Author Topic: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?  (Read 36938 times)

mabinogi

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Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« on: April 08, 2015, 02:16:52 PM »
My husband and I drink a fair amount of good beer. We probably go through 1-2 six-packs a week (less right now because I'm pregnant and not drinking at all). We've toyed for a while with the thought of brewing our own but I don't know if we'd enjoy it enough for it to be worth the time unless it also saved us money. Any home-brewers here? We were given some of the equipment from a friend but not all of it, so there would be a start-up cost, of course.

dycker1978

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2015, 02:31:31 PM »
I am in Saskatchewan, Canada, so our prices for store bought beer are high.  Like $6 or $7 a pint high, especially if you like good beer.  So for me it is much cheaper.  I brew it for about $1.25 a liter.  This is the easy way to brew.  It would be less then 1/2 that if I went to an all grain brew.  But the start up is more for that, so I have held off for now.
 

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2015, 03:01:55 PM »
Yes you can make beer for less then you buy it for. Even very good beer.

However; i found once i started brewing that it became a hobby that i would spend money on. New bits of kit to improve your process. Going to beer events etc.

Syonyk

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2015, 03:03:29 PM »
Spending money on equipment to brew excellent beer at home seems a worthwhile tradeoff. :)

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2015, 03:11:03 PM »
and dycker - Go all grain. you will never look back.

Gone Fishing

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2015, 03:29:36 PM »
I never could make the math strong enough to justify doing it just to save money.  I can buy good beer (Sierra Nevada is my favorite) for around $1.10 each on sale (12 pack).  I didn't back test it, but my estimated number for home brew was around $.75 each.  With the other things I had going on, it just wasn't worth my time to save a few dollars.  Also, having 50 beers sitting around just led to more drinking.  For now, I just grow hops and trade them for beer from my homebrewing friends. Although, I may go after it again once I FIRE.

sol

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2015, 03:38:49 PM »
I look into it every couple of years, but so far it hasn't penciled out for me to make my own beer.

Economies of scale make all the difference.  There's just no way for me in my garage to compete on price with a real brewery unless I'm also making massive quantities of beer.  I just don't drink enough.

It could be close for some expensive beers, but even then I would end up with a ton of one kind of beer.  I much prefer to have six kinds of beer in my fridge at all times.

Store bought beer is of uniformly good quality, with no bad batches.  It's reasonably priced, seasonally rotated, comes in more types and flavors than I could ever make on my own, and is always available pre-chilled a five minute walk from my house.

Brewing beer is a fine hobby and I look forward to having the time to pursue it in retirement.  But I don't pretend it will save me any money.

tjthebest

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2015, 04:10:52 PM »
I did my senior project in college on the cost/benefit analysis of brewing your own beer. I surveyed a couple hundred people on Homebrewtalk.com and my results pretty much showed that it can be cost effective on a per batch basis, its just getting over the hump of all the equipment that you need to buy. and then the fact that you always want the best/new equipment. Another factor is that in order to make a fancier/tastier beer, it may require more/unique ingredients which cost more. I also had a question that asked if the people brewed beer to save money. about 90% of the poeple surveyed do not. it turns into quite a fun/expensive hobby.

Investing4Freedom

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2015, 04:39:17 PM »
The cost of the basic equipment needed for start up should be less than $100 (brew pot, fermenting bucket, transfer tube, sanitizer, glass carboy, bottle capper).  You can add potentially thousands of dollars worth of equipment depending on how complex you want your operation to be.  Inevitably, craigslist will have used homebrew equipment from others that have decided that either the time it takes or the sanitation efforts are not worth it.

Starting with extract brewing, you should be able to get kits to produce 5 gallons of beer for $30-$60, depending on how big/complex the beer is.  At that price, you are looking at $.60 to $1.20 for a 12oz bottle, so it would be significantly below.  Of course, each batch will have 10-12 hours of work associated with it, so whether or not you want to think of that cost/end up enjoying the process will really be the biggest factor.  Brewing all-grain, your costs will go down per batch, but there will be additional equipment and time costs.  Brewing all-grain, I have made clones of some high end beers ($5 or more per 12 oz bottle) at a cost of $1.00 - $1.30 per bottle. 

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2015, 09:11:56 PM »
... comes in more types and flavors than I could ever make on my own, ...

I totally disagree with you on this one Sol. How many varieties you make is only limited by your gumption. You have never struck me as someone with a shortage of that.

Your bottom line is spot on though. It is a great hobby. Not a money saver.

TRBeck

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2015, 08:36:53 AM »
Not a money saver. If you drink Trappist ales and limited edition craft bombers exclusively, you can eventually make it cheaper than you can buy it. But only after you've amortized the cost of the equipment over several batches and improved your quality control to the point where your beer is consistently excellent. Even then, much depends on how you use water for chilling, rinsing bottles and/or kegs for re-use, cleaning and rinsing mash tuns, fermenters, etc., and whether or not you spend money on electricity to control  fermentation temperatures, lager your Oktoberfests and Pilsners, etc.

A decade ago when I started brewing, I couldn't find altbiers, saisons, or witbiers with any regularity, so I justified it on those grounds. But now, even the most obscure styles and historical oddities are available from excellent craft brewers.

I love beer brewing, and I am generally of the opinion that learning skills is a good thing, but if you're looking into it to save money, your better off finding savings elsewhere.

anks

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2015, 08:55:51 AM »
Long time homebrewer here! I think it can be cost effective if you resist the urge to spend money on constantly updating your home brewery. I went down this track and looking back realized what a tremendous waste of money it was. The Simple Dollar did a good article discussing the costs here .

Its very easy to make great beer with a very basic kit, like this one for $100. All you need is a pot that holds ~ 5 gallons and a stove. Stick with bottling your batches (start saving your bottles from purchased beer instead of buying them), as kegging means a lot of expensive equipment. As you learn more about brewing, you will be tempted to go with "all grain" over "extract", but stick with extract because all grain can also require more equipment and added complexity. You can make great tasting beer with extract kits!

A lot of fancy equipment is needed if you want to make the exact same beer twice. Take the 'artists' approach and let every batch surprise you!

gaja

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2015, 09:14:39 AM »
We are blessed with some of the world's highest alcohol taxes (~$3/liter for normal beer), so the math is very simple. Almost no matter what you do, you will save money brewing your own.

mabinogi

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2015, 01:39:38 PM »
Thanks, everyone! So, if I average all your responses ;) it sounds as though we could break even on beer-brewing but won't likely save a ton of money. In that case, I think we will wait a while until we're sure we have the time (and desire) to do it as a hobby. It's probably not a high priority right now, but is something that we'd both like to get into eventually.

anks

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2015, 01:48:10 PM »
Thanks, everyone! So, if I average all your responses ;) it sounds as though we could break even on beer-brewing but won't likely save a ton of money. In that case, I think we will wait a while until we're sure we have the time (and desire) to do it as a hobby.

The joy you get from drinking something you made yourself is hard to quantify in $$s, but it definitely counts for something! I have seen breweries / homebrew stores around that will let you use all their equipment to brew a batch of beer. Basically you pay a fee, they teach you how to brew, and you pick up your tasty goodness a month or so later. This would be a good option for someone trying to test the waters! I'm in MN, and this is an example of a place that does this by me, but there are plenty of other options around.

mikesinWV

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2015, 02:34:55 PM »
Other option is to buy small (1/6 bbl or 5 gallon) kegs assuming you have a way to tap/serve it.  Probably more cost effective than buying bottles.  You can generally pick up used refrigerators from Craigslist that are in good condition for good prices.  Then you could hook up the tap yourself. 

grantmeaname

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #16 on: April 09, 2015, 02:59:02 PM »
I am in Saskatchewan, Canada, so our prices for store bought beer are high.  Like $6 or $7 a pint high, especially if you like good beer.  So for me it is much cheaper.  I brew it for about $1.25 a liter.  This is the easy way to brew.  It would be less then 1/2 that if I went to an all grain brew.  But the start up is more for that, so I have held off for now.
Check this out, the costs are minimal this way!

dycker1978

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #17 on: April 09, 2015, 03:18:15 PM »
I am in Saskatchewan, Canada, so our prices for store bought beer are high.  Like $6 or $7 a pint high, especially if you like good beer.  So for me it is much cheaper.  I brew it for about $1.25 a liter.  This is the easy way to brew.  It would be less then 1/2 that if I went to an all grain brew.  But the start up is more for that, so I have held off for now.
Check this out, the costs are minimal this way!

Awesome!!! thanks

El Marinero

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #18 on: April 09, 2015, 03:21:33 PM »
I am in Saskatchewan, Canada, so our prices for store bought beer are high.

Much of the home brew industry is based in Canada,  because the high taxes on store-bought alcohol make DIY beer a relative bargain.

Here in the states I've found homebrew to be something to do as an enjoyable hobby, just not for the savings.

hyla

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #19 on: April 13, 2015, 09:08:25 PM »
It's cheaper for me on a per-beer basis.  Probably $0.40 - 0.75 per beer for homebrew, vs. $1.00 - $1.50 for similar quality storebought beer (For styles, I'm talking regular strength craft brew styles - good porters, pale ales etc, but nothing imperial or high gravity).  But, I also find that I am much more generous giving beers to friends with homebrew than I would be otherwise, so I'm not sure I actually spend less money on beer.  I brew extract plus mini-mash, all grain is cheaper, but I don't have the space for a mash tun.  If you do, all grain gear does not have to be expensive.  Yes, you can spend hundreds on fancy stainless steel purpose made stuff... but you you can also make a mash tun out of an old cooler and a 15 gallon pot out of an keg with the top cut off. 

Generally, it is cheaper in most situations, but I think in most areas the cost savings are nice if you also enjoy brewing, but maybe not large enough to justify homebrewing for cost reasons alone, because it certainly takes time.

Revelry

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #20 on: April 14, 2015, 05:57:59 AM »
MMM's article on brewing cider rekindled my interest a few months ago and homebrewtalk.com has fed my appetite for knowledge.  If I stuck with brewing cider I would probably get the cost/bottle down to about $0.40 vs. an Angry Orchard is $1.50 most of the time around here.  Buutttt...the reception was so positive and I've had so much fun that I'm experimenting with apfelwein and mead now. 

Just reiterating what others have said.  It's a really fun hobby and you can save money per bottle, but you'll likely end up buying more equipment and drinking/sharing more than you would otherwise.  I recommend it!  :)

commodore perry

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #21 on: April 19, 2015, 07:54:52 AM »
It's cheaper than good craft beers. ~$0.70-$1/beer plus natural gas to cook (not sure how much brewing uses). Few cents for the cap. Water is well water so essentially free, for me anyway. I just reuse and reuse old beer bottles. Around here a decent beer in six pack is ~ $1.49/beer or more.

That said, even if it were cost neutral I would still home brew. I like the beer I make at home better than just about anything I can buy at the store. If I get behind and run out of home brew, my wife and I lament having to buy crappy store bought beer.

2ndTimer

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #22 on: April 19, 2015, 10:58:44 AM »
We found it fun and cost effective for people who like good beer.  However, the Hub quickly concluded that he could not brew beer an make his military weight every six months so we gave away the equipment.

DK

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #23 on: April 19, 2015, 01:32:18 PM »
Cost-effective with buying vs ingredients to homebrew? Yes.
Cost-effective with buying vs ingredients to homebrew plus equipment to buy? Only after many batches.
Cost-effective with buying vs ingredients to homebrew plus equipment to buy plus your time doing it? Never. (well maybe if your hourly rate to pay yourself is less than min wage)

That being said, I've been doing it for years and it's a great hobby. No price on making something yourself, being able to share with family and friends, and the taste rivals most craft beers IMO.

I'm actually planning to move to all grain, and do half batches, brew in a bag (BIAB) style, so I don't have any overhead with new equipment, and to be able to experiment more. I think if I was starting today, I would have went right to BIAB all grain and skipped the extracts completely.


DSKla

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #24 on: April 19, 2015, 08:50:08 PM »
I find you save the most by brewing the most expensive styles. I.E. you save more $/bottle on a strong Belgian beer or imperial stout than on a wheat beer or pale ale.

Hourly rate shouldn't be a factor, unless you are literally doing it instead of working at a time when you have the option to be getting paid. Just because your salary averages out to $25/hr doesn't mean you are losing $200 by spending four hours on a Saturday cleaning, brewing, and cleaning some more. It's a hobby, so if it supports itself or saves you a few bucks over just buying it, and it's fun, go for it. I'd never do it purely to save money if it weren't fun, though.

lpep

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #25 on: April 19, 2015, 09:06:23 PM »
It can be cost effective, but having shelves of bottles of delicious homebrew means you tend to drink more, I found, and family/friends are always expecting to drink your beer (which is fun, but gets annoying). I stopped homebrewing, stopped drinking nearly as much (and I was never a heavy drinker) b/c beer in SE Asia just isn't worth it, and I feel healthier.

Hoberto

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #26 on: April 29, 2015, 05:33:42 AM »
I wouldn't brew just to save money.  If that's your reason, it'll become a chore.

That said, as a hobby I had fun and it was cheap entertainment on the weekends.  I absolutely hated bottling so I switched to kegging so that was nice.  Eventually, though, I just didn't drink enough to keep doing it.  Now I have a bunch of homebrew stuff I really should sell.

clarkm04

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #27 on: April 29, 2015, 07:26:09 AM »
I've been brewing for 6 years.  First year was partial mash, last 5 all grain.

It can be cost effective, but for me and most of my local homebrew buddies, it's a hobby, so it's not.

You can brew very cheaply (used brew pot, burner, chest freezer for fermentation control, carboys or buckets), but the vast majority of home brewers I know, they end up spending money on those things since they are hard to run across on Craig's.  If you invest in nice stuff (which I do), unless you brew constantly, you'll never recoup the initial equipment investment.

Compounding things for me is that I still enjoy commercial beer, so I purchase a lot too.  :)

If you still want to do it economically, here's my best advice:
- All grain
- Used equipment
- Try to get into getting bulk grain.  We have a group, so I buy all my base grain in 55 lb bags.  Saves a ton of money.
- bulk hops.  Harder to get, but in the fall you can buy pounds of hops online from a variety of hop providers.
- Significantly lower or eliminate buying commercial beer
- Make styles that are cheaper to brew.  For instance a wheat, brown or German lager (if you have temp control), will be much cheaper per batch than IPAs or imperial stouts
- Get all your info free from John Palmer's first book, Beer Advocate, or Homebrewtalk
- Take good care of your equipment.  If you maintain and clean it, you can use most of it for years.


skunkfunk

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #28 on: April 29, 2015, 09:00:43 AM »
http://brulosophy.com/2014/06/11/getting-started-if-i-knew-then-what-i-know-now/

Check that out for info on how to make a cheap, first AG batch.

Buy ingredients in bulk. Hops, base grain.

I dropped about $1k on equipment, total. I could have done half that much money and be making the same beer if I weren't stupid.

All in all, if you enjoy it, then yes it is worth it. You can save money if you keep it simple (3 gallon BIAB as linked above, simple hefeweizen can be done for $10 or so if you harvest your own yeast with under $100 equipment) but I wouldn't count on keeping it simple. If you don't enjoy the process, you can do better by doing errands on craigslist to buy more beer. The labor involved is not intense but it is time consuming. I bet I spend 8-10 hours between procuring ingredients, brewing the wort, tending to fermentation, and bottling for 10-12 gallons of beer.

Guses

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #29 on: April 29, 2015, 01:40:00 PM »
I will agree with both posters above me.

Used equipment is much cheaper. So cheap that I actually made some $ by keeping what I wanted and selling stuff individually.

Buying ingredients in bulk. Grains : 70 cents per pound. Hops: 100 cents per ounce.

Wash and reuse your yeast. A single liquid pouch can be used for several generations.

Kegging saves time and eventually money (if you amortize the cost of the caps + sugar).

With all the above, you could make a BMC clone batch (who would do that?!) for less than 12$ for 5 gallons worth of wort (pun intended).

That's about 18 cents per 341 ml serving. Doing something really good is not that much more expensive.

skunkfunk

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #30 on: April 29, 2015, 01:42:48 PM »


With all the above, you could make a BMC clone batch (who would do that?!) for less than 12$ for 5 gallons worth of wort (pun intended).


Definitely don't start with that. I recommend starting with an ale, and preferably a fairly flavorful ale around 5-6% ABV. Trying for a tasteless lager your first time out is just asking for a gross mess.

Pooja Sharma

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #31 on: April 29, 2015, 10:58:38 PM »

Beer-brewing at home?
nice idea!
And a perfect business too as people might stop drinking water but will never stop drinking beer.
That's what brands think

Guses

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #32 on: April 30, 2015, 09:55:33 AM »
And a perfect business too as people might stop drinking water but will never stop drinking beer.
That's what brands think

Careful, if you don't like jailtime, you need permits to sell stuff you make at home. It might be different where you are but USA and CAN are pretty stringent about this.

Gordion

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #33 on: May 02, 2015, 04:39:33 PM »
We are blessed with some of the world's highest alcohol taxes (~$3/liter for normal beer), so the math is very simple. Almost no matter what you do, you will save money brewing your own.
That's the case for most things in Norway. DIY is great because the local purchasing power is not that great (despite being "world richest country"):
http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/stats/Cost-of-living/Local-purchasing-power . I do nearly everything myself despite earning a decent engineer salary because DIY is next to always cost-effective.

For the thread starter i would say - It depends on. If you're earning a engineer salary (100 k USD+) and living in the US I would not brew beer at home, but for high tax countries (Norway, Canada etc.) DIY brewing is a great tax dodging technique.

Hey It's Me

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #34 on: May 02, 2015, 04:49:42 PM »
This is why I love this forum: any hobby you mention, at least three people are pros at it.

To answer your OP: I've always heard from homebrewers that you get into it for the hobby, not for the cost benefits.

Bob W

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #35 on: May 04, 2015, 10:12:57 AM »
No it is not.   

If you like beer you might consider building your own keg cooler big enough for 2 or 3 kegs.  Keg beer is generally much cheaper than bottled and IMHO tastes better.   Keg beer is generally alive and unpasteurized vs. heat treated bottled or canned beer.  Plus your friends and family will think you are very cool with your own tap. 

If you want to save money,  you might consider good old vodka though.   For $6 you can buy a 20 drink bottle.   Mix it with a little water and ice and you're ready to go.   It is 4 times as cheap as craft beer.   

If your just going for a beer buzz consider Keystone Ice.  Packs a punch and doesn't cost a bunch.   

skunkfunk

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #36 on: May 04, 2015, 10:18:21 AM »
Keg beer is generally alive and unpasteurized vs. heat treated bottled or canned beer. 

That's just not true. Most craft beer is not pasteurized. It is typically filtered to remove the yeast and some proteins but it is a rare craft brewer that bothers to pasteurize anything. If it isn't bottle conditioned it will generally be pretty close to the same as a kegged beer.

regulator

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #37 on: May 04, 2015, 10:35:11 AM »
Hogwash.  It costs me 50 to 75 cents a pint vs. $1.50 or more for equivalent store bought stuff.  I bang out 10 gallons at a time and save quite a bit every year doing this.  Don't go nuts with spendy equipment and it is a clear money saver.  Then there are all the side benefits, like making exactly what you want.  I can make renditions of beers that are no longer made, for example.

grantmeaname

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #38 on: May 04, 2015, 01:34:04 PM »
If you like beer you might consider building your own keg cooler big enough for 2 or 3 kegs.  Keg beer is generally much cheaper than bottled
This part is false too. I got the bottles for free after a beer tasting, they come free from bars, and you can find them on craigslist. But even if you paid for brand new bottles you'd be looking at 50c per bottle, and they last forever if you don't drop them. So a five-gallon batch is going to run you $25 in fixed costs, far less than a kegerator even if you consider that a big enough kegerator can hold 15 gallons.

The picture is even more strongly in favor of bottling when you look at variable costs. Caps are 2.5c each. Priming sugar costs equally little - five gallons would use a quarter pound, or $.63. So your total variable cost per 5 gallon batch is $1.88. That's 31 kWh even at my very cheap electricity rates, which will only run a chest freezer for nine days and change. Then there's the $40 CO2 tank, which lasts for just five or six batches. So kegging has higher variable costs too, and it's not even close.

skunkfunk

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #39 on: May 04, 2015, 01:38:32 PM »
If you like beer you might consider building your own keg cooler big enough for 2 or 3 kegs.  Keg beer is generally much cheaper than bottled
This part is false too. I got the bottles for free after a beer tasting, they come free from bars, and you can find them on craigslist. But even if you paid for brand new bottles you'd be looking at 50c per bottle, and they last forever if you don't drop them. So a five-gallon batch is going to run you $25 in fixed costs, far less than a kegerator even if you consider that a big enough kegerator can hold 15 gallons.

The picture is even more strongly in favor of bottling when you look at variable costs. Caps are 2.5c each. Priming sugar costs equally little - five gallons would use a quarter pound, or $.63. So your total variable cost per 5 gallon batch is $1.88. That's 31 kWh even at my very cheap electricity rates, which will only run a chest freezer for nine days and change. Then there's the $40 CO2 tank, which lasts for just five or six batches. So kegging has higher variable costs too, and it's not even close.

He's talking about commercial beer.

grantmeaname

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #40 on: May 04, 2015, 03:20:13 PM »
Ah, I didn't catch the departure from actual beer brewing, the subject of the thread.

Guses

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #41 on: May 05, 2015, 09:10:14 AM »
The picture is even more strongly in favor of bottling when you look at variable costs. Caps are 2.5c each. Priming sugar costs equally little - five gallons would use a quarter pound, or $.63. So your total variable cost per 5 gallon batch is $1.88. That's 31 kWh even at my very cheap electricity rates, which will only run a chest freezer for nine days and change. Then there's the $40 CO2 tank, which lasts for just five or six batches. So kegging has higher variable costs too, and it's not even close.

I disagree that kegging is more expensive.

I have a 20# CO2 tank and it cost me 32$ to fill it up. That will dispense 62-87 brews at 5 gallon. So you are looking at a cost of 30-50 cents per batch to dispense versus about 1$ for caps.

You can carbonate it the same as when you bottle, with sugar.

I already have a second full size fridge that we use to store bulk food so I just stick a keg at the back.

What I like most is that kegging takes 5 minutes versus 45-60 minutes and I don't have a bunch of bottles to clean.

In summary, kegging is cheaper if: You buy CO2 in 20# tanks. Don't force carb. Don't buy a fridge specifically for kegs (if you have one already).





skunkfunk

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #42 on: May 05, 2015, 09:27:36 AM »
The picture is even more strongly in favor of bottling when you look at variable costs. Caps are 2.5c each. Priming sugar costs equally little - five gallons would use a quarter pound, or $.63. So your total variable cost per 5 gallon batch is $1.88. That's 31 kWh even at my very cheap electricity rates, which will only run a chest freezer for nine days and change. Then there's the $40 CO2 tank, which lasts for just five or six batches. So kegging has higher variable costs too, and it's not even close.

I disagree that kegging is more expensive.

I have a 20# CO2 tank and it cost me 32$ to fill it up. That will dispense 62-87 brews at 5 gallon. So you are looking at a cost of 30-50 cents per batch to dispense versus about 1$ for caps.

You can carbonate it the same as when you bottle, with sugar.

I already have a second full size fridge that we use to store bulk food so I just stick a keg at the back.

What I like most is that kegging takes 5 minutes versus 45-60 minutes and I don't have a bunch of bottles to clean.

In summary, kegging is cheaper if: You buy CO2 in 20# tanks. Don't force carb. Don't buy a fridge specifically for kegs (if you have one already).

How do you bottle in 45-60 minutes?? Took me 4 hours with 2 people to do 108 bottles on Saturday!

Guses

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #43 on: May 05, 2015, 09:37:44 AM »
The picture is even more strongly in favor of bottling when you look at variable costs. Caps are 2.5c each. Priming sugar costs equally little - five gallons would use a quarter pound, or $.63. So your total variable cost per 5 gallon batch is $1.88. That's 31 kWh even at my very cheap electricity rates, which will only run a chest freezer for nine days and change. Then there's the $40 CO2 tank, which lasts for just five or six batches. So kegging has higher variable costs too, and it's not even close.

I disagree that kegging is more expensive.

I have a 20# CO2 tank and it cost me 32$ to fill it up. That will dispense 62-87 brews at 5 gallon. So you are looking at a cost of 30-50 cents per batch to dispense versus about 1$ for caps.

You can carbonate it the same as when you bottle, with sugar.

I already have a second full size fridge that we use to store bulk food so I just stick a keg at the back.

What I like most is that kegging takes 5 minutes versus 45-60 minutes and I don't have a bunch of bottles to clean.

In summary, kegging is cheaper if: You buy CO2 in 20# tanks. Don't force carb. Don't buy a fridge specifically for kegs (if you have one already).

How do you bottle in 45-60 minutes?? Took me 4 hours with 2 people to do 108 bottles on Saturday!

I have a vacuum pump (which is something that can be DIY) and I only do 22oz or 14oz bottles. Also, I am only counting the time it takes for me to fill bottles with the precious precious liquid. Meaning that the bottles are clean and sterilized.

Filling a keg is a BREEEZE compared to this.

regulator

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #44 on: May 05, 2015, 07:05:12 PM »
+1 on kegging being a clear winner.  Frankly, I will more than happily toss in a few extra shekels to be able to force carb and keg rather than the hassle of bottling.

lithy

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #45 on: May 05, 2015, 07:23:29 PM »
I made this post a while back, I could certainly go into endless additional detail, but I think my main point is that if you ever hope to save money by brewing your own beer, you have to pick the right beer styles to brew at home.

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/share-your-badassity/opened-my-first-batch-of-brew-and-it-was-good/msg182573/#msg182573

grantmeaname

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #46 on: May 06, 2015, 07:50:18 AM »
How do you bottle in 45-60 minutes?? Took me 4 hours with 2 people to do 108 bottles on Saturday!
It takes us less than an hour for 50 bottles:
1. Run dishwasher with all bottles in it. Watch Netflix.
2. Put beer and priming sugar in bottling bucket on counter. Put bottles on door of dishwasher.
3. Fill bottles with bottling wand.
4. Cap. Carry to cellar.

4 hours is insane!

grantmeaname

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #47 on: May 06, 2015, 07:52:23 AM »
I have a 20# CO2 tank and it cost me 32$ to fill it up. That will dispense 62-87 brews at 5 gallon. So you are looking at a cost of 30-50 cents per batch to dispense versus about 1$ for caps.
That leaves you with 50-70c to refrigerate the entire batch over the month or so that you drink it. It costs more than that, even if you already own a fridge.

Guses

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #48 on: May 06, 2015, 08:33:54 AM »
I have a 20# CO2 tank and it cost me 32$ to fill it up. That will dispense 62-87 brews at 5 gallon. So you are looking at a cost of 30-50 cents per batch to dispense versus about 1$ for caps.
That leaves you with 50-70c to refrigerate the entire batch over the month or so that you drink it. It costs more than that, even if you already own a fridge.

Unless you drink your bottled beer hot, you use the same amount of energy to cooldown the same volume of liquid. You just do it 14 oz at a time versus 5 gallons.

So no, if you already own unused refrigerated space (i.e. you have room in your fridge) it does not cost more energy to keg.

I would even go as far as saying that, once a keg is fully refrigerated, it actually acts as mass/volume that will keep your fridge cool even if you open the door. Thus saving energy that would have been used to refrigerate hot air that snuck into the fridge.

grantmeaname

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Re: Is beer-brewing cost-effective?
« Reply #49 on: May 06, 2015, 08:57:24 AM »
I would even go as far as saying that, once a keg is fully refrigerated, it actually acts as mass/volume that will keep your fridge cool even if you open the door. Thus saving energy that would have been used to refrigerate hot air that snuck into the fridge.
I do drink most of my beer at cellar temperature, because it's not piss and doesn't need to be cold to be enjoyed. But even if I were to chill each bottle before I drank it, that would be like an hour per bottle rather than an entire month. It takes energy to keep things cold, so keeping a batch cold for a month has to take more energy than keeping that batch cold for an hour.