What are your tips for keeping costs down

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NSMikeD

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save on CO2 consumption: purge kegs with fermentation CO2 and naturally carbonate by transferring with 1-2% residual extract and yeast in suspension.

save on yeast purchases: brew batches in runs, harvesting and using the same yeast over the series

save on grain: buy in bulk splitting batches with others to share the savings.

save on heat cost: use electricity vs propane.

save on equipment: BIAB, no sparge, no chill

save on water purchases: cobble together an RO filter system

save on water additions: use only gypsum and CaCl.

save on acid to adjust pH: hold off adding grains that screw with pH. Add them to hot steep for 30 min once main mash is complete.

save on hops: don’t brew NEIPA
I have to comment on the water suggestions. I have a RODI system for my reef tank so I have a good understanding of water chemistry and the advantages of making water from 0 TDS water, and the capability for making 5 gals in an hour with the turn of a spigot.

Here's my suggestion. If your water in drinkable, before investing in a filtration system, get a copy of your local municipality's water report. They tend to be updated regularly. If your water isn't hard, likely you can use your tap water with needing minimal additives. I created a local water profile in brewfather (most brewing software will have the same functionality) using the water report midpoints, and then the software will automatically calculate the additions to match the target water profile.

As for cost of epsom salt, calcium chloride, lactic acid, m, gypsum, my software rarely has me adding more the 2 ml or g of any one additives (double for 5 gal batches). I can't imagine these costs have any material affect one brewing budgets.

a piece of equipment that will save in the long run, a vacuum sealer (I replaced an old one with an inkbird model during one of their sales here and I find it performs very well). Items that are sold in quantities that aren't exactly what I need are specialty grains and hops which I can then vacuum seal and extend their life until I need them. Also, I use the sealer for my day to day food storage extending freezer and fridge life thus cutting down on my food bill.
 

IslandLizard

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As for cost of epsom salt, calcium chloride, lactic acid, m, gypsum, my software rarely has me adding more the 2 ml or g of any one additives (double for 5 gal batches). I can't imagine these costs have any material affect one brewing budgets.
Indeed, those costs are minimal.
If you're brewing often, buy a pound of each, not the silly 2 oz jars.* Then store those in plastic jars with well sealing screw lids, such as peanut butter, mayo jars, etc.
* Smaller 2-4 oz jars are actually quite handy in the brew room or brew box, so refill them from a larger container.

I discovered that adding 4 layers of plastic wrap (a square piece folded over twice) over the top of the jar, before screwing the lid on, creates an excellent seal.

Especially Epsom salt at your local drug store is/was 69 cents for a pound carton.
You want to be really frugal, Quick Joe (or generics) is 100% Calcium Chloride. Comes in 10# and 50# bags.
A 5, 10 or 50 pound bag of Gypsum at your hardware store is 100% gypsum, for only a few bucks. Some are even food quality, if that's important to you. The gypsum is also of the lower hydrate version, so you need less weight, and such a bag will last even longer...

Another "big saver" is buying Lactic Acid (88%) instead of the crazy overpriced 4-8 oz bottles with 10% Phosphoric Acid.
If you use much more acid, buy a pint or gallon of 85% Phosphoric acid from Duda Diesel, and split with some club members.
Then reduce some to a more manageable 10% working solution.
 

brewbama

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@NSMikeD while tap is certainly cheaper, admittedly, I have ulterior motives for using RO vs starting with tap.

I have very specific reasons to brew the way I do: Dr C Bamforth discusses metal ions, bottom-filling of vessels, using deaerated water for slurries, limit transfers, etc. as less important but additional steps that can be taken to reduce oxidation. I also incorporate information I received from Joe Formanek concerning a combination of oxygen reduction and ion removal as what he termed in his note “the best case scenario”. AJ DeLange and G Strong recommend CaCl and/or gypsum to build water from RO or distilled. J Palmer and G Strong discuss hot steep of dark grains. (Dark grains screw with mash pH therefore drive unwanted salt additions)

So, I remove nearly everything via RO filtration, deaerated it with bread yeast and table sugar, and add back only what I want (CaCl and/or gypsum) along with Brewtan B (heavy metal chelator) and Ascorbic Acid (antioxidant). The Ca reacts with grain husks to release phytic acid so, in combination with the AA and mashing only the grains that require it, my mash pH hits 5.2-5.4 with ease. I hold grains that don’t require mashing until the main mash (30 min 145°F for β-amylase + 45 min 158°F for α-amylase) is complete, then add them for a 30 min Vorlauf/Hot Steep/Lauter rest (167°F). I don’t sparge.

IOW, having my own RO filter is cheaper than buying distilled or RO water. I also don’t need a box full of salts to build water and I don’t need an irrelevant water report because I have TDS meters.
 
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NSMikeD

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@NSMikeD while tap is certainly cheaper, admittedly, I have ulterior motives for using RO vs starting with tap.

I have very specific reasons to brew the way I do: Dr C Bamforth discusses metal ions, bottom-filling of vessels, using deaerated water for slurries, limit transfers, etc. as less important but additional steps that can be taken to reduce oxidation. I also incorporate information I received from Joe Formanek concerning a combination of oxygen reduction and ion removal as what he termed in his note “the best case scenario”. AJ DeLange and G Strong recommend CaCl and/or gypsum to build water from RO or distilled. J Palmer and G Strong discuss hot steep of dark grains. (Dark grains screw with mash pH therefore drive unwanted salt additions)

So, I remove nearly everything via RO filtration, deaerated it with bread yeast and table sugar, and add back only what I want (CaCl and/or gypsum) along with Brewtan B (heavy metal chelator) and Ascorbic Acid (antioxidant). The Ca reacts with grain husks to release phytic acid so, in combination with the AA and mashing only the grains that require it, my mash pH hits 5.2-5.4 with ease. I hold grains that don’t require mashing until the main mash (30 min 140°F for β-amylase + 45 min 158°F for α-amylase) is complete, then add them for a 30 min Vorlauf/Hot Steep/Lauter rest (167°F). I don’t sparge.

IOW, having my own RO filter is cheaper than buying distilled or RO water. I also don’t need a box full of salts to build water and I don’t need an irrelevant water report because I have TDS meters.

no doubt but this thread is in the beginner brewing forum. My post was for the average noobie who may question using tap and wondering if they need to invest in an unnecessary filtration system or buying water when their tap may very well supply a profile a good base. Available water reports and most brewing software (including the one on this site) can enable the average brewer a simple way to determine if their tap can be used to make very good beer with a few grams or mls of additions.

PS. I do appreciate your post as the topic is one that interests me. I am an eBIAB brewer doing single step full volume mash, otherwise I can see myself taking the water chemistry and mashing to another level.
 
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no doubt but this thread is in the beginner brewing forum. My post was for the average noobie who may question using tap and wondering if they need to invest in an unnecessary filtration system or buying water when their tap may very well supply a profile a good base. Available water reports and most brewing software (including the one on this site) can enable the average brewer a simple way to determine if their tap can be used to make very good beer with a few grams or mls of additions.

PS. I do appreciate your post as the topic is one that interests me. I am an eBIAB brewer doing single step full volume mash, otherwise I can see myself taking the water chemistry and mashing to another level.
When I started simple, our water is pretty hard, so I only filtered for Chlorine and let the water be itself. As long as it was a dark beer or a Burton-style pale, it worked great. Otherwise, it wouldn't always hit style, but it was always beer. Now it's RO and mineral additions. Not simple, not cheap, but a real nice step up.
 
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