Home Brewing: Is It Really Cheaper? | Refresh Financial

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Home Brewing: Is Brewing Your Own Beer Really Cheaper?


You probably have that one buddy who brews his own beer. He’s sure he’s onto the next greatest thing, and he loves to remind you, every chance he gets, how little he spends on beer now. But is this really a cheaper way to go about having bubbly golden hops on hand for Monday Night Football? Are you actually going to save yourself a few dimes?

The answer to that, my beer-loving friends, is more complicated than you want to know on a Friday. Unfortunately, the clearest, most concise answer I can give you is: it depends.

It depends on the recipe you’re following - some call for ingredients that are more expensive and time-consuming to obtain than others.

It depends on the equipment you already have, and what you’ll need to buy. It also depends on the type of person you are: are you the sort who needs the best and fanciest equipment? Do you want pro-looking labels and all the top gear?

It depends on how well you follow instructions: it’s not unheard of that a first-time home brewer throws out batch number one… or even number two.

How Much Does it Cost To Brew Beer

According to Serious Eats, you’re going to need, at the bare minimum, the following equipment:

  • 4+ gallon pot. The bigger the better! A $30 aluminum lobster pot works great.
  • 6 gallon plastic bucket with a spigot for sanitizing and bottling. ($13)
  • 6 gallon fermentation bucket. These have a lid with a hole drilled for an airlock. ($12)
  • Airlock and stopper. ($3)
  • 3 or 4 small nylon bags for adding hops to the boil. Pantyhose works in a pinch, but try to use a new pair. ($12)
  • Racking cane. This is to syphon beer out of the fermentor or kettle. There are "auto-syphon" versions that save headaches and help with good sanitation practices. ($10)
  • Food grade sanitizer, either iodine based or acid based. ($10)
  • Hydrometer and Hydrometer Jar. ($10)
  • Waterproof thermometer with a range that includes 130*F-190*F. ($6)
  • Bottle caps ($5)
  • Bottle capper ($16)
  • Bottling wand ($4)
  • 5 feet of 3/8 inch beverage line. Use this for transferring beer and filling bottles.
  • Bottles ($0-$40). You'll need enough for 5 gallons, so either 30 of the 22oz bottles or 55 of the 12oz variety. If you want to save money, just throw a party, have your friends bring the beers and keep leftover bottles. Or just save your own. They need to be the non-twist-off variety and they need to be thoroughly cleaned. You can stick them in the dishwasher, but don't use detergent.

Of course, this is in American funds, so when all is said and done, just to get up and running, you need a $200 investment with the absolute bare bones equipment. Now you’re going to need a home brew kit with the ingredients to make your delicious hops. That’s going to run you between $30 and $100 depending on the recipe, and it will yield from a couple dozen beers to 50. At absolute lowest cost, that first batch, if it’s the only batch you make, costs you $4.60 per beer, not including the cost of your time, and your utility bills.

So, if you’re going to make it worth it, you’re going to have to be brewing and drinking a lot of beer, so I say, get out that drill, make a new hole in your belt, and get sippin’!

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