How to Homebrew
How to Home Brew
Home brewing is a beautiful thing. If you’ve been known to enjoy a pale ale with a burrito or an Irish stout with just about anything (I’m not talking about cheap watered-down commercialized beer here), recent hikes in food and drink prices have hit you especially hard.
In the past year or so, I’ve noticed the prices of a few of my favorites beers jumping from about $6.99 per six pack to $8.99, an increase of almost 30%! Bars and restaurants are even going so far as to decrease the size of their pints to compensate (blasphemy). But before we get into the virtues of learning how to home brew, let’s first take a look at how we got in this predicament.
Why Have Beer Prices Increased?
Let’s thank the current administration for yet another consequence of pushing inefficient ethanol on the market – a rise in beer prices. With ethanol in high demand, corn has become highly profitable for farmers to grow. As a result all food prices have gone up as more of the country’s farm acreage has been devoted to corn for ethanol production.
With corn being so profitable, growers of hops and barley (two major beer components) have devoted less acreage to these wonderful species, driving production costs upward. Throw in the increase in transportation costs, and you have a perfect storm for a rise in beer prices.
How to Cut your Beer Expenses by Home Brewing
You have two options here. First, you could choose to drastically cut down on your beer intake by finding other ways to cool down on a hot summer’s day, repay your friend for manual labor help, relax after work, or wash down a spicy meal. The other option is to maintain your lifestyle, but fight back with a vengeance. Fight back with the knowledge and power of home brewing!
How Much Can Home Brewing Save you?
Let’s run some math:
- A common batch of home brewed beer is typically 5 gallons of beer.
- One gallon equals 128 ounces.
- One store bought beer equals 12 ounces.
- 5 gallons of beer equals 53 beers, just less than 9 six packs.
- A six pack of good beer will cost you $9.
- 9 six packs of beer would cost you $81.
How Much Would 9 Six Packs of Home Brew Cost?
There are some startup costs to home brewing. Home brewing supplies (not including ingredients) will cost you around $60. These supplies include a fermenting pale, airlock, siphon, spigot, capper, and a few other things which are most often included in a supply kit. Once you have your supplies, you have a few options. You can either buy your own ingredients or simply buy an ingredient kit. Ingredient kits will cost you about $30 and with added water, you’ll get your 5 gallons of beer. Of course, there is the expense of fueling the flame to brew your beer, but this shouldn’t cost you more than a dollar or two. Total cost per batch – right around $30.
Continuing with our math, you’re saving about $50 (roughly 63%) every time you home brew. Your supply kit would be paid off on the first few beers of your second brew session. If your household averages 1 consumed beer per day, you’d be saving $345 annually! But money isn’t the only thing you’ll be gaining through home brewing.
Lifestyle Benefits to Home Brewing
- You’re developing a new skill and hobby
- You can share in this hobby with your significant other, friends, and children (if they’re old enough)
- You develop confidence in knowing that you can provide for yourself and family
- Your beer will taste great! Home brewed beers have natural carbonation from live yeast versus artificially added carbon, giving you more of the natural flavor of the beer
- Your friends will want to come over more often to try your home brew
- You can give away your home brew on special occasions as a ‘gift made from the heart’
- You know how fresh it is versus never really knowing the age of store bought beer
- No more annoying bottle returns, just re-use what you have
- You can experiment with your own concoctions
- Life’s too fast, home brewing will help you slow it down a little
What you Need to Homebrew: Homebrewing Equipment
First you may want to read up on HomeBrewing to see if it’s something you’re interested in before you spend the money on a kit and ingredients. If you’re looking for an old fashion classic book to read, one classic is The Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charles Papazian, a nuclear engineer turned homebrewer.
Also, some good home brew websites:
- howtobrew.com – includes instructions on how to get started
- byo.com – home of Brew Your Own Magazine
- homebrewtalk.com – a home brewing forum
- homebrewersassociation.org – American Home Brewers Association site
If you think home brewing is for you, look around for a local retailer to purchase your home brewing kit. If you can’t find one, you can find plenty of websites that sell them. Party supply stores and anyone who has a wide selection of beer and wine goods are good places to start. Separate from your supply kit, you’ll have to find a steel pot to brew in and a ladel. You’ll also need to pick up your ingredients. For your first batch, I’d recommend simply going with an ingredient kit.
Best of luck in your home brewing adventures!
Home Brew Discussion
- If you’ve home brewed, what’s your favorite part of it?
- If you haven’t home brewed, do you want to start? If not, what’s stopping you?