Homebrewing – Is It Cost Effective?

Here in the United States, standing in front of all the six packs of your favorite craft beer, you may wonder if spending anywhere from 8 to 12 dollars per six pack of bottled beer is worth the money. If you are feeling the pinch in your wallet but you just don’t want to give up your favorite libations, it may be time to consider brewing your OWN beer. But is it worth it financially in the end?

Lets compare. To simplify the process I’ll make a few assumptions. 1. I will assume you already have the equipment. 2. I will be assuming you are using a kit for extract brewing. These kits can cost anywhere from $25.00 to $60.00. Northern Brewer for instance has an American Wheat Beer extract kit that is about $27.00.  So for $27.00 you get the grain, the extract, the yeast, and the priming sugar necessary to make five gallons of beer.

A six pack of craft beer is approximately $8.00 here in Oregon. That’s 6 – 12oz bottles.

With 640oz in 5 gallons, you get about 54 -12oz bottles in five gallons of homebrew. That’s about 9 six packs of beer.

If you were to go to the store to pick up 9 six packs of beer, at $8.00 per six pack you’d pay a whopping $72.00.  That’s not counting any bottle deposit that your state might have.

Now, owing to spillage, evaporation, etc. I usually get about 48 bottles out of a whole 5 gallons of homebrew. That’s still 8 six packs of beer and at the store you’d pay $64.00 for those six packs. Even if you paid a top class price of $60.00 for a single five gallon brewing kit, you’d be coming out ahead. You can do these comparisons for your own area. Simply compare the cost of brewing a kit that you can get to the cost of purchasing the same amount of beer.

Your real cost is your initial investment in the equipment itself. After that comes the cost of your time. It takes a few hours for me to brew an extract batch of beer and get it into the fermenter. Not too bad. If you do anything other than extract brewing, you might spend a little less on a kit, but a little more in time brewing that batch. The real work involved is cleaning. Everything must be very clean to brew your beer and that means fermenting bucket, and everything that touches your beer after it is cooled off from the boil. Every bottle needs to be thoroughly washed and sanitized before being filled after your beer is fermented. This can be very tedious and you may come to the conclusion that either this is just not for you, or you need a simpler way to store your beer! Luckily there is kegging and various equipment for kegging that may make the process quite a bit simpler for you.

There are various sites on the internet that can provide you with the basic equipment to start brewing. Northern Brewer, Austin Homebrewing Supply, Adventures in Homebrewing, Midwest Supplies, Craft A Brew, Label Peelers, Brewer’s Best, and even the one you may see in your local Bed Bath & Beyond, “Mr Beer”.  Also, don’t count out your local brewing supply store. Not only can you get quality advice on a moments notice from people who have experience, but if you pick up your equipment from them, you don’t pay shipping.

Each site is a little different from the next and have different prices, but no matter which site you choose, you could very easily get going from this:

to this

and be happy not to have to pinch your wallet every time you reach for a glass.

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