Everyone seems to have a friend, neighbor, or relative that has enjoys home beer brewing. Call it a hobby if you will, but most people get the satisfaction of coming up with his or her own ale, stout, or pilsner. If the big boys of the macro beer world can do it, so can the John Doe in his basement. I have tasted homemade micro beers from friends and relatives and they taste way better than any commercially produced macro brew and are competitive in flavor and aroma with the fancy microbrews sold at the local liquor store and local microbreweries.
The popularity of home brewing is largely attributed to pride in making a beer from scratch just like any other home craft be it recipe, art project, or any other home experiment. Most of us are wired to be creators at one extreme or another so creating a beer at home tickles the fancy for many of us. Aside from the pride of brewing beer at home, what then is the true beginners cost of brewing beer?
Home Brewing – Start Up Kits
The novice brewer can usually pick up a starter kit for beer brewing roughly in the neighborhood of around $100. The equipment will consist of five gallon bucket, hydrometer, sanitizer, and topper. This cost does not include bottles which will be quite expensive as you will be brewing a starting batch of about eight to ten six packs. Costs will be saved by retaining all the empties of past consumed microbrews. Home bottlers can only use bottle tops that do not have the screw tops such as those sold by the big macrobrewers such as Budweiser and Miller. Another area to save money would be to opt for making your home beer in small kegs or barrels. The keg process will not only save money, but time.
Home Brewing – Key Ingredients
So you purchase your starter brewing kit and bottles and have everything set up in the basement. Now you need to purchase the beer ingredients. If you are lucky your starter kit may have already included the ingredients such as the malts, yeasts, and hops. Here is where pricing your brew costs can vary. There are definite short cuts to brewing whether you plan on purchasing kits which the malts and grains are sold in extracts or buy your ingredients and prepare from scratch. Buying your hops, yeast, and malt ala cart and in raw form may be ideal for brewing purists, but beginners should stick to the kits until they get more comfortable with brewing. Most kits base a brewing batch on a five gallon bucket quantity. The five gallon bucket is going to produce roughly about eight six packs. Brewing supply stores whether brick and mortar or online retailers are going to sell standard ale kit ingredients for about $35 a batch. This batch will convert to about four dollars a six pack.
Home Brewing: Cost Per Six Pack
Okay the true cost of analyzing your cost of brewing a starting batch of beer is as follows. The cost of brewing equipment is roughly one hundred dollars. This cost cannot be added to just the first batch as it will be used over and over again. Consider this a start up cost for your hobby. Bottles can add significantly to your bottling costs if you do not have about fifty bottles to start up with. Again for sake of simplicity consider bottles a start up cost since home brewing involves retaining bottles to be used over and over again which will eventually deplete the cost. The cost of the ingredients however will cost $35 a batch or seventy three cents per bottle which is $4.38 per six back which is a far cry from the micro brewed pale ales that retail for about eight to nine dollars at the liquor store. The cost of brewing is well worth the expense.