only additional expense I have.

my bulk hops arrived yesterday, my bulk grain will be picked up today. Mill should arrive any day now. I'm ----->:ban::ban:
 

humann_brewing

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I'm about to switch to a bulk base malt, still gonna buy the specialties and adjuncts at the LHBS. Don't want to spend $150 on a barley crusher, though, so I'll be heading out to Michael's today to pick up a $15 pasta machine and then modify it to crush grain according to the instructions in the DIY thread here. Haven't figured out what to do for a scale yet... already have a 1lb kitchen scale, and there's the bathroom scale.... but I have reason to believe the bathroom scale is an evil innaccurate SOB, so maybe a 10lb scale is in order. :)
This is what I have

DIGITAL 35 LB SHIPPING POSTAL SCALE POSTAGE LB SCALES W - eBay (item 320357841003 end time May-07-09 08:27:05 PDT)

It is accurate enough for grain, but not for small hop amounts but could be if really needed.
 

Beerrific

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I have done the math and at the rate that I brew I know that to make up the cost of the Barley Crusher it would take about 1.5 years. Seeing how the BC has a lifetime warranty, that was a no-brainer investment.

To make up the cost of scale is much easier, probably the equivalent of 1 lb. of hops. I use the same scale for grain too (up to 4 lbs at a time) and we use it for food a lot too, really it is an essential kitchen tool.
 
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Figure in the cost of grain storage bins as well. Although not expensive relative to a BC, figure in several smaller ones for specialty grains and a couple large one for base grains. The price will add up. I've been looking at airtight bins, at least an ingredients kit worth of money.
 

dragon99

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ROI ??!?

Beer is the best return on investment. I've given up trying to justify the expense to my wife. Upgrade-itis is a lifelong ailment that will prevent me from ever returning more on my investment than the sweet, sweet malty wort that runs out of the pot and the end of a boil...
 
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Belmont

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I have done the math and at the rate that I brew I know that to make up the cost of the Barley Crusher it would take about 1.5 years. Seeing how the BC has a lifetime warranty, that was a no-brainer investment.

To make up the cost of scale is much easier, probably the equivalent of 1 lb. of hops. I use the same scale for grain too (up to 4 lbs at a time) and we use it for food a lot too, really it is an essential kitchen tool.
How many batches? I don't know how often you brew.
 
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Belmont

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Figure in the cost of grain storage bins as well. Although not expensive relative to a BC, figure in several smaller ones for specialty grains and a couple large one for base grains. The price will add up. I've been looking at airtight bins, at least an ingredients kit worth of money.
Good point on storage. So I wasn't even thinking about the inconvenience of more storage. I am currently remodeling my sunroom into a brewpub and am already a bit worried about storage. Should have planned for bigger bar/cook area. If I limit to the base grains and hops I could save a good bit and it wouldn't take up as much space. Sounds like a cabinet is going to be added as a future remodel in this room.
 

Beerrific

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How many batches? I don't know how often you brew.
$1.35/lb homebrew shop
$0.59/lb Bulk from NCM

$0.76 difference

Barley Crusher: $132 shipped

132/.76=173.7 lbs to make up cost

Average batch 12lbs....15.5 batches

I have been brewing more this year, so I might have already passed this mark. The key is the bulk price from North Country Malt on a group buy.
 

fratermus

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Figure in the cost of grain storage bins as well. Although not expensive relative to a BC, figure in several smaller ones for specialty grains and a couple large one for base grains. The price will add up. I've been looking at airtight bins, at least an ingredients kit worth of money.
One could use foodgrade buckets from the local supermarket (free, must wash). I've got a couple hundred pounds of grain stored in (stackable!) buckets, lined with heavy scentless trash bags. Easy to store, easy to move, easy to mark with contents.
 

brown_dog_us

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My set up is ultra cheap because for some reason I enjoy making beer for pennies. I'll drop $500 on a golf club, but I'm tight with the brewing.

I crush with a pasta mill that I found under the stove. It was free since neither my wife or I knew how we got it. I mash in a cooler set up that cost me about $45 and I buy my grains in bulk for $.59 a lb. I zip tie the bags closed and store them in plastic tubs with lids that I had laying around or in my keggle. I also keep a rodent trap loaded near by. I've never had a problem, but I want an early detection system.

Basically if you can get in on a group buys, then it's a no brainer.
 

thedude123

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I brew because I enjoy brewing and don't really care about how much money I have to spend on equipment.

I buy bulk grain and hops because it is easier and it kills me to pay a $1.75 a pound for grain and 3 or 4 dollars an ounce for hops.
 

john from dc

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my time's worth way more to me than any incremental difference in price.

now that i buy in bulk i make maybe 1/4 the trips to the homebrew shop i used to, and it's maybe a 40 minute drive away. i'd rather spend the time brewing.

i know, i could just order stuff online but my delivery options aren't great (get stuff delivered to office or let it sit outside in dc all day til i get home.)
 

TwoHeadsBrewing

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It all depends on how much you brew. If you only brew 6 times a year it's not worth it...it would take you several years to cover the cost of a crusher and scale. However, if you brew 10 gallon batches 1-2 times per month that adds up really fast.

I spent about $200 getting to where I could do 10 gallon batches and crush my own grain.

LHBS 10 gallon pale ale recipe: $38
Crush your own pale ale recipe: $25
Difference: $13

Number of brews to break even: 15 (less if using a larger grain bill)

For me, I brew around once a month but for a while I was building up stock and brewed 10g batches twice a month. At this rate, after about one year you'd make your money back. After that point, it's money in your pocket, and a barley crusher and scale will last you several years, if not a lifetime. But for me, it's more about being able to brew whenever the hell I want. If I've got a free evening and I'm stocked on grain, hops, and yeast...I'm brewing! No trip to the LHBS or waiting for a delivery from FedEx...just brew eeet!
 

jpc

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I now have three 55# sacks of grain sitting in my kitchen (Fawcett Maris Otter, Fawcett Golden Promise, Dingemans Pilsen), soon to be four (adding Weyermann Organic Wheat). I also have four pounds of various hops on the way. I figure that once I capitalize the storage systems (still in the "WTF do I do with 220# of grain" phase), I'll be break-even within a year (I plan at least 30 brews a year). The best part is that is saves me the once-a-week 20 mile round-trip to the LHBS... that's a few bucks a week savings right there.

A lot will depend on what you brew. When I first started 16+ years ago (extract with specialty grains), I don't think I ever brewed the same beer twice. That makes it hard to stockpile ingredients, since Murphy's (stout) Law says that you'll always need what you don't have. Now, I've moved on to all-grain and have been doing the same general recipes for my "house ales" with minor tweaks in an attempt to learn the process and experiment by trying to control variables; as such, I use mostly the same malts over and over. It makes sense for me to do this now, while even if I was doing AG before, it wouldn't have.

The bottom line, though... I'm not in this to "save money"... like other hobbies, homebrewing is a sinkhole for mah monneys. My advice... do it because you want to!
 

Tlylebrew

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A bit different question but kinda the same about ROI..

What is the additional time requirement going to AG? I can brew a kit and have it in the fermenter in about 2.5- 3 hours.
From start to finish how much longer does AG take?
 

remilard

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A bit different question but kinda the same about ROI..

What is the additional time requirement going to AG? I can brew a kit and have it in the fermenter in about 2.5- 3 hours.
From start to finish how much longer does AG take?
Once you have your process down, figure 4-6 hours depending*. Lots of downtime though so if you have a lawn that needs mowed or some DVDs to watch or anything else to do around the house, maybe half that time is actually spent doing anything brewing related.

* Depending on your process and recipe. Single infusion batch sparge or BIAB with a 60 minute boil is closer to 4, fly sparging with a multi rest mash and 90 minute boil closer to 6.
 

bad coffee

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i'm putting together a bulk grain buy right now. I'm also buying a decent mill and motorizing it.

LHBS: 10# of grain for $15. Add in the borrowed car, ($10 gas) $10 tolls to get to the store and back, and the 4 hour round trip, and suddenly that 10# of grain is up to around $35. Sure, I buy other things when I go, but they don't have big bags of grain (sometimes they have 2-row for $69.99) and everything is a bit more expensive. Hops are $4 an ounce. I"m getting them with the group buy for $22 a pound. I have the room to store the stuff, so why not.

The above reasons are also why I'm making a yeast farm. Is it cheaper right now? NO WAY, JOSE. But since I hope to be brewing for years, realizing I'm spending the money up front to make brewing easier in the future is okay.

besides. Isn't a new barley crusher just a new toy anyhow?

B
 

bendavanza

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Don't forget that if you crush your own your potential efficiency jump is a cost savings, too.
 

bottle-o-jeff

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I've worked out that I'll be saving ~$8 per 5 gal batch in increased efficiency and reduced grain cost. It's not much, but it adds up. It really depends on how often you brew as to how fast it'll pay for itself.

That said, I didn't buy my Barley Crusher to pay for itself. I bought it for the fun of crushing my own grain.
 
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