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Homebrewing on a Budget

2011 January 25
by Chris

Yes, this is essentially a wedding blog, but I wanted to throw in a little of my own flair, in fact, we’re thinking of having some homebrew beer for all of our wedding guests!  Soooo, why not let you know what it takes to brew a batch of beer (on a budget!).

Fermenter in the coat closet

The coat closet turned fermentation room

Homebrewing my own beer has been a hobby of mine for a couple of years now.  I first started while in college when a few of my buddies and I all chipped in to buy a brewing equipment kit and a stock pot from TJ Max.  The process has been fun and I’ve learned a lot.  I have invested some money in equipment, but now it only costs me about $25 to brew 50 bottles of beer.  That’s 50 CENTS per bottle!

If this sounds like something you’re interested in, be warned, it is a time-consuming processes and requires a lot of TLC, but the end result is well worth the effort.  In this post, I wanted to just give a basic into to answer the question, “what all do I HAVE to buy to brew my own beer?”  And while that question depends on a lot of things, I’ll try to sum it up and provide some good links where you can research further.

You first must decide if you are in it just for the novelty of creating a batch of beer or if this is a hobby you could see yourself doing for years to come.  I know that is a tough question to ask before you start, but if you just want to

make a batch or two then move on to some other manly hobby, then you can get by on the cheap by simply getting a Mr Beer brewing kit or other similar sets (starting around $40).  However, if you really want to learn how to brew the right way and want to make batches of 5 gallons or more, or are wanting to make this a lasting hobby, I would recommend in investing in one of the True Brew equipment kits or other similar starter kits.  They typically run $70-$100+, but the one linked above is only $55 plus s&h.

I am going to focus on these kits in this post, as that is what I use.  You can pick one of them up at your local homebrew store.  If you’re in the Chapel Hill or Durham area, I would recommend talking to Nate over at Bull City Home Brew in Durham or browsing Fifth Season Gardening Co. in Carrboro and Raleigh.  The employees at both of these stores are very knowledgeable and will help steer you in the right direction.

Once you have the equipment kit, the only other item you need is a stock pot or kettle to brew in.  It needs to be at least a 3-gallon size or larger to hold your beer while it boils.  Trust me, boil overs of stick, sweet wort (that’s beer before its…beer), is a MESS!

I got a cheap stock pot that was missing a lid for $15-20 from TJ Max, but you can also find some for decent prices online.

My brewing pot

My $20 stock pot, perfect for brewing small batches!

Now you’re all set, well, except for the ingredients.  But that’s the fun part!  For your first batch, I would recommend the True Brew or Brewers Best extract brewing kits.  They both have a wide selection of beer varieties, so you can pick the style that you enjoy the most.  These can run from $30-$60 for a 5-gal batch depending on the style.

Now start drinking some beer and saving the bottles so that you can reuse them for your own beer!

To sum it up, all you need to start brewing your first batch like a pro is:

  • Equipment Kit (2 6 gal+ buckets w/ lids, airlock, siphon, bottle capper, tubing, cleaning supplies should all be included) <$100
  • Stock Pot/Kettle (lid not necessary): $20-50
  • Ingredients for your first batch: $30-50

TOTAL COST: $150 – 200

While that sure seems like a lot for beer, this is all the equipment you will need to brew for years to come. While you will certainly find yourself picking up other accessories out of convenience, this is all you need.  Each batch will just require a new ingredient kit (less than $1/beer) and some recycled bottles.

fermentor bucket

A fresh batch of Double IPA fermenting

I hope you feel inspired!  If not, you’re always welcome to stop by and try whatever variety of homebrew I have on tap!  Speaking of which – if I DO make beer for the wedding, does anyone have any particular styles they recommend?  What are your favorite beers?  I’ve brewed everything from a Chocolate Mint Stout to Apple Cider and everything in between, so just let me know what you like and I’ll see what we can do!

Related posts:

Brewing Wedding Ale
49 Bottles of Wedding Ale
Building An In-Line Thermometer
2 Responses
  1. September 30, 2014

    Like in the British tradition, this change of Sri Lankan bridal dress is named the
    going away dress, which is worn when the wedded couple are
    about to exit to their Toronto honeymoon. Thoughtful fathers seize this occasion to round-out the bride’s accessories with brand new jewelry.
    To celebrate, we are sharing a few Irish wedding traditions.

  2. December 3, 2016

    I’m impressed! You’ve managed the almost imliesobps.

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