Elliott C. Back: Internet & Technology

Is Homebrewing Cheaper than Buying Beer?

Posted in Beer,Food by Elliott Back on January 14th, 2013.

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
  • Starsan
  • Hydrometer
  • Bottle Capper
  • Thermometer
  • Autosiphon
  • Tubing

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):

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.

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3 Responses to “Is Homebrewing Cheaper than Buying Beer?”

  1. 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.

  2. sanfay says:

    My sister makes her beer and we have a few friends that make theirs. Sounds like something I could get into.

  3. Mirco says:

    That sounds like fun. I would like to do that. I haven’t tried to brew beer yet, I only tried making wine with my parents when I was younger, shich was quite fun actually

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