19 best ways to make homebrewing cheaper

Friday, November 16, 2018
making cheap homebrew

Brewing beer cheaply 

Many brewers like to make homebrew because they can make it to their own taste preferences and also because it's much cheaper than paying $15 bucks a pint at the local.

Seriously, the price of a handle of some craft beers is simply ridiculous - usually due to a poor economy of scale for small breweries and high hop prices.

And that's why brewers like to make cheap beer.

They buy their own hops in bulk.

Indeed buying ingredients in bulk is a great way to save your cash money when brewing. It makes your own beer cheaper by the bottle!

The three best ways to save money are:
  • reuse your yeast (by way of a starter)
  • buy grains and malt in bulk
  • purchase your hops in bulk

Saving on the cost of hops

You can do this with a quick visit to your local beer supplier or buying online from specialty suppliers or even Amazon. It's amazing the range of hops found on there.

A really handy trick to keep your yeast fresh is to buy your own vacuum sealer - so you can reseal your hops, or break them up into your desired batch size. You can then store them in the freezer until they are required on brewing day.

Saving cash on yeast purchasing

Buying yeast can be an expensive exercise, especially when there's so much choice out there nowadays - a brewer's access to quality yeast has never been better.

The beauty of a good yeast is that it doesn't need to be a used once with a brew and then you buy another sachet next time you brew - no, you can recycle the yeast from the trub or you can keep a yeast starter going for the whole brewing season.

Saving money on the price of grains

Most brewers simply purchase a bulk sack of 50 lb base grain. It will usually be uncrushed to you need to mill it so having your own grain mill might be part of the deal - buy a good one so it lasts a lifetime of brewing (a handy trick is to connect a powered drill and save yourself some time instead of doing it by hand).

Some brewers can use up to 20 base pounds for a brew (remember, brewers like to mix and match their malts to get unique flavors) so a 50-pound sack is good for at least two brews! Specialty grains that are added to the base are usually bought in smaller bagged amounts.

If you have a good relationship with the local craft brewer, they may be able to sling a couple of sacks your way. 

Sealable food-grade buckets are a great way to store grains so that they remain fresh and they will keep out those cliched eaters of grain, mice, and rats.

If you are a keen malt kit user, then a great way to save money is to buy them from supermarkets rather than from beer stores. I've found a great place near where my mother lives and every time I visit I buy several of their Coopers kits which are often priced 5 or 6 dollars cheaper than my local beer shop.

There are also other ways to save money when brewing beer, you may already know these but here we go:

  1. Instead of using a 'branded' sanitizer, use a generic product such as a laundry soak that contains sodium percarbonate.
  2. Make your own DIY version of powdered brewery wash
  3. Instead of buying bottles, save your empties and remove the labels. You can also source glass bottles by raiding your neighbor's recycling bins.... best done under the cover of darkness. Given so many people drink craft beer featuring perfect sized bottles for brewing (500 - 600 mls give or take) there's many a bottle to be scrounged. 
  4. If you want to save on buying caps, then you can use swing cap bottles.
  5. All grain brewers often will use a wort chiller to cool down the brew - handy brewers can make their own, saving a few quid. 
  6. Instead of using a wort chiller, you could freeze empty soda bottles with water, say 4 1.5 litre bottles. When it's time to cool the wort, cut the ice from the bottles and drop them into your kettle...
  7. An old fridge can be turned into a fermentation chamber with the smart use of a temperature controller.
  8. A great way to find cheap or free second-hand brewing equipment is to keep an eye out on craigslist - it's quite popular but you'll have to be patient and quick! This is quite true for fridges and freezers, some people just want them out of the house quickly so are prepared to let them go at no cost.
  9. If you want to save on hops, by not using them, you can brew certain styles that don't need them such as Hefeweizen or a low ABV bitter.
  10. Grow your own hops! Homebrew groups on Facebook are a great way to source rhizome cuttings, usually, all it will cost you is a couple of bottles of brew!
  11. Don't use so much hops!
  12. You can find all sorts of handy keg parts on Aliexpress, though if you want quality, you may want to check out sites like Amazon. It's a jungle out there though.
  13. You can also make your own mash tun out of commonly available items such as water coolers.
  14. Organized homebrew clubs can often make purchasing arrangements which means cost savings can be passed to you directly, especially so if shipping costs are kept low.
  15. In winter, you can always use snow to cool wort instead of buying ice for your chiller. Dissolve it in water...
  16. Make your own beer enhancer with supplies bought cheaply online.

Some cautions about cheaping out when buying equipment

There's a long established concept that buying cheap items like tools or shoes will cost you more in the long run than buying a quality implement or boot because you'll need to replace them more often than you would a durable item.

The same applies to brewing in many ways. For example, if you have to choose between kettle sizes, buy the bigger one. Sure, it may cost more but if you stick with brewing, then eventually you'll go all grain at scale and you'll have to buy the larger kettle, thus, you've ultimately spent more than you may have wanted.

This is especially so for items like ph testers - go for quality over cheapness every time, especially all when making kombucha.

The Art of Water Chemistry in Homebrewing

While much of the focus has been on grains, hops, and yeast, one shouldn't overlook the importance of water chemistry when it comes to brewing beer cost-effectively. After all, water makes up the majority of your brew. Many experienced homebrewers invest in water testing kits or seek information about their local water supply to better understand its mineral content. By adjusting your water's chemical makeup with cost-effective additives like gypsum, calcium chloride, or even simple baking soda, you can significantly improve the efficiency of your brewing process and, ultimately, the taste of your beer. 

This fine-tuning allows you to better emulate the water profiles of certain beer styles’ places of origin, such as the soft water for brewing a Czech Pilsner or the hard, sulfate-rich water for an English Pale Ale. What's more, getting your water chemistry right can actually make your ingredients go further, saving you money in the long run. 

Consider this: a more efficient mash process facilitated by optimal water conditions can extract more fermentable sugars from the same amount of grain. It's an advanced technique, but for those committed to the craft and cost-efficiency, it's an area ripe for exploration.

Sourcing Local Ingredients for Authenticity and Cost-Saving

Let’s consider an often overlooked avenue for cost-saving and unique flavor—locally sourced ingredients. Homebrewers who take advantage of seasonal and regional ingredients not only save on costs but also add a touch of local flavor to their brews. Imagine a pumpkin ale brewed with pumpkins grown in your own garden or a stout made with local coffee. The opportunities are endless and often, you're contributing to local agriculture and small businesses. 

Depending on where you live, you might find farmers willing to trade fresh produce for a share of the end product—a win-win scenario that builds community around the art of brewing. Some homebrewers have even been known to forage for wild ingredients, like berries or pine needles, to use in their brewing experiments. While this practice necessitates some knowledge of safe and suitable plants, it offers an intriguing method for incorporating unique, hyper-local flavors into your brews without incurring additional expenses.


Post a Comment

Powered by Blogger.


absorption caps abv acetaldehyde acid adjuncts advice about beer brewing aeration aeration kit aging air lock alcohol alcohol poisoning ale ale beer kits alkaline alkaline brewery wash all grain american amylase apera apples attenuation autolysis automatic temperature compensation bacteria baker's yeast baking yeast ball lock ball valve bar keepers friend barley batch prime beer brewing beer capper beer dispenser beer filtration kit system beer gushers beer kit beer kit review beer kits beer lines beer salt beer taps beerstone best brewing equipment biotin bittering BKF black rock bleach blichmann blow off tubing bluelab bohemian pilsner boil in a bag boil over boneface bottle cap bottle caps bottle conditioning bottling bottling beer bottling spigot bourbon brettanomyces brew and review brew day brewing beer guide brewing salts brewing spoon brewing sugar brewing thermostat brewzilla british thermal unit brix brix scale BTU budvar buffer buffer solution burton snatch buyer's guide calcium chloride calcium sulphate calibration calibration probe calibration solution campden tablets capping carbon dioxide carbonation carbonation drops carboy cascade caustic soda cherry wine chinook chlorine christmas chronicle cider clarity cleaning your equipment clear beer clone recipe cloudy beer cold crashing coldbreak conditioning tablets conductivity conical fermenter contamination coopers copper tun corn sugar cornelius corny keg craft beer creamy beer crown cryo hops cubes danstar nottingham demijohn dextrose distilation DIY DME dopplebock draught dry hopping dry malt extract edelmetall brĂ¼ burner eisbock ekuanot electrode enhancer enzyme equipment ester ethanol experiments in beer making faucet fermcap-s fermentables fermentation fermenter fermentis fermentor final gravity finings five star flat beer floccing foam inhibitor force carbonation french fresh wort pack fridge fruit fusel alchohol garage project gas burners gelatin gift and present ideas gin ginger beer glucose golden ale golden syrup goldings gose grain grain mill green bullet grist guinness gypsum hach hacks hallertauer heat mat heat pad heat wrap home brew honey hop schedule hops hops spider how not to brew beer how to brew that first beer how to brew with a beer kit how to grow hops how to make a hop tea how to wash yeast hydrated layer hydrogen sulfide hydrometer IBU ideas idophor infection inkbird instruments isoamyl acetate jelly beans jockey box john palmer juniper keezer keg cooler keg regulators kegco kegerator kegging kegs kettle kombucha krausen lactic acid lager lagering lauter lion brown liquid malt extract litmus LME lupulin lupulin powder lupuLN2 making beer malic acid malt malt mill maltodextrin mangrove jack's maple syrup mash mash paddle mash tun mccashins mead methanol micro brewing milling milwaukee MW102 mistakes mixing instructions moa mouth feel muntons must nano brewing New Zealand Brewer's Series no rinse nut brown ale oak oak wood chips off flavors original gravity oxygen pacific gem palaeo water pale ale panhead parsnip PBW pear pectine pectolase perlick ph levels ph meter ph pen pH strips ph tester pico brewing pilsner pitching yeast plastic drum poppet valve pot powdered brewing wash ppm precipitated chalk pressure relief valve priming prison hooch probe problem solving propane and propane accessories pruno pump system purity law radler re-using yeast recipe record keeping reddit refractometer reinheitsgebot removing beer labels from bottles review rice hulls riwaka rotten eggs saaz saccharomyces cerevisiae salt sanitization secondary regulator sediment seltzer session beer silicon simple tricks for brewing siphon site glass skunked beer small batch brewing soda soda ash soda stream sodium carbonate sodium carbonate peroxyhydrate sodium hydroxide sodium metasilicate sodium percarbonate sour beer sparge spigot spirals spirits spoon spraymalt star san starch STC-1000 steinlager steralisation sterilisation sterilization sterliization still stoke storage solution stout sucrose sugar supercharger tannins temperature temperature controller therminator thermometer tips for beginners tri-sodium phopsphate tricks and tips trub tubing tui turkey vodka infused gin vorlauf water water testing wet cardboard taste wet hopping weta whirlfloc tablets white claw williamswarn wine winter brewing wood wort wort chiller yeast yeast energizer yeast nutrient yeast rafts yeast starter yeast traps zinc
Back to Top