Costs of starting homebrewing: A year in rebrew

09 December 2018

In which I justify my $6.35 bottles of beer.

TL/DR: I should brew more to bring my cost per serving down

If I had a nickel for every time someone asked if I’m saving money by homebrewing…. I’d have enough for more equipment.

“Homebrewing to save money on beer is like buying a boat to save money on fish”

How much did I brew?

  • I brewed 14 batches of beer over the course of the year! The first couple batches were extract, then I quickly moved to all grain
  • Each batch was 2.5 gallons, while I bottled in many different sized bottles, and eventually found a keg, for the sake of standardization, I am going to translate that into 12 ounce bottles
    • A 2.5 gallon keg makes 26.6666 bottles of beer.
    • Accounting for loss, I’m rounding to 25 bottles of beer per 2.5 gallon batch
    • 14 batches multiplied by 25 bottles
      • I brewed 350 bottles of beer!

What did I brew?

Of the 14 batches I brewed:

  • Scottish Ales: 4
  • Milds/ESBs:2
  • Wheat Beer: 2
  • Saison: 3
  • Milk Stouts: 3

Not accounted for is the nearly 40 gallons of soda water I made using the kegging system. Think of the bottles kept out of the recycling stream!

How much did I spend?

  • Equipment: Start up and Brewing Equipment 530.
    • This included the kettle, all the fermentation carboys, lots of bottles (so many bottles), refractometer, bottling bucket etc. It could have been done for much cheaper (reusing bottles, making due with one fermentor & bottling bucket etc.), but it wasn’t.
  • Kegging: 1100
    • Kegging adds up fast. Everything was purchased new: the freezer, torpedo 2.5 gallon kegs, CO2 tank, regulator, all the tubing, the tap handles etc. This doesn’t even include the cost of a keg collar, which haven’t bothered to make yet. CO2, at $25 for a 5 lb fill is the cheapest part.
    • Not going to lie, this was expensive and not strictly speaking necessary. My husband was looking to brew more and hated bottling and talked me into it. That said, sooooooo much easier than bottling
  • Ingredients (and other consumables): $584
    • This covers the obvious recipe ingredients, but also things like StarnSan, purified water etc.
    • The amount includes ingredients for a recipe I have not made yet, several ounces of hops in the freezer (they were on sale), a large bottle of StarSan and some Powdered Brewery Wash (hey, that stuff is expensive!)

Reflection: Would I be better off going to the bar?

Cost per-Beer ended up being $6.35 per 12 oz bottle. However, I think it was worth every cent!

  • I have learned a ton with this hobby. From reading on the history of beer, exploring global styles, learning about recipes etc. its been great!
  • Also fantastic, the technical skills I’ve developed making this blog. Small things, like learning Markdown (how to format writing etc.), photo editing, social media use etc. I feel like these new expertise will continue to be useful professionally and personally.
  • I got into brewing from a ‘Women and Beer’ meetup. Those women have been a fantastically supportive group of friends and mentors ever since. I’ve gone hiking, Pokemoning, eating, drinking and brewing with this great group of women. The last year would have been much duller without them.
  • I’ve also joined a Homebrew Club! We meet once a month, and share beer, food and knowledge. The experience in any one of the conversations I have has widened my beer horizons tremendously.
The group!
The group!
  • Nothing compares to having and sharing a fresh poured pint that you made. The feeling of technically mastery can not be compared to ordering a pint at a bar…
  • I got into brewing because my favourite styles (Scottish Ales, Red ales, British Milds) are not frequently brewed. Making them myself, exactly how I want them, has only lead to me appreciating them more.

Conclusion: Worth it!

Since brewing my husband and I have been more social, both hanging out with homebrewers, but also as hosts. We are now much more inclined to have friends over for board games and pot lucks as we are so excited to share our creations.

Ultimately, homebrewing is a hobby, it brings so much joy to my life for the reasons I listed above. Its been worth every penny. Plus, the sunk cost of equipment just means I should brew more next year!