I’ve had many conversations about how to start brewing and my first response is always that it can be much cheaper than you think. Unless you're blessed with a big bank account or just inherited a large chunk of money, you will probably be wondering how to produce great beer without selling a kidney (If you’re going to be brewing on a regular basis you might need that kidney). I’m going to give you some tips on how to create some good beer limited outlay.
All-grain brewing can be a pretty big jump from extract kits. Most the home brewers I know all started on some sort of extract kit which is a really helpful process to learn some of the simple science behind beer production but many people jump into all-grain as they really want to make a beer their own. This is the case with me a year back. So, I read up about BIAB and I was amazed by how much the process resembled brewing a pot of tea. It’s simple, fill up a pan with your desired water volume (add more than you need, you’ll lose some due to the grain absorption, I go to 33 for a 25 litre batch but this will totally depend on your setup), slowly stir in your grain into a your BIAB bag and soak or mash your grain at your desired temperature for a specific time whilst occasionally stirring the grain. I generally go for a 90 minute mash with a medium grind on the grain (you can normally get your supplier to do this for you). I will then increase the mash temperate at the 70 and 80 minute mark to make sure i get all the sugars I can.
Once the mash is complete you will then remove the bag and then sit it above the pot for a minute or two and then it’s time to boil. I will then turn the heat up and boil the wort for and hour and then throw in the hops at different times defending on the recipe. After the boil, just get your pot and then throw it into an ice bath and chill the wort as quickly as your can and then transfer to your fermentation vessel, add your yeast and in about two weeks you’ve got some great beer.
The jump from extract kits to BIAB in regards to equipment is very limited. The only additional equipment you’ll need to buy is the bag and maybe a brew kettle. So, for less than £60 you can get the all the equipment you need for a basic BIAB setup.
I know, having a kegerator or keezer would be pretty cool, and who doesn't want a beer on tap at home right? However, a simple home tap system could set you back a few hundred pounds/ dollars which probably isn’t ideal if you’re on a budget.
I spoke to my local bar/ bottle shop and i’ve arranged a deal where I will pick up any empty bottles they have when ever I want. All I have to do to remove the printed labels is to soak the bottles in some Starsan for half an hour and with a little bit of elbow grease the labels will come off. Another solution that works for me most the time is to run the bottles through a dishwasher if you have one. The temperature that the water in the dishwasher gets to should quickly remove the label and and remaining glue.
Oh, and don’t forget to prime them. No-one wants flat beer.
Sure with the right storage you’ll be able to keep the grain and other ingredients for a long time and might save you money in the long term but the cost of a 25kg bag of grain matches the cost of three brews including yeast, hops etc.
Whilst storage and cost is a factor, It’s worth highlighting the need to experiment/ learn what each ingredient does and how it impacts the final product. Only once you know what you require on a regular basis can you really save money by buying your ingredients on mass.
I’m brewing somewhere in the region of 5-7 gallon batches at the moment and whilst that gives me a lot of beer, I also started of brewing smaller batches. If you’re new to all grain brewing there’s a lot to consider when designing beer recipes that will only learn the more your brew. I’d say a batch of beer costs me somewhere in the region of £20 - £30 for a 5-7 gallon batch. If I brewed my normal batch size and I didn’t like the beer I would be really annoyed to throw away £30. Whereas, If i was brewing a gallon a time (at the start) it would allow you to play around and experiment with different ingredients without breaking the bank.
I could keep going on but I’d love to hear what you think. What were your money saving tips? Get in touch and let us know.
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