Brew Files Episode 73 - Pinch Pennies Wisely

Common wisdom dictates that trying to save money by brewing beer is a fool’s errand like buying a boat to save on fish, but we’re here to tell you that there are a few ways you can maximize your savings while still enjoying high quality beer. We’re not about minmaxing here - just reminding you as your beer needs increase around the holidays, it’s perfectly easy to pinch some pennies and enjoy a beer!

Value engineering is the term for being clever and cheap at the same time. I’m drinking a 50cent a bottle Saison right now that is better than 90% of the $2-$4 Saisons out there.


$2-4 a bottle seems cheap

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Comparing per-bottle cost between home-brew and commercial beer helped me justify the cost of getting into home brewing in the first place. Even though it wasn’t a ton of money. It was still an optional expense. Being able to calculate what the Return on Investment (ROI) helped me justify the purchases. Plus, I can now tell my wife that I’m brewing this weekend not because I want, but that I have to so I can save us some money!" :laughing: I don’t do that calculation anymore because any purchases now are to make brewing easier or more fun but, not really to make it cheaper or better.

Now onto the podcast…which are almost always awesome! Thanks @denny and Drew!

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I understand your thinking here… but how much cost do you have in equipment? That needs to be factored into the ‘cost per bottle’ that you mentioned. Sadly, buying commercial examples is still cheaper than buying equipment, buying ingredients, YOUR TIME, etc. But, if you consider the hobby part of it… totally worth it.

Well of course @loopie_beer . Still… I BIAB and work with minimal equipment I’d say I’m still out ahead there honestly being that I’ve made over 100 batches with the same gear. The real added hidden cost is that NYC real-estate prices are sky high. The square feet I devote to my fermenting cabinet and other brewing storage is theoretically $25-35 per month regardless of whether or not I’m brewing

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I don’t buy at the bar very often, $6 poured pint is rare here. $8 is average There is a lot of good beer in the $12 -$15 per sixpack range at the corner stores. I have 4 corner stores and a grocery store on my block. There used to be 6 corner stores on my block 2 of them being right next to each other LOL

Not having listened to this podcast yet, my factor when I started in 2001 was imbibing New Castle brown ale… Each bottle, just over a pint, cost 3 bucks… So I could brew a faux or copy of it for just over 10.00 bucks and bottle 30 of those bottles… There is my carrot in front of this plow horse… And it’s not a pony tail… That’s for show ponies… It’s a Clydestail… Sneezles61

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@loopie_beer, in the short term, you are correct. Commercial beer is cheaper. But after a year or two or three, you pass your ROI and it them becomes cheaper to brew to brew your own. My initial all-grain setup was about $300. The beer style I mostly drink is Irish Red which costs about $1.25 per bottle. I can brew an Irish Red for about 45 cents per bottle. So I’m saving 80 cents per bottle. My investment ($300) divided by savings per bottle ($0.80) equals ROI (375 bottles). So after 375 bottles of beer it became cheaper to brew my own beer.

As stated in the Episode my real savings are when I make something fancy. An equivalent to the kriek I make is close to $30 a liter and I’m a tenth of that.

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Overall I just enjoy the process. It’s fun. Is it cheaper? Just raw ingredients (grain, hops, yeast) not including consumables (water, sanitizer, ect.) sure. Adding how much your time is worth not so much. My calculations with my “hourly rate” put me around average six pack of craft beer $8-9 range.

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How can you put an “hourly rate” on a hobby? I love brewing, so my hourly rate is $0.00.

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I don’t but if I’m trying to convince myself it’s cheaper to brew my own then it’s a factor.

I used to think that way, but I no longer do. I realized that I don’t work all the time, so it’s silly to charge my time as if I do.

If your taking time off from your paying job sure calculate it. But if your doing it for leisure it’s kind of like not going for a walk because it’s costing you money

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Everyone values their time differently

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True some people see everything in dollars and cents I collect happiness points. :smile:

I definitely like to observe what I spend on a batch and later decide if extras here and there were worth it.