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Does anyone brew their own beer?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by JDC1, Aug 18, 2011.

  1. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

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    Keep an eye out on Craigs list for equipment - for $80 I got 3 glass carboys (one 5 gallon and two 6 gallons for wine), bottling bucket, primary bucket, bottle drying stand, brushes, siphon and assorted tubes, and an unopened packet of bottle caps. I view the equipment as a sunk cost and when I compare the cost of a a kit from Northern Brewer, usually around $30 with liquid yeast, I am definetly saving money over purchasing from the store.

    Incidentally, an Irish Draught went into primary yesterday .....

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  2. homebrewz

    homebrewz Minister of Fire

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    I'd be leery about having a multi-tasking pot. I've long been of the belief that its better to have a dedicated brew-pot. You might be risking off-flavors in your finished product.
    A lot of folks scrounge old 1/4 and 1/2 kegs. They're stainless, frequently come with handles, and it used to be that you could find someone with an old keg in the back of the garage that no one returned after the party. These days, with keg registration laws and scrap metal prices, if you can find one I'd offer them a few bucks for it. I've also seen some on craigslist. I have two 1/2 kegs which I use for lautering and boiling. After we VENTED each keg with a tap (very important!) I traded someone some homebrew to drill a hole in the top and cut the top off with a sawz-all (can't use a torch.. makes splatter). You can find someone who welds stainless to attach any fittings you may want.
  3. Black Jaque Janaviac

    Black Jaque Janaviac Feeling the Heat

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    I tried explaining to my wife that the more homebrew I drank the more money we'd save but she just didn't buy it. Women can be so irrational!

    No you don't brew cheaper beer by using malt extracts. You DO brew beer cheaper by steeping the malted grains. And a Victoria grain mill will pay for itself reasonably quick if you buy that malted grain in bulk.

    My brewing set-up is partly inhereted from my Pa, part garage sale items, part things laying around, and just a few items purchased specifically for brewing. I like the fact that I inhereted the carboy 'cuz I can claim my brewing is "tradition".

    If I don't calculate the cost of equipment I figured out that I can brew beer for as cheap as the cheap-o beer on the grocery store shelves - except the beer I'm brewing is as good as the high-dollar Gucci beer.

    I only brewed one malt extract batch and then learned how I could get into all-grain merely by purchasing a braided stainless steel hose, some hose clamps, and a couple feet of tubing (under $20). I had a 48 qt cooler on hand already. So I made the mash lauter tun with that and the braided SS.

    Another thing you can do to reduce costs that is fairly simple is to save the yeast from batch to batch. So a $4 packet of yeast can be stretched through 3 or 4 batches of beer.

    Oh, and I do not save money by drinking beer at all. I DO drink top quality beer on a shoe-string budget, and I can afford to share with guests.
    SmokeyTheBear likes this.
  4. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    I'm going to go with a stainless pot sans fittings. I will add fittings later if needed/wanted.
  5. JDC1

    JDC1 Feeling the Heat

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    Its pretty cool that the people who like good craft beer get excited about homebrew. My friends that drink light BMC beer do not want to even try it. They have some assumption that beer made in a factory is better. Drinking homebrew next to a busch light is similar to eating a homemade/small bakery cake vs. something you would buy at Walmart. They are both edible but there is a definite taste difference.
  6. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    Kind of like heating with wood.....if you paid yourself minimum wage for the time you spend brewing it probably never saves money. ha.
  7. Black Jaque Janaviac

    Black Jaque Janaviac Feeling the Heat

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    I've never bought into the logic of calculating my time in on a hobby's expense. If that were the case I would never leave the office because I make the most money per hour there than I do anywhere else. But I can't have my children around at the office. They do however go along to cut wood and often pester me with questions as I brew.
    SmokeyTheBear likes this.
  8. pyper

    pyper New Member

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    Actually, you'll have spent $200 by the time you've started. When it comes to homebrewing, most people are never really "done." Maybe you're different, but for most people there's always at least one more thing to get ;-)

    As far as a multi-pot, I don't think I would. Too easy to get something into your beer that you don't want there. If you get serious into homebrewing, you'll need more than one pot anyway. I used to use three -- one to heat water, one to mash, and one to boil, and I'd have all three going at once. But there I go with the "at least one more thing" bit.

    It's a lot of fun though. If you can get into it for a price you can afford, definitely give it a go.
    SmokeyTheBear likes this.
  9. Morgan

    Morgan Member

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    Wait till you go from brewing and bottling to brewing and kegging, that is expensive to get into, but SO much better than bottling, I currently have 4 kegs in a converted deep freezer to beer fridge with just picnic taps (to cheap to go with nice counter mounted stainless taps) I just lift the lid and pour a glass. I don't do my own boils though, I stick with the brewhouse kits, they make a very drinkable beer, and are very easy and quick to put together, leaving me more time for my other alcohol making hobby, which costs even more, 3" copper is expensive, but the product is just so darn tasty and clean, unfortunately in most parts unless your lucky enough to live in NZ its illegal :(
    SmokeyTheBear likes this.
  10. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Using a turkey fryer kit and all glass carboys I am at about 100$ in equipment to do malt extract or partial mash batches. I haven't done all-grain but I'm sure the cost in equipment isn't too much higher. I think you guys are either buying specialty equipment at a very expensive outlet or are buying too much of the wrong and maybe unnecessary stuff.

    My local homebrew shop seems to have a small profit margin. LME comes from a big ol' barrel in the back, grain from bulk containers, and he mills it for you as he makes up your order. My batches cost from 20-40$ depending on the hop load. That gets me 5 gallons and the cost per beer is less than the cheap canned stuff at the store. Don't include equipment or labor cost with something like this.

    Life is too short to drink only the canned junk. I will admit that the canned stuff is more suitable for certain activities or for when you aren't tasting anything anyways. Don't want to waste the good stuff.
  11. Black Jaque Janaviac

    Black Jaque Janaviac Feeling the Heat

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    Highbeam, do you fry turkeys at all? If you do then it might not be fair to count the cost of the turkey frier against the home brewing expenses.

    So much of what I use has other uses or came into the house for other purposes and then got reassigned to homebrew duty.
  12. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I've never fried a turkey in it. I did use it for a big corn boil once. Also to blanch green beans before freezing. Anytime I need to make a lot of hot water, it is there for use.

    My first few batches were boiled in a borrowed turkey fryer that my motherinlaw used to store cat food. I had to put in some serious elbow grease to remove the layer of fat/oil that is present on pet food and had coated the pot.

    Oh yeah, I once used the fryer to scald 26 dead chickens before plucking them. So that was about the nastiest thing I've ever done in a turkey fryer but it worked great!
  13. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

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    My biggest single expense when I went all grain was a mill. The 10gal Igloo I used for a mash tun came from a garage sale for $10, 10 gal Rubbermaid for a hot liquor tank was given to me, two Sanke kegs came from the scrap bin at the beer distributor where a friend worked, the turkey fryer was a gift, my bench capper was really old and given to me as well, and I made my own wort chiller. The only things I paid full retail for were the mill, two carboys, a Better Bottle and various valves and fittings. The mill was a good investment, as my efficiencies went from the upper sixties to the mid eighties, just due to the better crush vs the LHBS. All together, I had a little over $200 in equipment, and was able to brew 12-13 gallon batches for $30-40, depending on hops, yeast, and OG.
  14. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    Digging up an old thread:

    4 months later and I've got 7 beers on my belt (I say on my belt because I've gained 10 lbs. Hopefully I get bored of this!)

    I added it up and by hustling a few parts here and there I was able to save some money(bottles, a wort chiller, couple fermenters) All in all I spent about $600 to get from a free Mr. Beer kit to doing BIAB all-grain batches.

    1 SS 10 gallon pot with added dip tube, valve and cam fittings $150
    Outdoor burner $60
    Bottle washer and drying tree (makes bottling less of a chore) $40
    SS wort chiller +hose fittings $40
    Original TrueBrew kit $150
    160 bomber bottles from a guy who quit drinking (hope they're not cursed!) $50
    Extra fermenting buckets $20
    Extra hoses, hydrometer (broke) clamps, brew bag, hops bag, digital scale, and stuff $100

    All added over the last 4 months or so. Not too expensive a hobby and it doesn’t take up more than 1/2 a closet. I'm saving money at this point, probably 10 bucks a week. I'm going to stick with the 1 pot 1 vessel plan. Maybe a 5g cooler to hold strike water but I'm not going any larger than 5 gallon batches because I couldn't drink it fast enough by myself. So far black IPA, blonde, Irish red, witbeer, espresso imperial Russian stout, and a mint chocolate stout two weeks in the primary right now. This weekend I'm going to brew a milder pale ale.

    On brew nights, I literally RUSH home to start around 6pm, and usually finish cleaning up around 11pm, but have been banging around later than 1am when things don't go right. I'm excited. I love the process as much as drinking the beer. Ok, that's a lie, but they go together like peas+carrots(and butter and salt). My favorite beer so far was a Hoegarden clone that came out spot on (or close enough to recognize. It's already losing some of it's spice). It makes you appreciate what the commercial brewers can do as far as making a beer the same every time. I'm looking for a cheap recirculation pump ($20) to keep the mash from stratifying and messing with the consistency. Best thing is I'm getting patient with the fermenters, letting the yeasty beasties do their thing. I've learned how to wash the yeast and can brew a 5 gallon, 5.5% abv blonde for about $16 now that I'm off the extract. The peaches are doing great this year. I'm hoping to do a peach lambric-style with some rainwater and some local honey.

    Advice to other people with nothing better to do on a Friday night than to getting sticky and making a mess: Starting out small is doable but it's good advice to plan ahead. You will eventually go to all grain brewing.
  15. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Good for you btuser, it will either keep you out of trouble or in trouble. Take your time and do it right, you'll have some good brews to enjoy. I plan on doing a couple of large batches of hard apple cider this fall.
  16. JDC1

    JDC1 Feeling the Heat

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    I noticed a big difference in the taste of my homebrew when I switched to all grain.

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