Cutting Costs While Brewing Your Own Beer at Home

Cutting Costs While Brewing Your Own Beer at Home

Given the tough conditions which exist in our economy today, money is naturally a prime concern on everyone’s mind. Brewing your own beer is relatively cheap, however, buying the equipment at the initial, beginning stages is not always the most economical part of the home brewing process. It is possible for your initial costs to run under $100 and up to over $500, depending on the equipment you select and how dedicated you would like to be to home brewing. If you live on a tight budget, this can prove to be difficult for many people.

Here are the ways in which I found I could save money when searching for home brewing supplies. Anyone can utilize these tips to save money, and some of them may seem like a no-brainer. These are especially useful if you do not currently own any equipment as of yet, and would like to obtain these supplies at a more affordable cost.

8 Tips To Save Money On Home Brewing Supplies

  • Search craigslist for those selling supplies, or put up a post in the wanted section, looking for home brewing equipment.
  • Look there fore buckets, carboys, airlocks, bottles, and anything else you may think of. Some home brewers could be getting out of the hobby or upgrading their equipment and would love to drop their stuff off on you at a minute fraction of the actual cost.
  • Look at pawn shops, second hand stores, garage sales, and other salvage and surplus stores for home brewing supplies. I have discovered old water jugs (carboys) that sold for significantly less than half off the actual retail price. I purchased a used carboy at an auction one time for about $7, and it came completely equipped with a thermometer – built in.
  • Plastic buckets are naturally much less expensive than glass containers. You actually only need 5 gallon containers, as they are the most ideal. Ask your local bakery or deli if they have any leftover buckets, as believe it or not, they just throw them away when they are done with them. Also try to secure the lids that match the buckets. Whatever you do, do not use pickle buckets. The pickle odor is next to impossible to get rid of, and this taste will be absorbed into your beer. Another great resource for new buckets at a relatively low price is Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, paint stores, etc. Make sure the buckets you get are labeled with “HDPE 2″ on the bottom, as these are generally always a food grade plastic material. You will need to drill a 1” round hole in the lid to create an airlock, as well as to create a place for a tube later. These buckets usually near $5 a piece.
  • Check local and chain dollar stores for extra equipment. Spoons, thermometers, measuring cups, or anything else you may think of that could be useful in your new home brewing hobby.
  • Stainless steel is pretty difficult to discover second hand, however, enamel coated aluminum pots are much easier to find. I have found lots of them in used or second hand stores. I bought a 5 gallon aluminum pot another time for $5!
  • Reuse your yeast, don’t throw it out – whether it is dry or liquid. You will need glass jars for storage, some dry malt extract (DME), and your scavenged yeast from the fermenter. You can reuse yeast a numerous amount of times. This cuts down on the cost and actually will yield better, healthier yeast. Also, unless you know what was previously in used glass jars, buy them new. Anyone could have put chemicals or motor oil in those second hand jars – for obvious reasons, be cautious if buying used jars.
  • Look for light weight scales at Walmart and other discount stores.

My very first 1 pound scale cost me $4, and the home brewing shop wanted $7 for it.

Here is a good example on how to get basic home brewing equipment cheap, assuming you already have the brew pot needed for cooking and other basic kitchen utensils.

All prices are, of course, approximations:

  • Plastic bucket with lid – Free from bakery up to $5
  • Bottling bucket with spigot – $12 (Note: if you can get an extra free bucket, spigots only cost about $3, much cheaper!)
  • Airlock – $1
  • 4 feet of 3/8″ plastic tubing to siphon
  • $2 Bottle capper
  • $12 Bottle caps – $4
  • Stick on thermometer for bucket – $3
  • Hydrometer – $7
  • Bottles – recycle bottles – get some from your friends, that’s what I do
  • Bottle brush – $5
  • Basic ounce measuring scale – $5
  • These items can easily cost over $50, but if you use the hint I gave you with the bottling bucket, this will save you about $10.

You will also have need of

  • measuring cups
  • a regular thermometer
  • a long handled spoon
  • basic cleaning supplies

This list is to accommodate for single stage fermentation. The purpose of this list is to show you how it is possible to get basic supplies very cheap. A $100 kit is not absolutely necessary right from the start. Purchase a good home brewing guide now, a recipe guide, and I highly recommend getting a full 2 stage kit later – but if money is an issue, or you are not confident that you will be practicing this hobby in the long term, then brewing your own beer from home on a budget is definitely the way to go.