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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: captnjohnny1618 on April 06, 2010, 12:48:36 pm

Title: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: captnjohnny1618 on April 06, 2010, 12:48:36 pm
I try to keep my prices around $30 per batch (I'm still extract brewing) but they always seems to creep closer to $40, which is quite an expenditure all at once for a college student!  I'm not complaining, it's still cheaper than store bought beer or beer at a bar, but I'm just trying to stay thrifty.

So my question, (to both extract and all grain brewers):

How much money on average does a 5 gallon batch cost you? Any what are your brewing mostly (dark beers? Light beers? Belgians? etc.)

(Feel free to throw in any tips for keeping costs down...  ;D)
Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: babalu87 on April 06, 2010, 12:54:47 pm
Half that anyway but we do bulk grain buys with my brew club.

Re-use yeast ( you can get minimum 5 generations out of one pack, more if you reserve and make starters OR freeze)
Buy hops in bulk

Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: captnjohnny1618 on April 06, 2010, 01:04:06 pm
Half that anyway but we do bulk grain buys with my brew club.

Re-use yeast ( you can get minimum 5 generations out of one pack, more if you reserve and make starters OR freeze)
Buy hops in bulk



Yeah, I'm hopefully joining a club soon. (I'll be attending my first meeting this weekend! Woo hoo!) I don't brew often enough (I try to brew once every 3-4 weeks) to reuse yeast without going to lengths to culture my own. I also don't think my fridge is big enough to properly culture yeast.
Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: weithman5 on April 06, 2010, 01:51:25 pm
every three to four weeks you should be able to reuse your yeast fine.  just save the slurry and build up a new starter from it.  keep it in a small mason jar.
Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: narvin on April 06, 2010, 01:51:30 pm
All grain with 55 lb sacks is the way to go (I think I pay 88 cents per pound for Best Malz and MFB Pils sacks at my LHBS).  Buying a pound of hops from hopsdirect is also going to save you a lot of money.

Everything else (yeast ranching, canning starter wort, etc) is worth it, but has less return.
Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: denny on April 06, 2010, 01:56:20 pm
I have no idea what a batch costs me...it's my hobby, so I really don't care.  I know it's cheaper than buying a bass boat!  ;)
Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: yugamrap on April 06, 2010, 02:10:23 pm
I have no idea what a batch costs me...it's my hobby, so I really don't care.  I know it's cheaper than buying a bass boat!  ;)
My sentiments exactly!  I try to keep my costs down by purchasing un-crushed base grains by the sack, and reusing yeast when I can - but that's as much about convenience as it is cost.  It seems almost silly that I think about saving a few cents per pound of grain when I have three refrigerators dedicated entirely to brewing and beer (one for fermenting, one for lagering, one for serving).  I guess what I save on ingredients helps offset the fuel and electricity I use when I brew and store my beer.  IMHO, saving money isn't a good reason to take up homebrewing - or any other hobby.  I do it because I enjoy it (okay, I'm obsessed, too!).
Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: majorvices on April 06, 2010, 02:10:35 pm
Go all grain and buy your malt and hops in bulk and reuse your yeast. I can make 10 gallons of beer for less than 20 bucks.
Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: BrewArk on April 06, 2010, 02:13:14 pm
All grain with 55 lb sacks is the way to go (I think I pay 88 cents per pound for Best Malz and MFB Pils sacks at my LHBS).  Buying a pound of hops from hopsdirect is also going to save you a lot of money.

Everything else (yeast ranching, canning starter wort, etc) is worth it, but has less return.
+1 on the full sacks of grain if you can store/use them.

There are lots of little tricks (like brewing 10 gallons instead of 5 to save pennies on propane or growing your own hops) that aren't going to be appreciable.

I'd recommend acquiring the important equipment over time when you can find it cheap.  When you do spend money, focus on the biggest bang for the buck in quality (i.e. control fermentation temperature before buying a draft system).

If you really want to control the cost per batch - brew the cheaper beers now while you're poor.  Get good at it, then when you can afford it move up the line.
Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: bluesman on April 06, 2010, 02:44:25 pm
My goal is to the make the best possible beer with quality ingredients. Therefore cost becomes secondary. I do try to buy ingredients in bulk or group grain purchases. I also price shop online to find deals. I won't let cost get in the way of quality if I can help it.
Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: denny on April 06, 2010, 03:03:05 pm
My goal is to the make the best possible beer with quality ingredients. Therefore cost becomes secondary. I do try to buy ingredients in bulk or group grain purchases. I also price shop online to find deals. I won't let cost get in the way of quality if I can help it.

+1 to you and yugamrap.....I don't have a "damn the cost" attitude and I do try to keep costs reasonable, but beyond that it just doesn't matter to me.
Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: majorvices on April 06, 2010, 03:37:10 pm
You can still make great beer and keep the cost down. I never understood that "damn the cost" attitude. But I am a frugal dude. That said, I'm not suggesting skimping on ingredients either.

BTW, denny, what happened to CHEAP and easy?  ::) ;)
Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: babalu87 on April 06, 2010, 03:57:37 pm
You can still make great beer and keep the cost down. I never understood that "damn the cost" attitude. But I am a frugal dude. That said, I'm not suggesting skimping on ingredients either.

BTW, denny, what happened to CHEAP and easy?  ::) ;)

Choose one option

Expensive equipment
Craptastic ingredients

Craptastic equipment
Expensive equipment
Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: BarleynYeast on April 06, 2010, 04:24:42 pm
I brewed 10 Gallons of blond ale for a St Patrick’s day party. I used repitched yeast, hops that where giving to me by the party host. (He is from Yakima and get lots of hops every year for free ;D Lucky me!) So the total cost was $18.00. (Cheapest beer I ever made.)
That’s what I tell my wife and I am sticking to it! Never mind the $5k in brewing equipment over the last 4 years :o
Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: majorvices on April 06, 2010, 05:23:51 pm
You can still make great beer and keep the cost down. I never understood that "damn the cost" attitude. But I am a frugal dude. That said, I'm not suggesting skimping on ingredients either.

BTW, denny, what happened to CHEAP and easy?  ::) ;)

Choose one option

Expensive equipment
Craptastic ingredients

Craptastic equipment
Expensive equipment


I think I'll choose "buy quality ingredients in bulk and save a s***load of money".  ;)
Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: babalu87 on April 06, 2010, 05:53:30 pm
Ugh

4 kids milling around = FAIL POST

Craptastic equipment
Great Ingredients

or

Craptastic ingredients
Expensive equipment

Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: captnjohnny1618 on April 06, 2010, 06:18:43 pm
every three to four weeks you should be able to reuse your yeast fine.  just save the slurry and build up a new starter from it.  keep it in a small mason jar.

Any specific measures that need to be taken for sanitation? Also, how big is a "small" mason jar?
Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: captnjohnny1618 on April 06, 2010, 06:22:10 pm
I have no idea what a batch costs me...it's my hobby, so I really don't care.  I know it's cheaper than buying a bass boat!  ;)

Believe me, I would take that attitude if I had a bit more money to throw around.  Right now, I have $30 in the bank and $15 in cash and I'm trying to decide whether or not I need to eat for the next two weeks...

I also just had a batch of brown ale go off the deep end (bacteria I'm pretty sure) and I REALLY don't want that to happen again.  I don't have any beer right now b/c of that loss!
Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: a10t2 on April 06, 2010, 10:32:12 pm
Any specific measures that need to be taken for sanitation? Also, how big is a "small" mason jar?

Nothing beyond what you're already doing. Also, at a month or less I wouldn't worry about making a starter either - since you're doing extract that'll save some money. With AG you can do propagations with your leftover wort: http://seanterrill.com/2010/03/23/yeast-ranching-and-you/ Check out the slurry tab on the MrMalty calculator for exact numbers, but you'll be using around 50-100 mL of slurry for most ales.

To actually answer the question, an average-gravity AG batch costs me about $15-20 for 5 gallons. Roughly a quarter of that is propane, which people always seem to forget about.

Right now, I have $30 in the bank and $15 in cash and I'm trying to decide whether or not I need to eat for the next two weeks...

Just brew, and kill two birds with one stone. It worked out pretty well for some monks I know... ;)
Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: weithman5 on April 07, 2010, 04:56:51 am
i have various jars.some are full quart size and some are half pint. you could even use your leftover jelly, peanut butter or even a beer bottle.  you dont need to go crazy but make sure it is at least washed with hot water and rinsed. i also save a little bit of my wort in the freezer to use as a starter for the next time if idont have enough slurry.

as far as propane, i have a natural gas grill off my house line.  i am trying to get a burner to come off that line.  still costs but i can blame the kids and long showers.
Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: MrNate on April 07, 2010, 09:35:41 am
My brewing costs are substantially less than $8/six pack and more than Budweiser. Beyond that, I couldn't tell you.
Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: captnjohnny1618 on April 07, 2010, 10:18:20 am
Sounds like I need to move away from extract brewing to keep costs down a bit more...   :-\  As soon as I'm no longer confined to this dorm I'm going to be looking into all grain brewing (well, I'm already researching it, I just am not seriously considering acquiring anything in the near future...)

I think my costs are going to be about the same though whether I go with extract brewing or partial mash.  Seem like an accurate judgement?
Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: a10t2 on April 07, 2010, 10:26:08 am
I think my costs are going to be about the same though whether I go with extract brewing or partial mash.  Seem like an accurate judgement?

I don't think so. Even in bulk, DME is going to run you about $3/lb. The equivalent amount of base malt would be less than half that. So moving half your gravity contribution from extract to malt would save around $5 a batch. Buying by the pound, the savings would be even higher.
Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: captnjohnny1618 on April 07, 2010, 01:04:56 pm
I don't think so. Even in bulk, DME is going to run you about $3/lb. The equivalent amount of base malt would be less than half that. So moving half your gravity contribution from extract to malt would save around $5 a batch. Buying by the pound, the savings would be even higher.

That's great news! I just printed off a huge PDF (40 pages) on converting all grain recipes to partial mash and how to brew partial mash.  I'll definitely look into that for an upcoming batch!  Thanks!
Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: kgs on April 07, 2010, 09:56:04 pm
Another tip: periodically check Craigslist and Freecycle (if you have a Freecycle locally) for people unloading homebrew equipment. Sometimes people are scaling up, sometimes they have tried it and it wasn't their thing, but you can find some good buys or even freebies that way.
Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: euge on April 08, 2010, 12:21:01 am


I used to worry about the price of grain and hops. A lot. I can tell you everything has gone up a fair amount in the past three years. Ingredients are now bought in bulk at some savings. Trips to LHBS for things,,,$$ Now I don't worry about what it costs but it's economical- maybe $0.50-0.75 a beer? Seems like it should be cheaper, but I remember when it was much less not so long ago; I could get a sack of two-row for $45 but now it's $65+ so I pay extra for the Maris Otter. ;D

It's not a cheap hobby but there are the benefits.
Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: mnstorm99 on April 08, 2010, 06:24:26 am
With equipment figured in I would say I am doing just better than breaking even.  But, I average about $25 per batch with just ingredients, I do all grain and only buy my hops in bulk.. 
Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: yaleterrace on April 10, 2010, 10:06:05 am
My typical pale ale runs around 35 or 45 bucks (all grain) for 5 gal, but i just make a maple DIPA that weighed in at $125/9gal (at 9.5%ABV) so it really depends.  My next batch is a belgian gruit / robust porter blend, and I don't skimp on the herbs, so it'll probably wind up at around $200/ 17.5 gal. ($57/5 gal).

For me, the idea is not "how do I make a clone, but cheap?", I'm more of a "nobody but me makes this" kinda guy.  that's not to say you are shooting for what I'm doing, or vice-versa.
Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: euge on April 10, 2010, 12:01:22 pm

For me, the idea is not "how do I make a clone, but cheap?", I'm more of a "nobody but me makes this" kinda guy.  that's not to say you are shooting for what I'm doing, or vice-versa.

++1

Yup. Constantly tweaking & experimenting with recipes. And they are uniquely mine. If I want a SNPA or Arrogant Bastard I'll buy one. Otherwise I might take- say a Samuel Smith's Old Brewery Pale ale and shoot for the same body and mouthfeel. I'll have a beer like that as inspiration and shoot for the things I admire and want reflected in my own brewing.

Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: mthogan1997 on April 11, 2010, 05:01:30 pm
Out of curiosity, I have scoured all my credit card bills and checks for the last 15 years (thanks quicken) and I have found that my equipment averages $3.52 per batch (CO2 is included and I've brewed 432 batches). Counting my equipment, ingredients, and propane, I am at about $25 per batch.  Far cheaper than I would have guessed ;D.

Edit: I forgot about inflation, my $3.52 was "then year dollars" so it would probably be more like $6 or $7 in 2010 dollars.
Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: corkybstewart on April 11, 2010, 05:48:52 pm
I buy malt from a brewpub for $0.50/pound. hops by the pound and dry yeast for basic recipes.  Even figuring equipment costs of $5 per batch, which is probably twice what it really is,   I can easily brew 10 gallons of a standard porter, pale ale or oatmeal stout for under $25.  I don't brew to save money, I never have, but the way I see it is that the money saved can be spent on my next beer focused vacation.
Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: The Professor on April 11, 2010, 10:39:22 pm
I buy malt from a brewpub for $0.50/pound. hops by the pound and dry yeast for basic recipes.  Even figuring equipment costs of $5 per batch, which is probably twice what it really is,   I can easily brew 10 gallons of a standard porter, pale ale or oatmeal stout for under $25.  I don't brew to save money, I never have, but the way I see it is that the money saved can be spent on my next beer focused vacation.

Sounds about right to me...I generally pay a similar amount for my malts (when I can),  I buy hops in bulk, and have been using primarily the same yeast since 1989.  I can make 5 gal of a standard brew for under $10.00 and some pretty hefty brews for the winter months for anywhere from $13.00 -18.00 per 5 gal.  Not too many years ago (less than 10 years ago) , I was buying Crisp Maris for less than $18.00 per sack and the costs per batch were even lower.

Brewing at home began for me almost 40 years ago as a "can I do it" kind of challenge.  The cost savings over commercial beer was never really the main issue, but it is a great benefit of homebrewing (and especially appreciated these days);  for at least the last 15-20 years there has been no real reason to buy any commercial beer other than curiosity or research.  It's actually been quite a LONG time since I bought a commercial beer that I wished I could emulate.
Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: mnstorm99 on April 12, 2010, 07:42:31 am
I also could care less about my costs, but I figure I would do a (rough) per batch estimate of equipment ($15), propane ($5) and ingredients ($25/5 gallons).  All of this combined comes out to less than a doller per 12 ounce serving, so I guess I am saving money.  But, the fact that this is a consumable hobby, I would say the cost pays for itself.
Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: captnjohnny1618 on April 12, 2010, 09:17:21 am
I buy malt from a brewpub for $0.50/pound. hops by the pound and dry yeast for basic recipes. 

Wow.  I need to find a brewpub.  Right now the only option that I have is DME or LME from a local grocery store (that has a devoted brewing section nonetheless) but still pay $11+ for 3.3 lbs. 
Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: mnstorm99 on April 12, 2010, 09:27:01 am
I buy malt from a brewpub for $0.50/pound. hops by the pound and dry yeast for basic recipes. 

Wow.  I need to find a brewpub.  Right now the only option that I have is DME or LME from a local grocery store (that has a devoted brewing section nonetheless) but still pay $11+ for 3.3 lbs. 
Grain is very different than extract, but you really need to look online at some of the shops like Midwest or Northern Brewer.

I am also guessing most brewpubs are not using extracts for their base.
Title: Re: Cost Per Batch?
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on April 12, 2010, 09:31:12 am
I also buy grain in bulk (about $30 for 55lb),
Hops by the lb,
and repitch most of the yeast.

If you buy DME in bulk it is about $98 to $125 for 50lb bag.
That is about $2-$2.5 per lb.
One bag would last you about 8 brews.