My brother bought me a Brew in a Bag (BIAB) grains IPA kit for Christmas, and I had a lot of fun making and fermenting the beer, which I tweaked a little with a fresh mint twist. We have yet to see how well it comes out, as it’s currently sitting on its yeast for at least the rest of the week, then priming sugar + bottling, a couple weeks of rest, and finally it will be drinkable. It’s a little one-gallon kit, and my yield is probably hurt by my small stovetop pot. I might only get 10 bottles out of it.
Extracting sugars, the hops, and the final fermenting setup
I’m wondering now–how much would it cost to buy basic equipment to make a 5-gallon batch? Here’s what you need:
- 7 gallon Brewing pot
- Muslin bag
- 6.5 Gallon Carboy w/Airlock
- Bottle Capper
I can buy everything except the brewing pot for $90 at our local store, the pot runs $80 but it’s a nice 7.5 gallon size. So far, just investing in basic equipment, we are at $170 in startup costs.
Then for a recipe and point of comparison, we’ll look at a Nugget Nectar clone, pricing it retail at $13/6-pack (this is NYC sadly):
- 6.5 lbs Continental Pils Malt: $18
- 7.0 lbs Munich Malt: $16
- 5.0 oz Crystal 120L: $2
- 1.00 oz 13%aa Nugget 60′: $2
- 0.50 oz 13%aa Simcoe 30′: $2.5
- 1.00 oz 16%aa Warrior 20′ $2.5
- 1.25 oz 16%aa Tomahawk 0′ or hopback: $2.25
- 1.00 oz 8%aa Palisade 0′ or hopback: $2
- 1.00 oz 13%aa Simcoe DH: $2.5
- 1.00 oz 8%aa Palisade DH: $2
- Cal-Ale Yeast: $7
The total cost of this recipe is $58.75 or about $60, for 54 bottles of beer. So, about $1.10 per bottle. Whereas, buying 54 bottles in store in NYC costs about $117, or $2.1 a bottle. By making your own beer, you can save a dollar a bottle, and enjoy the process!
I’m actually a bit surprised that that malt is that expensive, perhaps there’s a better source?
To make back your startup costs of $170 you’ll need to brew at least 2 full five-gallon batches. After that, you’re in profitable territory! And some of the items, such as yeast, or large bulk orders of hops, can be used for multiple sessions, further driving down costs. I wouldn’t be surprised to see under a dollar a bottle if you bought in bulk.
Update: I should multiple pricing on the DME by .75 to get the equivalent grains ratio, which would give me $8.5 off the batch, for $50 even or $.93 a bottle, for a savings of $67. If I did all-grains, the price would be another 20% lower.
You can accomplish this in a few simple steps:
- Add ice cubes to a tall glass
- Fill 3/4 with ginger beer
- Top off with dark rum
- Stir until the rum storms down to the bottom
Don’t over stir it! You want the rum / ginger beer mixture to be ununiform and chaotic, representing the stormy nature of the drink.
Last Tuesday (May 17th, 2011) I went to one of the free Macallan scotch whisky tastings at Milk Studios in NYC to try the whisky, see which variety is my favourite, and take a few photos. Hosting the event was Macallan Ambassador Jay Liddell, who during the evening drank copious amounts of Macallan product and regaled us through their PR presentation about the history of scotch, and how Macallan is made in a way that sets it apart from its competitors.
At the beginning we were given a golden token, which we could redeem at the bar for a dram of Macallan 10 yro to get us started. Nowhere near my favourite, a bit rough up front, and generally lacking in complexity, it nonetheless paves the way for better to come.
We tasted, in order, the following scotches:
- 12 yr sherry oak – sickly sweet, this was nonetheless the favourite of the ladies sitting at my table. The sherry casks impart a smoothness that goes a long way in introducing whisky to an audience who only tastes 80 proof liquor when doing shots.
- 15 yr fine oak – my personal favourite, less sweet and richer, raisin-oak and syrup with a warm lingering finish. Affordably priced under $90, it’s easy to find a bottle to enjoy.
- 17 yr fine oak – too much time in the barrel left the 17 year old feeling thick and syrupy, with little complexity and a flat finish. I would not recommend this bottle, especially at the $125 price point.
- 18 yr fine oak – here we have a problem, as the tasting at the Macallan event was sedimentary and contaminated with dishsoap or some other ingredient lingering in the glasses. However, I have a bottle of this at home, and it is a much smoother version of the 15 year old, retaining much of the complexity.
I also enjoyed the presentation, as I didn’t know what the “fine oak” line of Macallan whiskies meant. Apparently, the scotch is triple cask matured in Spanish Sherry seasoned oak casks, American Sherry seasoned oak casks and American Bourbon casks, before being vatted together for bottling. This gives it a much smoother palate compared to single wood scotches, and yet it’s still considered a pure single malt. You might be interested in reading more on what aging in wood does for whisky, and which ages drinkers seem to prefer.
You can look for free Macallan events in your area, I recommend attending to find out which of the Macallan scotches are your favourite! It’s a far better way to try a bit of scotch than dropping $10-20 a dram at the bar.