Secrets, shortcuts, and other money saving tips

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rivertranced

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This hobby is expensive! I'm amazed when I look in my brew closet and see all of the gear I've amassed over the past 5 years. And I've only begun to scratch the tip of the iceberg...at any given time I can think of at least 3 new pieces of equipment I wont after for my brewery.

But, in the middle of my shameless consumerism, I also love to find ways around the expensive means to get to a specific end. I love hearing tips from brewers on techniques they've adapted to make their brewing easier - without spending a fortune (and I've found a lot of them here). So I thought I'd start a thread where people could share some of these tricks with the community.

For example, take the "washing machine stir plate". I began using starters about a year ago, but didn't want to drop the dough on a stir plate right away. Soon after, I realized that if I saved laundry day for starter day, I could get a few hours worth of shaking by moving it from my washer to my dryer over a few loads. With some interspersed hand shaking, I've found I can grow a lot of yeast using this method! :D

I'd love to hear some of your ideas for saving money, time, or resources in your brewery!
 

Butter

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Buy your vinyl hose in bulk.
Use spent grain to make dog biscuits or compost it.
Save the hot water coming out of your immersion chiller to clean your equipment after the brew day is done.
That's all I can think of right now.
 

sendkyleanemail

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Ingredients in bulk, group buys.

Use RO water for Star San and reuse.

Harvest and re us yeast.

Make starter wort, no DME.

Use electricity or natural gas stove to heat strike and sparge water, instead of propane.

Use spent grains for baking or dog treats.

ALUMINUM kettle lol
 

Apendecto

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Hops direct.

Make as much of your equipment as you can. Buy used what you can't.
 

Grizz

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When I make a 5 gal kit I'll sometimes stretch it to 7 gallons, add a tad more hops and it comes out good. I've made a arogant bastard clone to 13 gallons and all came out good!
 

Calder

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I don't think it is particularly expensive. I keep an account of just about everything I spend on brewing, equipment and ingredients). Over the past 3 years I've made about 5000 bottles (with an average abv over 6%), and it works out to an average of 50 cents a bottle, and I think some of my beers could stand up against some of the best craft beers there are out there.

Now ..... if you were to put a cost on the amount of time I spend making/tending/creating, it would be a lot cheaper buying it. But where is the fun in that.
 

wegz15

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I make yeast slants and my wife makes bread from the spent grains. Also buy in bulk. Get bottles from friends.
 

Seven

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Buy grain and hops in bulk. Harvest and re-use yeast. Electric brewing will cost more up front but will save over time compared to propane.
 

Mongrel

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Electric brewing will cost more up front but will save over time compared to propane.
Maybe if you're using the Blue Rhino exchanges, but at less than $3 in propane per batch, it's going to take a long time to justify the upgrade to electric, and by the time it paid off, I'd have spent even more on upgrading the electric system.

But yeah, bulk grain, bulk hops, and reusing yeast will all save money.
 

LuxAeterna

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Buy grain and hops in bulk.
Hops direct.
I've ordered hops from hops direct and it has worked wonderfully, but I've never ordered grains online. I'm interested, but I've got a number of questions. Any suggestions for good websites to order bulk online? Can I store them in a closet at room temperature, and if so for how long? Also, do I need my own barley crusher if I want to order bulk online?
 

Stand

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I think having the grain cracked would make it not last as long? Not sure, but I'd think so. Barley crusher my next investment.
 

BBL_Brewer

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Make up smaller amounts of sanitizer than the bottle gives directions for. Same thing for cleaners like PBW. Grow your own hops, even if it's only a couple of your favorite varieties. Bulk grain is a must. Reuse as much yeast as can or grow your own and freeze it. Mash your starter wort and pressure can it instead of using DME. Turn the gas off to the keg when it starts getting low and use residual pressure to dispense the rest. If you have the means, use empty kegs to purge fresh ones.
 

daveooph131

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I get my propane filled for about 18 at my grocery store...seems somewhat reasonable.

Best way I have save money has been DIY projects. Thanks to hbt I've made my mash tun, and kegerator.
 
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I've blown a lot of money in my rush for instant gratification. One of the things I'm still learning is to shop around before buying, especially when buying from one of the majors like NorthernBrewer or MoreBeer. Look for retailers selling the same product for a lower price and look for lower priced alternatives of equivalent quality. For instance, the refractometer I purchased from MoreBeer for $60 is available from the manufacturer for $20. There's benefits to buying from the majors, they tend to weed out the garbage products, for instance, and I don't begrudge them they're markup but it's hard for me to justify paying three times the manufacturer's price especially when money is tight. You may not always be able to purchase a product directly from the manufacturer but it's worth trying to find out the name of the manufacturer or the product model before you purchase the product elsewhere.

I also think DIY is one of the best ways to save money, become deeply involved with your craft, and have fun while doing it. HBT is full of great DIY projects and I'm trying more and more to do it myself rather than buy it off the shelf.

I know much of this is just common sense but it's amazing how easily common sense goes out the window when that cool, new, brewing tool is staring you in the face. Thanks for starting the thread, rivertranced. I hope this helps someone save some money. Anybody want to buy a $60 refractometer? :eek:
 

broadbill

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I second GuldTuborg, "Avoid Blue Rhino like the plague." I bought a new, empty tank from Costco and then filled it up at a local gas station for under $20.
Or acquire BR tanks but fill them up yourself instead of exchanging. Go back for an exchange when the hydro inspection is up on the tank (technically, they shouldn't fill them anymore when it expires), the tank paint is chipping or rusty, or when the valve ever bust/seizes.
 

Brulosopher

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Stand said:
I think having the grain cracked would make it not last as long? Not sure, but I'd think so. Barley crusher my next investment.
Yes. Pre-milled grain really isn't suited for long term storage... maybe a month, max. Unmilled, if stored in an airtight container? Over a year, easy.

I buy everything bulk... and steal sh*t ;)
 

Brew_4iT

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Reuse dryhops for bittering future batches of brew. I've only done this once and it was with a light cream ale. I do have a bunch saved up in the freezer just in case, some of the AA is lost so it is hard to really guesstimate how much IBU's a beer will have. Major reason I haven't done this too often. I think it is really worth it if you dryhop with high AA hops like citra for instance.
 

Calichusetts

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Keep a log...of EVERYTHING you do during your brew

Buy in bulk...when you ask yourself "is this too much?" buy one size larger...

Drink a homebrew near flameout...when you finish and your wort is chilling, you can rinse out the bottle, fill it with sanitizer and use if for your blow-off container

Did I mention to keep a log?

Don't be afraid to shop around online for deals...we all have our favorite store or local shop, but if you can get a better deal, go for it, and buy in bulk. If your local shop does the old "haven't seen you in a while," explain you got a better deal and ask if there is anything they can do, great businesses with find a way to keep their customers

Always have an extra of any misc. part but necessary part for brewing (such as a thermometer)
 
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