Brewing on a Budget

It goes without saying that money is a concern for anybody. Though brewing a batch of beer is a relatively cheap endeavor, buying the initial set of equipment might end up being quite expensive, running home brewers anywhere between $100 to over $500. When living on a budget, this can be a large chunk of cash.

However, there exist many different ways to brew on a budget and save money overall. These provided tips can be used by anyone who is looking to save some money and will be most beneficial to those who have not yet bought any equipment.

  1. Check craigslist for anyone who is selling equipment, or consider posting a message asking for anyone who wants to sell their equipment. Use this listing in order to find carboys, buckets, bottles, airlocks or anything that is available. There are a number of brewers who are looking to get out of the game and want to get rid of their equipment for a small price.
  2. Whenever available, try checking out second hand stores, pawn shops or garage sales. Someone might have a few pieces of equipment for sale.
  3. Consider buying plastic buckets instead of glass, because it is significantly cheaper. Only five gallons are necessary so try heading out to a local deli or a local bakery to get their buckets before they throw them away. Make sure they are not pickle buckets and make sure they still have the caps.
  4. Dollar stores are a good source for other small bits of equipment that may be of use to home brewing, such as thermometers, stir spoons or even measuring cups.
  5. Stainless steel may be something that could be of particular difficulty to find at a second hand store. If this cannot be found, trying locating some enamel coated aluminum pots, as these are a bit more common to find.
  6. Regardless of whether it is dry or liquid, reuse the yeast. It will need to be stored in glass jars and using some dry malt extract will be able to help with storing the scavenged yeast from the fermenter. Yeast can be reusing several times, which cuts down on the cost and can even provide a home brewer with healthier yeast. Buy those glass jars knew, however, unless it can be guaranteed that nothing poisonous, such as cleaning chemicals or motor oil, have been stored in these jars before.
  7. Lightweight scales can be found at major discount retailers, such as Wal-Mart, generally for cheaper than a local homebrew shop.

The following is a chart that provides an example on achieving cheap homebrew equipment, under the assumption that one already has the basic kitchen utensils, in addition to a brew pot that can be used for cooking. Also, keep in mind that all of the prices are approximate:

  1. A plastic bucket with a lid – can be obtained for free from the bakery, or can run upwards of $5 at the store.
  2. Four feet of 3/8-inch plastic tubing for siphoning – $2
  3. A bottle capper – $12
  4. Bottle caps – $4
  5. A stick-on thermometer for the bucket – $3
  6. A hydrometer – $7
  7. Bottles – try getting some from friends, though they may be obtained at the store for about $5
  8. Basic ounce measuring scale – $5

Overall, these items will generally run a bill of about $40. This also assumes that there are already measuring cups, a long handle spoon, a regular thermometer, as well as basic cleaning supplies are present. This equipment will allow for a single stage of fermentation and intends to provide some knowledge on how to obtain the basic supplies for a pretty cheap cost. Though a $100 kit is clearly not necessary, it might do one well to purchase a full two stage kit. However, if a budget is necessary or if this is not yet a definite hobby, taking this budget into consideration is the way to go about things.