It’s easy to get carried away with expensive equipment purchases once you start homebrewing, but brew day doesn’t have to be costly! Using these tips will help you offset those expensive equipment purchases and give you the expertise you need to make that delicious award-winning ale. Remember, having beer on hand will help you stay clear of the craft beer aisle and those costly (yet delicious) six-packs.
Quantity Price Breaks
There’s a few different ways to take advantage of the quantity breaks when purchasing supplies for all grain brewing. Look into your local homebrew clubs and organizations, they usually purchase enough grains to split up amongst the group. You can also talk to your local brewery, microbrewery, or brewpub. You may be able to convince the head brewer to add a few extra bags of grain onto their order and set them aside for you.
In my pursuit of finding cheap alternatives to homebrew kits. I’m realizing that to make a difference, you’re going to need to start buying in bulk. This is also when bags of grain or jugs of malt extract start to get heavy and unwieldy, causing the shipping prices to start becoming a factor.
Washing your yeast
You can reduce the cost of brewing by washing (reusing) your yeast instead of forking out up to $10 for a vial of liquid yeast every brewing session. The process involves saving yeast from a previously brewed beer when transferring to your secondary fermenter or bottling bucket. Use boiling water to sanitize a mason jar and it’s lid/ring. Fill the mason jar with the sanitized boiling water and allow it to cool to room temperature. Now siphon out your primary fermenter. Using your room temperature sanitized water, rinse the primary fermenter and allow it to settle. Now pour off the beer and yeast mixture back into your mason jar, try and leave the trub in your fermenter. Cap and shake your mason jar and store it in the fridge till your next brew day. It’s recommended to use a yeast starter when pitching into your next beer. Keep in mind this should be a similar beer style. Also don’t use too many generations of yeast or you’ll start getting strange flavors forming.
Growing your own Hops
While growing your own hops comes at the cost of labor, having a sustainable hop supply will keep your brew day costs down. The basic gist is to plant hop rhizomes (a piece of root from a mature plant) when spring starts to thaw the ground and days begin to warm up. Choose your hop variety, select a spot that gets plenty of sunlight, drains well and plant your rhizomes. Next, you’ll want to support the vines as they grow and plan a way to dry out your full grown hop plants unless you plan to use them immediately. Soon enough you will be able to produce and enjoy your very own homegrown homebrew.
Another great way to save money on a brew is to look for ingredients around the house or the grocery store. Add unique flavors to the party to complement your beer style or bring up the fermentable sugars to raise the ABV. The following items can be found around the house or cheaply in the grocery store:
- Dried Fruit
- Brown Sugar
- Natural Maple Syrup
Using these tips should help lower the costs on brewday, tell us what works for you below.