Is Brewing Your Own Beer Worth It?
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The general question when trying to get into homebrewing beer is, is it worth it? Homebrewing is a peak interest of mine and in this blog post, I will help you understand whether or not brewing your own beer is worth it, with a focus on the overall cost, quality and general enjoyment of homebrewing beer.
Is Brewing Your Own Beer Worth It? If you like doing something yourself and if you enjoy a beer from time to time, home brewing might be worth it for you. You can craft beer with a personal touch for less than 50 USD worth of equipment and ingredients. All it takes is a few hours of your time to brew your own beer
The answer to this question is more complicated than a simple yes or no.
When talking about whether or not it is worth it to brew your own beer, you have to look at different perspectives.
Read on as I get into the details of brewing beer at home.
Read Also: What Every Home Brewer Needs
So, Is Brewing Your Own Beer Worth It?
First of all, are you interested in homebrewing because you think you can save money, or because you think you would enjoy making your own personal beer?
Either way, it's possible to create cheaper beer than the stores while still getting the satisfaction of enjoying something you have done yourself.
We made an article breaking down beer brewing from a financial point of view. Get all the details by clicking here.
To make a personal beer which is probably what most homebrewers aim to do, you have to spend a lot of time understanding how to mix your batches.
Experimenting with mixing is where most homebrewers find the satisfaction of the craft. There is an unfathomable amount of different mixes you can create and find your own personal beer recipe.
In the beginning, you have to understand what grains and herbs, spices, etc. go well together to find a good foundation.
It is important to mention that experimenting with different beer recipes is where the cost can increase quite a lot depending on how long it takes you to find a formula you are happy with.
You then have to make sure you understand what kit to acquire depending on your own vision and budget.
The Cost of Homebrewing Kits
The cost of homebrewing entirely depends on how you wish to craft your beer. If you wish to craft cheaper beer than what you find in the local store that is entirely possible, but it will limit you substantially.
The truth is that homebrewing won’t save you a fortune unless you don’t mind drinking very low-quality beer. You can save money in the long run, but that requires you to make a commitment and not quit after a few batches.
When talking actual numbers in terms of cost of homebrewing your own beer, the prices vary a lot. If you are just starting there are kits online priced at between 5-10 USD. The price then increases as the kits get more advanced all the way up to several thousand USD.
Advanced quality equipment is more expensive, but not necessary for hobby brewers
Here is an example of a low-cost brewing kit from Amazon. This kit crafts up to 1 gallon at a time.
If you feel you are ready to craft larger and more advanced batches then the next step could be a kit like this one. In this kit, you have more tools to work with and can make up to 5 gallons at a time.
If you want to check out some nice home brew kits for beginners check out My Blog Post About The Best Home Brewing Kit For Beginners.
The reason for this big price jump is the increase in quality of the equipment, and the potential acquirement of add-ons for the kits to make a more advanced beer-making process that gives you a better and more personal beer in the end.
Some of the starter kits are very straight forward, with all the equipment and ingredients provided and a clear instruction manual for the entire process.
But if you want to make a more personal beer, you have to acquire a kit that allows you to mix whatever grains and herbs you want.
The more advanced kits require you to have some knowledge of basic beer making. Then you can challenge yourself by adapting new equipment for new processes to further increase the personality of your own beer.
The Cost of Ingredients
To craft a good personal beer you have to research and understand what ingredients best suit your needs. There are many different types of beer you can make. For example, if you want a tropical tasting beer, you have to focus on ingredients that have a natural fruity sweet or sour taste and try to mix it to your best ability.
To start off, Beer is made from 4 main ingredients:
- Hops (either grow your own or buy online for 2$+)
- Grain (usually consists of barley, but others can be used, prices from about 0,2$+)
- Yeast (fermentation process, prices from 2$+)
These are the ingredients you need to understand to make a good foundation for your beer. What gives the beer a personal touch is both the correct mixing and processing of these 4 ingredients, but also the herbs and spices you can add to create a unique taste experience.
TIP: Make a personal budget when shopping for ingredients, make sure you don’t invest more than you can afford to lose.
The same thing that applies to the cost of kits applies to the cost of ingredients. It all depends on how advanced you want to get. If you are just experimenting you may want to acquire somewhat low-cost ingredients to make sure your losses aren’t too high.
Many brewing sites have a wide range of hops, grain, and yeast in all price ranges. You can create a batch with ingredients for less than 10 USD. If money isn’t an issue, you can create a batch with ingredients from 300 USD+.
Is Brewing Beer Worth My Time?
Once you have begun making your own beer, you can begin to get into the habit of always having beer in the process of being made.
Then follows another few weeks after you have bottled your beer to make sure the beer is properly conditioned.
The actual preparing and mixing of ingredients only takes a couple of hours but can take a bit longer depending on how advanced your formula is.
Now is it worth your time?
That entirely depends on your interest in the craft and whether or not you have a few hours free every 4 or so weeks. If you have the time to spare and like the feeling of creating your own beer, then homebrewing is definitely for you!
Is it Easy to Learn How To Make your Own Beer?
The straight-up answer to this question is a simple yes. The process for making beer, in general, is pretty straight forward.
Here is an example of a step-by-step beginner level recipe you can make in just a few hours:
Step 1: Preparations
The first step is to prepare your equipment.
If you have a beginner-kit all the necessary equipment will be included and should be as follows:
- Fermenter + air tight seal/lock
- Stir Spoon
- Your recipe kit (or own acquired individual ingredients)
We made a list of recipe kits that might be useful especially if you just started off brewing. Click here and get all the details.
NOTE: It is extremely important to keep all your equipment sanitized or it can potentially ruin your entire batch.
Step 2: Brewing
- Steep grains: Fill your kettle up to half with water. As you heat your water, steep the grains for approximately 20 minutes or until the water reaches 170 degrees. When you remove the grains, let the water drip out of the grain bag and into your kettle. Let it naturally drip, don't force it as you risk getting extract into your batch which can create a bad flavor.
- Bring kettle up to a boil, then remove from heat and add your malt extracts. Make sure your kettle doesn't boil over. The hops are then added at varying intervals, make sure you follow your recipe to make sure you are adding the right hops at the right time.
- Now you should have what is called wort or sugar water. Cooldown the worth using one of 2 ways
- Set your pot in a sink filled with ice-cold water
- Or, use a wort chiller: Insert the chiller in your Wort, run cold water from your tap through the chiller and into your sink.
Do you want to cut your brewing time? Check out this article: Best Propane Burner For Homebrewing.
Step 3: Fermenting
- Pour the cooled wort you just finished into your fermenter.
- Add remaining half of water to fill the kettle
- Aerate your worth by shaking it around. Yeast needs air and shaking it can help the fermenting process
- Add your yeast.
- Seal your fermenter, make sure it is completely airtight and store it in a dark cool place. Ther recommended fermenting temperature is around 68 degrees.
Step 4: Bottling
After the fermenting has completed, it is finally time to bottle your fine beer.
- Sanitize everything! Literally everything, yourself, bottles, bottle caps, bottling bucket, any hoses you might use to transfer - EVERYTHING!
- Boil your priming sugar in water. After it cools, add it directly to your bottling bucket.
- Transfer the beer. Siphon your beer out of the fermenter and into your bottling bucket
- Fill bottles. Attach the bottle filler to the hose, and hose to bottling bucket spigot. Open the spigot and push the bottle filler to the very bottom of each bottle. Make sure you fill your bottles all the way to the top since when you remove the bottle filler, it will create the perfect amount of space at the top of your bottles.
- Cap the bottles
- Store the bottles for approximately 2 weeks at room temperature
Step 5: Enjoy!
You have now made your own beer from scratch, congratulations and enjoy the taste of hard-earned, homebrewed beer!
Are you just starting out and need help with the equipment? Take a look at the best Beer Brewing Kits for Beginners here.
Average Cost of a 5 Gallon Batch of Beer
In this section, I will provide you with some numbers on how much you can save making 5-gallon batches of beer, mostly ales, compared to buying it in stores.
Depending on your choice of ale, and choice of equipment it can take a longer time to break-even in your homebrewing adventure, but it is possible for most types of beer and equipment.
The more money you invest in expensive equipment, the longer the equipment will likely last. If you take good care of your homebrewing equipment it might even last your whole life.
There are some assumptions used for the table you can find further down this section, they are as follows:
The average cost in ingredients for your 5-gallon batch is 40$ and you brew around 15 times per year. Each batch you brew will make a profit, but it takes some time to pay off the equipment bought for homebrewing.
|5 Gallon Homebrew||5 Gallon Retail|
|Batches to Break-even||3.75||-|
|Time to Break-even||3 months||-|
So judging by this table you can actually save 60$ per 5 gallons of beer you brew.
TIP: This can be increased even further if you buy your ingredients in bulk and brew even larger batches at a time.
If you want to get hardcore you can check out My Blog Post About Huge 55 Gallon Fermenters