One great benefits of home brewing is that you will drink better while saving 50% or more compared to what you would spend on craft beer, as shown in my previous post, explaining the itemized cost of making your own at home. Here we’ll review seven further ways to save money on home beer brewing supplies.
1. Use simple gear you already own and upgrade only when necessary
If you already own cooking equipment you can use for brewing purposes, you can save yourself the cost of several items.
My first brew kit came with a plastic fermenter, which I used a couple of times, but soon I realized that I preferred to actually see what was going on in the container during fermentation and also, I admit I don’t care for plastic too much as it gets scratched and become hard to sanitize. So I looked for a glass carboy, when I remembered we owned a 2.5 gallon glass beverage dispenser with spigot. That was perfect and I claimed that container to ferment my one gallon batches, . I just modified my glass beverage dispenser to accommodate the airlock, all I needed to do is drill a whole in the lid.
SAVING $27 for a similar size (3 Gallon) carboy
I also own a large (13″), stainless steel slotted spoon that I now use whenever I mash to make my wort.
2. Be creative with your equipment and with your set up
For those, like me, who like the BIAB (brew in a bag) method, instead of mashing in a cooler type container, such as a Rubbermaid 10-Gallon mash tun with thermometer, I use my 7.5 Gallon stainless kettle with a thermal blanket to keep the temperature for up to an hour.
In this picture I actually use a recycle thermal sheet from a wine container. I realize not everybody has access to items like this, unless you are in the wine business. However, quality Home Depot sell thermal blankets that are large will work perfectly for $18.
3. Go easy on the hops or grow them at home
Hops are not cheap. As you can see from the break down of the costs of home brewing ingredients and supplies in my recent post, hops accounts for 30% OF YOUR TOTAL COST TO MAKE AN IPA. Of course, if hop driven styles of beer is what you enjoy the most, you will need to use a fair amount. In the end, it will still save you money compared to buying your craft beer.
You will find the BEST ONLINE DEALS ON HOPS HERE. They have weekly specials.
Another solution is to start GROWING YOUR OWN HOPS. If you have the space (you actually don’t need a lot, since hops are a climbing species), and the time to garden a bit. There is a very satisfying feeling about using your homegrown plants.
The best way to store hops for an extended period of time is to freeze them, packed – to get rid of as much oxygen as you can, in an airtight packaging. Resealable Mylar pouches are great for that. The higher Alpha-acid the hop variety contains, the more antioxidant and the longer the hop can be kept without losing too much of its qualities.
4. Save 50% on yeast using dry instead of liquid
Yeast is the third most expensive ingredient for brewing, after the malt and the hops. It may account for up to 20% OF YOUR TOTAL COST.
A solution to save money on yeast is to USE DRY YEAST, can be HALF AS MUCH as LIQUID YEAST. About $5 compared to $9 for a 5-Gallon batch.
SAVING $5 PER 5-GALLON BATCH
The advantages of using dry yeast are
- It’s easier to use. You don’t need to prepare a starter, but you can if you wish to
- Dry yeast has a longer shelf life, up to 3 years when stored in the refrigerator
- The package can be kept safely at room temperature before opening
- It also “works” just as well as using liquid yeast to produce a great quality beer
Safale is the leading brand of dry yeast, and Lallemand, a close second.
On the downside, keep in mind
- Dry yeasts offer a more limited selection, as not all yeast strains can be dried
- No dry yeast is certified organic. The only organic yeast available (Imperial brand) is a liquid yeast
5. Can sodium percarbonate clean and sanitize at the same time?
Some brewers will argue with me and state that percarbonate is a cleaner and not a sanitizer. However, this eco-friendly chemical is a combination of sodium carbonate, which is soda ash and hydrogen peroxide. When mixed with water, the product breaks down into its constituent ingredients, the hydrogen peroxide acting as a powerful disinfectant, by bleaching or oxidizing germs and bacteria, and the sodium carbonate as a descaling or cleaning agent. When used at the correct concentration, SODIUM PERCARBONATE is actually, if used properly A DUAL PURPOSE, CLEANER AND A SANITIZER. Two products in one. One of the indispensable home beer brewing supplies. For more complete information on sanitation for home brewing, refer to this previous article.
Sodium percarbonate has become a very popular commercial cleaning and disinfecting product lately because of its simplicity, cost-effectiveness, non-toxic and environmentally-friendly. You will find it in brands such as Oxi-Clean and One Step Cleaner.
PBW – a powerful sodium percarbonate product, specially formulated for the home brewing market. Will leave no residue, even after an extended soak. $9 per Lb or $6.25 per Lb on 8 Lb.
Cost per 5-Gallon batch: $2
OXICLEAN – some swear by this option, because it is very inexpensive and widely available at any store. Choose the scent-free, because its purer, and safe to use for brewing. $2.65 per Lb on 3 Lb.
Cost per 5-Gallon batch: $0.85
Straight SODIUM PERCARBONATE – the real deal, 3 times more concentrated than OxiClean for $2.80 per Lb on 5 Lb. Note that the recommended time of contact to sanitize is 10 minutes or more in warm or cold water. I
Cost per 5-Gallon batch: $0.90
If you use a sanitizier such as STAR-SAN, one of the home brewers’ most popular choice, this will cost you $18 for 16 Fl.oz.
Cost per 5-Gallon batch: $1.12
Use SODIUM PERCARBONATE only instead of PBW + Star-San
YOU WILL SAVE $2.50 per 5-Gallon batch.
6. Enjoy the benefits of joining a brewing club and rent for free
My local brewing club, Club Wort in Palatine, IL offers FREE ACCESS TO EQUIPMENT for members to use.
Another perk of being a member is to GET DISCOUNTS AT HOME BREW SUPPLY SHOPS.
On top of the financial benefit, being able to borrow for free, you will have access to the knowledge of brewers with lots of experience, and other resources such as a book library.
As far as I am concerned I joined the club for the monthly meeting at the pub. LOL.
7. Shop for bargains online and save
Every online home brew supply retailer will have pages of items on sale. MoreBeer! always have GREAT DEALS ON EVERYTHING, ingredients and equipment too. You will find hundred of items at deeply discounted prices.
There are many more green ways to save money …
These are easy tips to save you money quickly on your next batch or beer. More ways include building your own equipment which will be discussed in this blog, or strategies to buy ingredients in group … a few of which were listed in this article.
I hope you find these 7 tips useful.
Feel free to also leave any comments you may have below.
Cheers, and to our health!