Won $500 from a business competition, what would you suggest we spend it on?

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Dec 17, 2020
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Unfortunately, we didn't win the grand prize, but we did win five hundred bucks. We're a group of seniors in college who had our plans ruined by COVID, so we've thrown ourselves headfirst into homebrewing and are hoping to get into the business of professionally brewing at some point (after finding a way to get some professional experience, of course).

That said, we've decided to see how far it takes us and just enjoy the process while we're young. Currently, we have a propane burner, an 8 gallon pot, a 10 gallon pot, multiple 5 gallon buckets, and bottling accessories. We've been doing BIAB, and it's been working out great!

Our temperature control system is college dorm room engineered, so we use a combination of the swamp cooling method (ice packs in a plastic tote full of water with the fermentation bucket submerged) and a heating jacket if we need to warm them (with an inkbird temp controller).

If YOU had this kind of equipment and an extra $500 to work with, what would you do with it? I know it doesn't go too far in this hobby, but the judges didn't want to cough up any more cash than that. If your idea is over $500, we could also possibly make that work with some of our own money!


Here's a picture of our American-hopped farmhouse! We were so happy when we brewed it and it came out tasting great.
Get a kegerator set up. I set up a two tap system for about $500. It was a DIY conversion of a mini fridge with with a tap tower two kegs, co2 tank, tubing etc.

If not that you definitely need to invest in a more quality fermentation Chamber. But I use my kegerator as a fermentation Chamber as well so you may want to consider that.
Oh don't I know it, $500 in this hobby is a drop in the bucket. But, it's $500 we didn't have before!

Thanks to everyone for all the replies so far! I'm excited to start pricing things out. Another competition we entered just granted us another $500, so we're working with $1000 now!

I'm really liking these ideas of temperature controlled/pressure controlled fermentation chambers. Does anyone have suggestions on those? I'm trying to do some of my own research on them right now, but I really don't have any experience with these types of fermenters
Normally, I would agree, but the conditions of the competitions do require us to spend it relatively soon or they'll take it back
SS fermenter, Brewbucket or the new Delta one. Starter keg system with picnic taps (cheaper and good enough to start). 5cuft chest freezer to ferment and 5-7cuft one for the kegs. I was able to get both the freezers off Craigslist before pandemic for 100. Fermenter ~200. Leaves about enough for starter keg system and co2 tank. Good Luck and let us know the name of the brewery when you become rich and famous!
Normally, I would agree, but the conditions of the competitions do require us to spend it relatively soon or they'll take it back

What kind of competition requires people to spend it? That seems a bit over the top...also, technically if in the US you would need to claim that prize for tax purposes so Uncle Sam can get his nibble.
I like the idea of a kegerator/keezer at this budget. I disagree that bottling ruins beers - that pint you posted in the OP looks fantastic and if tastes as good as it looks I don't think it was ruined by the way you packaged it.

One thing I'd suggest is to keep the kegerator footprint modest. A group of college seniors are probably going to be moving several times in next few years, the kegerator will end up traveling with one of you and their next situation may be more cramped than current.