Homebrew economics


My latest homebrew, bottled in plastic because it finished higher than expected and i was worried about bottles going kablooey.

One of the things that appealed to me about homebrewing – and one of the things I tell others thinking about starting – is how cheap the beer is.

That’s ‘‘cheap’’ as in ‘‘inexpensive’’ not as in ‘‘nasty’’.

I have told people, ‘‘you can make two cases of beer for what it would cost you to buy one in the shops’’. And at the entry level, kit-and-kilo stage I’m sure that was true. But now that I’ve moved up a step and am including grains and hops and other ingredients, I’ve been doubting if that cost-effectiveness still exists.

When I bought the ingredients for my last brew (which was bottled last Tuesday) they cost me $76.55. That made Hopless Cause my most expensive homebrew to date. So I kept the receipt with the aim of doing some costings when the beer was bottled.

So, last Tuesday, I dredged up my high school ‘‘Maths in Space’’ skills to figure out how much this beer cost per bottle. I ended up with 23 750ml bottles and so dividing the total ingredient cost by 23, I arrived at the figure of $3.32 per bottle. As a point of comparison, Dan Murphy’s website is selling VB for $5.29 a bottle.
Which means my beer is a $1.97 per bottle cheaper than Victoria Bitter (and, I would hope, will taste a bit better).

Now lets move onto the measure of a case of beer, and whether I’ve just made two cases of beer for what it would cost me to buy one. Okay, ‘‘Maths in Space’’ hat back on and my 23 750ml bottles works out at 17.250 litres. Now, working on the basis of a 375ml bottle, that’s the equivalent of 46 of them. At 24 beers in a case, that means my Hopless Cause is about two cases worth (minus two beers in the second case).

So at $76.55 to make, that means each case cost me $38.27. Using the VB comparison (which was the reason for the 375ml bottle calculation), Uncle Dan’s sells them for $42.99 a case, meaning my ‘‘case’’ of beer for $4.72 less than it’d cost me for a slab of VB.

So it’s clear that I haven’t made two cases for what it would cost me to buy one (because I finished the equivalent of two bottles short) but  I have made beer that costs less per case than a big brand like VB.

And I reckon mine is going to taste better too.

So I’m revising my oft-said homebrewing phrase to ‘‘you can make beer that tastes better than VB for less than it costs to buy a VB’’.

UPDATE: As it turned out, Hopless Cause wasn’t very nice. So, while this specific beer ended up not being better than VB, other brews of mine have. So I think my overall point still stands.

6 replies »

  1. OK step 2 for maths in space, include the cost of the equiptment, power, gass and other ingredients. I got half through that once and decided I should stop, but I was looking at a batch with over 350g of hops in a 25 l batch, as for the equiptment just dont start

  2. ok, lets look at why one would DIY to make beer.

    To save money,to prove that it’s possible to make it less expensive than someone else

    to gain a new culinary experience brewing beer

    social acceptance

    to gain knowledge about the brewing process to know what goes into a bottle of beer/wine, tasting, smelling, throughout the brewing process

    it’s fun

    to make money, start a new business, to attain employment in the beverage industry

    to say “I made that”

    Because it taste better

    for the creativity of crafting a unique product

    meeting a challenge/competition

    a new activity\hobby to replace a former activity\hobby

    to share with other home brewers

    because it’s cool

    because you like to brew beer

    because you like to drink BEER !

    One comment home brewers face after sharing their brewing experience and beer with people is “I just go to the corner package store if I want beer”………………. !!!!!

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