Author Topic: Cost of our Passion  (Read 1484 times)

Offline Beery

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Cost of our Passion
« on: May 09, 2018, 09:39:52 PM »
I am not brewing beer because I cannot afford to buy it, but nevertheless I always figured the ingredients for a 5 gallon batch should cost considerably less than buying the equivalent amount of beer at the grocery store. I recently switched from extract to all grain which really is an ingredients savings, but still, at my local home brew store hops are 2.50 - 3.50 and ounce, so a big IPA hops bill could easily be 25 - 30 bucks alone. Yeast is 7.75 or so a pack, and they stock almost no dry yeast which I actually prefer. Base malt at 1.60.... is this what you all are used to paying? What do you do to save a few bucks on ingredients?  Online I see hops by the pound at a considerable savings. Does it store well?

Thoughts about ingredient costs and ways to save?

In the bottle: Juicy Werks NEIPA clone.
In the fermenter:  Weissbier

Offline BOB357

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Re: Cost of our Passion
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2018, 05:16:19 AM »
Those prices sound pretty high. Many of the on line suppliers have much better prices and offer either reasonable flat rate shipping or free shipping on orders over a certain dollar amount.

I buy hops by the pound and usually pay between $10 and $18 per lb. Yakima Valley Hops offers USPS flat rate shipping for up to 4 lbs. of pellets for $7. There are suppliers with lower prices, but with their shipping rates they are often more costly. 

I pay well under $1 / lb. for base malt by the sack from my LHBS. See if you can negotiate a reasonable price on sacks from your supplier. All on line suppliers charge actual shipping cost for sacks, which is high enough that you can find the same grain cheaper by the pound. I used to buy from More Beer and paid about $1.05/lb. for 10 lbs. of 2-row. They do charge a little extra for milling, but offer free shipping for orders over $59.

I generally use dry yeast and my LHBS doesn't have much of a variety either. When I do order anything from on line suppliers I check on their dry yeast and if they have what I want I'll order several packets. As a rule that will add little or nothing to shipping cost of the order.

You need to shop around. Even though I do well price wise, I still shop around for deals. There are a bunch of on line suppliers with reasonable prices, and if you order wisely you can get free, or very reasonable, shipping that doesn't raise your unit cost much at all.



 
Bob

Offline Oginme

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Re: Cost of our Passion
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2018, 07:16:03 AM »
Bob357 hit most of the high points.  I will add a few that helped me bring prices down and, at least for me, made the process more enjoyable.  My last brew season running from November to April my cost per bottle was US$ 0.48 per 12 oz bottle.  That is pretty much an all-in pricing including cost of equipment, but not energy (electric, propane)

(1) bulk purchases of base malts and buying specialty malts by the pound instead of by the recipe made some significant impact.  Like BOB357, by base malt cost is less than US$ 1.00 per pound.  I purchase Crisp Maris Otter, Weyermann Pilsner, and Rahr 2-row to accommodate the majority of my base malt needs

(2) I personally have not used dry yeast in a number of years.  It is definitely cheaper than liquid yeast, but the variety I find in the liquid yeast is far more appealing to me as a recipe builder.  To maximize value from the liquid yeast, I stage my brewing schedule up a few months ahead of time and take advantage of reusing or pitching the same yeast strain for multiple recipes.  For instance, this past winter I made 12 batches of lagers using 3 packs of yeast.  This was a combination of overbuilding starters and repitching rinsed yeast cake.  My cost for yeast is US$ 3.44 per pitch which includes cost of DME and yeast nutrient for starters.  Pretty comparable to cost for dry yeast.

(3) Hops in bulk or semi-bulk.  Workhorse hops I purchase by the pound.  This generally brings the cost down quite a bit. So when I am using a lot of Hallertau, Mosaic, East Kent Gouldings, Citra, and Saaz, it makes sense to purchase these in quantity.  Other hops I purchase in 4 oz packages which is also a good discount from single ounce pricing.  Hops keep very well in the freezer in vacuum sealed bags. 

(4) Keep your process simple.  I have a ton of equipment due to changes I made starting out.  I progressed from extract to all-grain BIAB in 5 brews and was moving towards 5-gal batches.  Most of the equipment I purchased used which sometimes worked out and sometimes not (I will not purchase used plastic buckets again unless I am not going to be using them for fermenting).  I have a nice mash tun that I drag out two or three times a year, but the majority of my brewing is full volume BIAB.  It saves on time, energy, and money.

Hope this helps!
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Offline Beery

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Re: Cost of our Passion
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2018, 07:28:09 AM »
Thank you both, your suggestions are very helpful. I have had some folks "guilt" me for not shopping my local store but the last time I went in the sticker shock for ingredients and gear was too high. I'd be willing to pay +10% or so to shop local but not 25%.  I just started using a FastFerment so harvesting yeast is on my "learn-how" list.
Thanks again to both of you. :D
In the bottle: Juicy Werks NEIPA clone.
In the fermenter:  Weissbier

Offline Oginme

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Re: Cost of our Passion
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2018, 07:44:20 AM »
I probably should have mentioned that I do buy my grains and yeast at my local HBS.  The prices are comparable to on-line in most cases and the owner stocks enough bags of malt so there is always a bag of base malt available.  Yeast prices are reasonable and I hate the prospect of shipping yeast, especially when no one may be home to receive it and care for it properly.  My LHBS owner has admitted to me that he doesn't actually get a big mark-up on the hops and so only sells in 1 ounce bags or 1 lbs bags for a few select hops (mostly dry whole hops), so those I get on-line.  One of my favorites for hops is Farmhouse Brewing Supply (http://www.farmhousebrewingsupply.com/).

Recycle your grains, feed them to a goat!

Offline brewfun

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Re: Cost of our Passion
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2018, 07:49:44 AM »
Just a note in favor of the LHBS, here.

The people running most homebrew shops do it for passion more than money. Try to buy what you can from them. However, they're still business people. If you're ok with 10% more than the online price, ask the shop keeper to match that price. You may find that they have lots of discounts available for club or AHA membership and even a loyal customer discount.

A shop I know will let customers buy a 50 lb "bag" of pale or pilsner malt at a steep discount. The customer can then just get any recipe quantity they want, when they need it, and their record is updated. That way, no matter how long it takes to get used up, the customer doesn't have to store or use stale milled grain and the business retains a customer.

One thing that goes very far with them is bringing in some of your BEST beers to taste. Nearly the only beer they get from customers is "I don't know what went wrong...." Too often, the shop owner is used for free advice without buying merchandise.
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Offline jomebrew

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Re: Cost of our Passion
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2018, 08:51:55 AM »
I shop most ingredients at my local homebrew shop, Morebeer.  I buy base grains by the sack and store them in a big food safe bucket and specialty grains from their open  bins.  I buy most hops in bulk from suppliers on Amazon, Ebay or places like hops direct.  I like to look for sales.   I keep them in my beer kegerator/freezer at 35F.    They last a couple years though I use them long before that.  One big DIPA can take 1/2 lb hops.

I also use my AHA discount where ever I can.

« Last Edit: May 10, 2018, 04:41:20 PM by jomebrew »

Offline jtoots

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Re: Cost of our Passion
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2018, 09:16:04 AM »
In Boston I'm paying about the same amount as you on grains and yeast, but much less on hops... And even paying less for hops, I agree that a hop bomb is much much more expensive than a hefe or whatever.

So I'm going to begin buying my hops online in some cases, but I still like to get my grains and yeast fresh for every batch rather than reuse yeast or buy grains in bulk. 

Offline Ck27

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Re: Cost of our Passion
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2018, 10:15:35 PM »
At my local shop, I pay about $1.10 for base us 2 row malt, the most expensive malt in the entire shop is like $2.50

Liquid yeast is $ 8

Dry beer yeast is $3.50

Dry Wine yeast is $1.00

Hops from $3.00 for 2 ounces to $5.00 for rarer hops.

But i do order some stuff online that i cannot get and usually order from one of the following places

MoreBeer
Williams Brewing
Keystone Homebrew
Austin Homebrew

Offline Beery

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Re: Cost of our Passion
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2018, 09:52:25 AM »
Thanks again for all the comments. I just ordered Amarillo,  Cascade and Citra 1 lb packages on sale for $10 - 15 each representing a huge savings over my LHBS, so I can brew some big IPA's. I discovered that sale by following http://www.homebrewfinds.com/ Meanwhile I'll be going to my LHBS today to buy ingredients for a Hefe, and I need a new bottle filler. So in the long run I'll never completely abandon my LHBS.
In the bottle: Juicy Werks NEIPA clone.
In the fermenter:  Weissbier

Offline Ck27

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Re: Cost of our Passion
« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2018, 11:24:18 AM »
My local shop is reasonable, I pay about $1.20 per pound for us 2 row malt, all the base malts are under $2.00. Most specialty are as well. Hops are $4.00-4.50 per 2 ounce packs. Liquid yeast is $8.00, dry yeast is 3-4.00. wine yeast is $1.50.

My local shop is reasonable. I shop at it so much I joked you guys should hire me since I'm literally at the store 5 days a week for stuff... Yeah I go a lot.

Offline omots

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Re: Cost of our Passion
« Reply #11 on: May 26, 2018, 08:38:52 AM »
I have been brewing for about 8 years, started with extract, switched to whole grain about 6 years ago. While I find it interesting that most home brewers always compare their costs to the cost of an equivalent beer purchased at their favorite beverage distributor, they fail to consider the difference between the amount of grains they buy and the massive quantities the big brewers buy. No question, your costs will be higher. I find, my average cost to brew a high caliber clone of say Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is about the same as buying the real thing from my liquor store, and, I have had the pleasure of making it. (BTW, always very close to the real deal in flavor and color). You clearly have never been in business for yourself, it is impossible to have a brick and mortar storefront with knowledgeable staff at 10%. As a minimum, 30-40% GP would be the norm. I have supported my local shop where, as an example, last week I walked in 10 minutes before they closed and walked out with all the ingredients I was looking for, and, had a pleasant conversation with the incredibly knowledgeable owners. As one other post mentioned, you can often get a whole sack at a discounted price from your local shop, perhaps you should split it with a friend? Stored reasonably well, it will last quite a long time. I am president of a large local brew club (established 30 years ago!), I would suggest you join a club if you haven't already, you will gain knowledge and find friends to share your grain purchases with. Happy brewing and Cheers!

Offline Beery

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Re: Cost of our Passion
« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2018, 01:43:24 PM »
I enjoy the camaraderie and knowledge a my LHBS, and if I had the money I would buy everything there. But coming off a recent financial hardship from a lengthy unemployment, I have to pinch the pennies pretty hard.
Good point about the cost of home brew vs. retail. When I first brewed years ago, that was foremost in my mind as well, but I was extract brewing and never met the desired cost point. Now that I am all grain, I have't thought about it much, but curious enough now to start adding the materials cost in BeerSmith.
In the bottle: Juicy Werks NEIPA clone.
In the fermenter:  Weissbier

Offline BILLY BREW

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Re: Cost of our Passion
« Reply #13 on: June 21, 2018, 10:54:40 AM »
Late to the conversation, but one thing that can keep your cost down a bit is to double batch. Plan two batches and use the yeast cake from the first for the second. Advantages are that you don't spend the $9 for WYeast and you can brew a bigger beer for the second batch (which will cost you considerably more to buy in your local grocery store.
Anther area, if possible, start growing your own hops. The stuff grows like a weed. I planted 1 rhizome 3 years ago. I got 5 lbs wet last year and expect to double that amount for this year. Granted all centennial, but it has made for some really great beers!
But the long and the short for me is that it is my hobby and passion. It is a whole lot cheaper than golf!
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Offline adam01

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Re: Cost of our Passion
« Reply #14 on: July 11, 2018, 01:51:09 PM »

Seems my costs per 5gal brew are a bit less than $30. Craft beer by me goes $14-20 a 12 pack (or 2 - 6 packs).

That is a win if I'm brewing what I expected/want to drink.

But it seems I've thrown away a batch a year, or so. so costs go up a bit for that.