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Author Topic: Expensive to restart from scratch  (Read 3338 times)

Offline waltsmalt

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Re: Expensive to restart from scratch
« Reply #15 on: October 03, 2020, 05:36:32 am »
If I am honest with myself, the biggest issue was all the stuff that I bought that I later found out I didn’t need.  Would have been better off taking a “measure twice, cut once philosophy” in my purchases.  Oh well, it’s been a fun ride. 

Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Expensive to restart from scratch
« Reply #16 on: October 03, 2020, 06:31:40 am »
If I am honest with myself, the biggest issue was all the stuff that I bought that I later found out I didn’t need.  Would have been better off taking a “measure twice, cut once philosophy” in my purchases.  Oh well, it’s been a fun ride. 

But that would require a level of self control that I so rarely possess in terms of this hobby....cheers!
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Offline HopDen

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Re: Expensive to restart from scratch
« Reply #17 on: October 03, 2020, 06:54:06 am »
All I can say is that I have spent over 13K on my brew system and I don't regret it at all, I cringe, but no regrets! Brewing and wine making are just one of my hobbies. I spent big and bought what I feel will last the remainder of my life. Sure, I could have bought a bass boat or a cool little convertible but you can only take those out in nice weather and they sit undercover all winter long.  I can brew whenever my heat desires!

If you have a passion and a love for something that gives you real pleasure then the money shouldn't be a top consideration.

Last I heard, there ain't no beer in heaven.

Offline Saccharomyces

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Re: Expensive to restart from scratch
« Reply #18 on: October 03, 2020, 08:25:09 am »
THIS^^^^  Expensive equipment is something you want, not need.  If you truly want to brew it can be done on a shoestring.

I agree, but at this point in my life, I know the difference between quality and make-do gear. For example, a keggle costs next to noting if one can look past the fact that the keg is owned by the brewery embossed on it.  I personally would never use a keggle again because keggles are horribly inefficient to heat.  I only purchase or build kettles with welded fittings.  That has been my personal preference since I built my first and only keggle.  One area where I have become more flexible is fermentation vessel material.  I only fermented in glass after I acquired my first 6.5 gallon acid bottle.  At that point in time, I would have never considered going back to buckets and their residual odors, but I was a very strong, surefooted guy when I started to brew.  Glass is not even on my radar these days and it was not on my radar during my previous pass through the hobby.  That being said, I cannot think of another piece of gear that has increased in price as much without a corresponding increase in quality as the lowly 6.5-gallon food-grade bucket. I paid $5 for my first 6.5-gallon bucket.  Some places are now charging as much as $20 for 6.5-gallon food-grade buckets.

The reality is that after one has been brewing and acquiring better gear for a number of years, it is very difficult to go back to the beginning.  Plus, step-wise improvement may reduce "at time of acquisition" cost, but it raises overall cost, as the cost of previously acquired and discarded gear has to be included in total cost of ownership.  While I recommend that beginning brewers start with the minimum kit they need to brew until they are certain that brewing is not a passing fad, anyone who was in the hobby for a number of years and had to take a break that was long enough to sell off gear should think long and hard about taking that path. It is better to "buy once, cry once" if one knows what one wants.  Sure, it will take one longer to start back up because few people can lay out that much money at one time without taking it out of savings or going into debt.  I have been acquiring gear using my monthly disposable income and I am purchasing it all new.  I always shoot for the best price I can get for off-the-self gear and parts to build gear.  For example, I purchased a new Taprite T742 regulator for $49.00 shipped to my home.  Sure one can purchase a new T742 for $49.00 from Beverage Elements, but they charge shipping.  On the other hand, I purchased a two-pack of 5-gallon AEB soda kegs for $200.00 shipped with tax from Beverage Elements.  My LHBS sells the same keg for $125 each.  That is a $50 savings and small savings add up while building out a new brew house, home brewing lab, and beer dispensing setup. I could purchase used kegs for half of that cost, but then I would have to rebuild them.  I have had my fill of removing stickers, cleaning, and polishing, not to mention replacing o-rings, poppets, pressure relief valves, and lids.  Those half-price used kegs are no longer a bargain after one has to invest $20 on complete set of o-rings and two new poppets plus a lot of one's time to bring them back into working condition.  Let's not forget about the used kegs we have received that will never be gas tight. Used kegs were a bargain when they were $10 to $15 each and new kegs were over $100, but it does not make sense to blindly go used these days, not remotely so.

One area where I have killed it has been lab glassware. I always purchase new surplus if it is available.  I purchased 72 new-in-box re-usuable Kimble culture tubes with caps for under $40 shipped. That is 1/4th the cost if purchased from a labware supplier and much less than what some homebrewing stores charge for non-resusable culture tubes (just because a screw cap culture tube is glass does not mean that it is re-usable).  I purchased a box of six new Corning 3980 500ml Erlenmeyer flasks for under $30 shipped to my door.  That is less than $5 per flask shipped to my door.  MoreBeer charges almost double that price for an off-brand 500ml flask.

Offline Saccharomyces

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Re: Expensive to restart from scratch
« Reply #19 on: October 03, 2020, 08:44:27 am »
By the way, hobbies are expensive.  I have been playing electric and acoustic guitar off-and-on since high school.  I used to play in gigging bands when I was young.  What is crazy is that I have gear today that I would have killed to own when I was a gigging musician.  However, then again, the gear I owned when I was a gigging musician took a beating.

Offline goose

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Re: Expensive to restart from scratch
« Reply #20 on: October 03, 2020, 08:57:38 am »
You want an expensive hobby, try ham radio!  Been doing that for 43 years now.  Been brewing for about 23 years.  Have spent a lot on both!
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Offline majorvices

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Re: Expensive to restart from scratch
« Reply #21 on: October 03, 2020, 09:05:58 am »
I think that it is because we have grown out of a mad monk squad cottage industry to a life-style industry.  Early adopters had to bootstrap themselves.  We were happy with much simpler setups because that was all that was possible.  Today, there is so much cool gear that a newbie can find himself/herself overwhelmed by options. I think about the options for a brew stove when I started.  We had the jet engine-style turkey fryers that were a pipe and an orifice and the Superb PC-100 30K BTU ringer burner-based stove.  Most of us chose the Superb PC-100 because one could get 10 to 12 batches out a of 20lb propane tank with that stove if one used one's house range for mashing. The PC-100 is the stove that John Palmer references during his early brewing.
Your life-style comment rings very true to me. I regularly see people selling thousands of dollars of shiny stainless only used a few times. It%u2019s clear some people build out very nice high capacity systems only to find they don%u2019t like brewing as much as they thought they would (I guess).

The old ways are still available. BIAB can be especially low cost.

Other than kegs (which I only bought after I realized I was "all in"), I have spent peanuts on brewing.

THIS^^^^  Expensive equipment is something you want, not need.  If you truly want to brew it can be done on a shoestring.

Indeed.  I am still brewing on my stovetop.  I do not own a turkey fryer or kegs or CO2 or a kettle bigger than 4 gallons or a chiller or a fermentation fridge or a robot or.........

It can be dirt cheap.  I'm even more "pragmatic" than Denny.  Yet somehow I still make good beer, which occasionally even wins awards & accolades.  My roggenbier turned out pretty dang fantastic.  If there was any left and any competitions, if I had enough, I'd gladly send it in, however I think I only have one bottle left, it disappeared quick.  That's the sign of (1) a good beer, (2) a very small batch (also true!), or (3) both.

I totally agree it can be very cheap and you can make great beer - but that doesn't soyund like what the OP is after when he's talking about "setting up a lab" ... just sayin'. ;)

Offline denny

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Re: Expensive to restart from scratch
« Reply #22 on: October 03, 2020, 09:51:23 am »
I think that it is because we have grown out of a mad monk squad cottage industry to a life-style industry.  Early adopters had to bootstrap themselves.  We were happy with much simpler setups because that was all that was possible.  Today, there is so much cool gear that a newbie can find himself/herself overwhelmed by options. I think about the options for a brew stove when I started.  We had the jet engine-style turkey fryers that were a pipe and an orifice and the Superb PC-100 30K BTU ringer burner-based stove.  Most of us chose the Superb PC-100 because one could get 10 to 12 batches out a of 20lb propane tank with that stove if one used one's house range for mashing. The PC-100 is the stove that John Palmer references during his early brewing.
Your life-style comment rings very true to me. I regularly see people selling thousands of dollars of shiny stainless only used a few times. It%u2019s clear some people build out very nice high capacity systems only to find they don%u2019t like brewing as much as they thought they would (I guess).

The old ways are still available. BIAB can be especially low cost.

Other than kegs (which I only bought after I realized I was "all in"), I have spent peanuts on brewing.

THIS^^^^  Expensive equipment is something you want, not need.  If you truly want to brew it can be done on a shoestring.

Indeed.  I am still brewing on my stovetop.  I do not own a turkey fryer or kegs or CO2 or a kettle bigger than 4 gallons or a chiller or a fermentation fridge or a robot or.........

It can be dirt cheap.  I'm even more "pragmatic" than Denny.  Yet somehow I still make good beer, which occasionally even wins awards & accolades.  My roggenbier turned out pretty dang fantastic.  If there was any left and any competitions, if I had enough, I'd gladly send it in, however I think I only have one bottle left, it disappeared quick.  That's the sign of (1) a good beer, (2) a very small batch (also true!), or (3) both.

I totally agree it can be very cheap and you can make great beer - but that doesn't soyund like what the OP is after when he's talking about "setting up a lab" ... just sayin'. ;)

No, it doesn't.   But Mark doesn't want to just brew beer...he wants more than that.  That's great, but to say brewing is too expensive is not the case.  It's the way Mark want to brew and the ancillary things that are expensive.
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Offline Saccharomyces

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Re: Expensive to restart from scratch
« Reply #23 on: October 03, 2020, 10:36:37 am »
You want an expensive hobby, try ham radio!  Been doing that for 43 years now.  Been brewing for about 23 years.  Have spent a lot on both!

Yes, amateur radio can be a ridiculously expensive hobby.  I earned a Novice license in Boy Scouts, but it lapsed.  I decided to get back into amateur radio in the mid-00s, earning an Amateur Extra license thanks to my technical background and the significantly reduced code test.  I went QRT a few years ago and sold off most of my gear except for a Yaesu FT-817ND and an ICOM 2m radio. I was not very active before I went QRT.

Offline Saccharomyces

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Re: Expensive to restart from scratch
« Reply #24 on: October 03, 2020, 10:53:28 am »
No, it doesn't.   But Mark doesn't want to just brew beer...he wants more than that.  That's great, but to say brewing is too expensive is not the case.  It's the way Mark want to brew and the ancillary things that are expensive.

Brewing all-grain beer can be cheap if one sticks with a batch size under 5-gallons, does BIAB, and bottles one's beer.  A propane stove, larger kettle, and even a cheaply made batch sparging MLT is going to more than double the cost.  There is no real low-cost way to step up to kegging. There are lower cost options for sure, but low-cost and kegging do not go together.  There are now lower-cost all-in-one setups, but that does not appeal to me.  I will say that all-in-ones can be a saving grace for the minimalist brewer.  I am a minimalist to a point, but that is too minimalist for me.  I enjoy being part of the process.  That is why I still continuous sparge.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2020, 02:26:16 pm by Saccharomyces »

Offline denny

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Re: Expensive to restart from scratch
« Reply #25 on: October 03, 2020, 11:11:23 am »
No, it doesn't.   But Mark doesn't want to just brew beer...he wants more than that.  That's great, but to say brewing is too expensive is not the case.  It's the way Mark want to brew and the ancillary things that are expensive.

Brewing all-grain beer can be cheap if one sticks with a batch size under 5-gallons, does BIAB, and bottles one's beer.  A propane stove, larger kettle, and even a cheaply made-batch sparging MLT is going to more than double the cost.  There is not real low-cost way to step up to kegging. There are lower cost options for sure, but low-cost and kegging do not go together.  There are now lower-cost all-in-one setups, but that does not appeal to me.  I will say that all-in-ones can be a saving grace for the minimalist brewer.  I am a minimalist to a point, but that is too minimalist for me.  I enjoy being part of the process.  That is why I still continuous sparge.

Well, then, you're in luck.  Most all in ones, like my Grainfather, use a continuous sparge.
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Offline Saccharomyces

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Re: Expensive to restart from scratch
« Reply #26 on: October 03, 2020, 02:27:58 pm »
Well, then, you're in luck.  Most all in ones, like my Grainfather, use a continuous sparge.

That not exactly a cheap and cheerful solution, but it is nice, especially the 70L version like you own.

Offline denny

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Re: Expensive to restart from scratch
« Reply #27 on: October 03, 2020, 03:00:01 pm »
Well, then, you're in luck.  Most all in ones, like my Grainfather, use a continuous sparge.

That not exactly a cheap and cheerful solution, but it is nice, especially the 70L version like you own.

I wish I owned it!  It's on loan so I can give them feedback.  Truthfully, it's too big for what I need.  If O did ownj it, I'd get the micro pipework so I coild brew 8 ga. batches,  which is as small as it will go.  I've been doing 12 gal. and it's just too much. OTOH, I think the 220v G30 is a great system for my needs.
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Offline majorvices

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Re: Expensive to restart from scratch
« Reply #28 on: October 04, 2020, 08:36:29 am »
I have the BrewZilla 35L - it was about $600. I probably would not have purchased this - was a gift from my wife and definitely the most expensive single-item purchase homebrewing item I own. But I really like it and the fact that it is 110V works better for me. It heats plenty fast for what I need to do. 5-6 gallon batches are plenty big for me as I don't really even drink very much any more (in fact I sometimes do 3.5 gallon batches with it). If I want to do 10-12 gallon batches I simply double batch into my old 15 gallon kettle and use my propane burner.

I'll say that the great thing about this system (and systems like it) it that, aside from the fermenter(s) and temp control it's a single purchase and does everything you need. Edit: I did add a sight glass but that's the only mod I needed for the system.

Offline fredthecat

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Re: Expensive to restart from scratch
« Reply #29 on: October 11, 2020, 09:13:28 pm »
I have the BrewZilla 35L - it was about $600. I probably would not have purchased this - was a gift from my wife and definitely the most expensive single-item purchase homebrewing item I own. But I really like it and the fact that it is 110V works better for me. It heats plenty fast for what I need to do. 5-6 gallon batches are plenty big for me as I don't really even drink very much any more (in fact I sometimes do 3.5 gallon batches with it). If I want to do 10-12 gallon batches I simply double batch into my old 15 gallon kettle and use my propane burner.

I'll say that the great thing about this system (and systems like it) it that, aside from the fermenter(s) and temp control it's a single purchase and does everything you need. Edit: I did add a sight glass but that's the only mod I needed for the system.


Yeah, to be honest, I kind of outright discounted "those fancy new all-in-one, stainless steel systems" when I rebought all my brew stuff last year. But looking again, they actually are mostly all-in-one. and for a few hundred bucks and less actual manhandling involved, theyre not that bad of a deal.