Home-Brewing Beer

by Ryan Yates

Today we are going to look at the frugalness of Homebrewing Beer. I have never homebrewed beer myself, but “the Dad” who runs the website ClimbingOut suggested that I write a post about it. Never willing to pass up a great idea I thought it would educational and fun to explore the possiblity that homebrewing is cheaper than running to the corner party store to pick up a 12-pack.

After reading a ton about the brewing process I’ve come to the conclusion that you probably should have a love for the product. It does take some work to produce a tasty drinkable product. Judging by the tons of resources, blogs, and magazines about the subjuct I’d say that there are plenty of people who love to brew.

“Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.” -Dave Barry

Equipment:

You need to have some equipment to brew the beer. There are many home brewing kits on the market. These kits range in price from $39.99 for a Mr. Beer Deluxe Kit to $499.95 for a Deluxe Kegging package.

The basic items in a home brewing kit:

  • 6.5 gallon Fermenting bucket
  • Airlock
  • Sanitizer
  • Siphon unit
  • Thermometer
  • Hydrometer
  • Bottle capper
  • Bottle brush
  • Guide book

Advanced equipment

  • Stainless Steel Spoon
  • Brew Pot
  • Immersion Wort Chiller
  • 5-gallon Keg
  • CO2 Kegging System

Ingredients:


The 4 basic ingredients required to make beer are:

  • Water
  • Malted barley
  • Hops
  • Yeast

These ingredients are usully purchased in kits called “Beer Kits”. The Beer Kits are made up of different types of ingredient to produce a receipt (i.e. American Ale, English Stout, Strawberry Shortcake). Purchasing a kit will take the guess work out trying to create your own, as well as produce a batch of beer that you’ll probably find quite tasty when it’s complete. These kits range in price from $27.95 for a American style beer (think Miller or Bud) to $44.95 for a specialty style beer (think Rogue Dead Guy Ale or Sierra Nevada Pale Ale).

The Process:

  • Crushing the Grain
  • Steeping
  • Boiling
  • Cooling the Wort
  • Pitching the Yeast
  • Fermentation
  • Kegging/Bottling

The Cost:

Even though brewing your own beer will take alot of time, does the material costs provide a cheaper alternative to purchasing beer at the store? The chart below does not put a value on the time involved to brew the beer and does not factor in the equipment needed.

The numbers work out to be a WIN for the home brewing based on materical costs; $326.04 saved by brewing a normal “American” beer, and $424.32 by brewing the usually expensive “Premium” beer. Now there are upfront costs involved to obtaining the necessary equipment to become a Brew Master. You could ask for equipment as gifts for your Birthday and Christmas. You can also use any blow money in the budget to purchase the equipment. Once you have the equipment you won’t have to purchase it again so any savings from brewing your own beer will go directly into your pocket.

I want to thank The Dad for helping provide the pictures in the post and for the idea. If you like the idea of having a hobby that will provide you with some yummy rewards, I would recommend you look into home brewing. I would start brewing my own beer today if it wasn’t my 2 month anniversary of quiting drinking.

Good luck and don’t drink and drive!!!

In next week’s Friday Frugal Tip, we’ll look at the popular “Value” menu at the local fast food joints.

{ 8 comments }

the Dad, Climbing Out January 22, 2010 at

Hey, great write-up, Jeff! I’d recommend How to Brew by John Palmer to anyone thinking of starting (the book is even better than the website).

Cheers!

Jeffrey Kosola January 22, 2010 at

Hmm… I missed the How to Brew during my researching, looks like a cool place to start.

Thanks again for the help. Your Brew Kit looks Awesome!!! And so does that beer 🙂

Forest January 22, 2010 at

I really wanna brew my own beer but don’t have the space in my aprtment and may have trouble finding the stuff easily here in Egypt. There are however a few breweries here that may sell me some hops and I can get some Tupperware to use… If I end up here another 6months or so then I will have to try…

Jeffrey Kosola January 22, 2010 at

I’m sure you can get it shipped to Egypt, might cost a pretty penny though. You could even start up your own brew pub from your apartment, I’m sure the locals would LOVE it.

Forest January 22, 2010 at

Ha ha, you know I was talking about that just yesterday…. The beer choice here is pretty crappy, just all lagers made by either Heineken or a local brewery called Stella… they are drinkable but not great beer. I would really like to have a decent dark brew.

Mark January 23, 2010 at

Terrific post, I am a big fan of number crunching and to see your numbers on the premium home brew certainly makes it worth considering if the opportunity arises.

Jeffrey Kosola January 24, 2010 at

Yeah, I was surprised how much you could save. Yes the equipment costs a little money, but if it’s a hobby I think the cost can almost be overlooked.

Money Funk January 24, 2010 at

I have a couple of friends that brew their beer from inside their apartment (boys will be boys) and they’ve taken home state winnings from the fair. I have to admit their beer does far better than many I’ve had. So, I am all for the home brew.

Actually, in my area there is a place that is set up to mix and brew your own beer. Then when it is ready you come back to bottle, cap it, and make your labels up. Makes pretty good business and is a cool little hangout.

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