I've been brewing for about 8 years, not too adventuresome, and still
using the partial-grain method. My last batch of ingredients, for a
Sam Adams "clone," came to $44. (Hops and yeast have gone up
considerably, and I can buy SA for about $40 a case). My supply store
had kits (Brewer's Best and a British one) for $25 to $35 for other
beers I like, so can someone talk me out of going that route?
Easy, buy in bulk and the cost goes down dramatically. I buy the base
malt in 25kg bags, crystal malts etc, in 3-4 kgs amounts, hops the same.
The initial outlay seems high until you break it down across the
number of batchs you'd get from a 25kg bag of MO.
On Mon, 29 Jan 2007 22:16:04 -0400, jason
I made an error in the original post--meant to say $20 a case, not
$40. I can't make it as good as Sam does. Anyway, do the kits make
sense, or are the ingredients "stale?" Buying in bulk makes sense,
though it seems like for every batch I use different malts.
As usual I live in a limited place when it comes to buying local but
what I have found.
If I buy my own recipe I will pay about $40 for 5 gallons. That is
grains, hops, and yeast. My alcohol level is general somewhere
The Brewers Best kits generally run about $25 at my local
store and comes with
around 6lbs of malt (syrup or dry), yeast pack,
grains, hops, bag for grains,
bottle caps, and priming sugar.
A friend of mine that has recently gotten into the hobby has made
kits and has stuck to the kits only. Generally a kit is
set up to give you a
good flavor for the type of brew you are making
with around 4-5% alcohol by
volume. Drinking these I can say they are
good but then I could buy something
off the shelves with about the same
taste and kick.
For me I normally will add in around 3 more pounds of malt and usually
pound of corn sugar just to add a bit more kick. In the end I
spend about $25
on a kit, $10 on some extra malt, and $2 on some sugar.
So I have about $32
invested plus I get the caps & bottling sugar to add
on to the savings. So I
save somewhere around about $9 per 5 gallon
Not only that but my batch still has the flavors the kit was going for
people can get that buzz factor on around half the brew. OK so
many say taste
is more important than kick but if I can get a tasty
brew with kick then there
you go, best of both.
Depends on what you mean by "kits" and where you get them, DJ. When I
don't make one of my own "recipes", I either pick up a "recipe" from the
LHBS or order from an online shop. They aren't a prepackaged "box" like
Coopers, John Bull, or Brewers Best. They are ingredient kits put
together in house to make a certain style. When I get the ingredients
from the LHBS, they are from bulk containers, for the grain and extract,
that they measure out the specific amounts of a said ingredient. The
hops and yeast come out a fridge. One shop buys bulk hops and then
breask them down to 1oz bags, another has them prepackaged. I usually
use liquid yeast. Again this depends on where I get my "kits" from but
I usually use White Labs and if I can't get that I try to get a
comparable strain from WYeast. I haven't tried any of the prepackaged
kits, but if you trust your shop keep, check for an "expiration" or "use
by" date, and buy fresh yeast, you should be fine. About the only
ingredient I buy in bulk is DME for making starters.
Hope that helps.
I just started with making beer with kits that made from malt extracts and
they ranged from $20 to $40. I now do all grain and started with kits from
Midwest supply that range from $15 to $20 for 5 gallons.
I now do all grain in bulk, it is costing me about $7 per 5 gallons for a
dark beer and something like Budweiser is about $2 for 5 gallons not
counting bottles or caps.
Buying in bulk helps a lot. My base malt is bought in 25kg bags, crystal
etc I buy in 4kg ish amounts, hops are purchased the same way. The
initial outlay seems large but when you break it down to cost per batch
it's really quite inexpensive.
Now for more questions! Because of the many, many recipes out there,
it would seem to me that if you bought in bulk, you'd have many, many
vessels of various grains hanging around right? I mean, let's say I've
got an all grain recipe that calls for 8 pounds of Klages malt, 1
pound of light Munich, 1/4 pound each of 40L and 80L crystal. So, you
buy everything in bulk, you've got all of those grains around, you've
used a small part of them. Your next recipe may call for totally
different grains, right? (bear with me here, I'm an extract brewer at
Well ales all basically have a standard base malt, crisp or 2 row etc.
so that's easy, just buy one big bag.
But yes it does get interesting when it comes to the rest. One has to
improvise and adapt. I've done batchs that called for crystal XX but
I had crystal YY so I have to adjust accordingly. Yes it won't turn out
exactly as planned but it will still be beer.
Basically the crystal I have falls into one of 4 catagories. A light,
medium, dark and really dark (Crystal 120 currently).
I'd love to be able to do a container of 10, 20, 30, 40 etc.
but that's just not possible due to money and space limitations.
You'll run into this as well when it comes to hops. I'm making an Irish
Red shortly that uses a lager hop, I don't have that hop so I'm
just adjusting the recipie to use what I do have in the freezer.
So, seeing how most recipes only use a part of a pound of crystal, do
you still buy those in bulk, like 25 pounds? What do you store them
in? So when a recipe calls for Klages malt, you just use whatever 2
row you have? Like the example, you have Klages malt, and light munich
malt, what would you substitute? I guess what I"m asking is if and
when I go all grain, what base types of malts and crystal should I buy?
In bulk yes, in bulk in 25kg amounts no. The only thing I buy in that
size is the base malt, personally I prefer MO Crisp. The speciality
grains get purchased in 3-5kg amounts depending on what it is, how much
I use etc.
If the recipe calls for 2 row which I don't have I just use the Crisp. I
have one recipe here I made that called for Carafa which I don't have,
so I had to improvise. I believe I used Chocolate, it wasn't exactly
what right but it all worked out nicely in the keg.
The speciality grains get stored in old ice cream buckets that I got
from the local Laura Secord store and the Crisp is stored in a garbage
As to what you should get? Well that would depend on what you like
brewing. Is there a particular style you brew on a regular basis now?
I'm partial lately to bitters, porters and stouts so my speciality
grains, hop and yeast selection reflects that.