Is brewing your own beer saving you money or adding to the tab?
As much as I would like to believe that the hours of brew-time I spend each month are also helping me save money at the grocery store, I think the reality of the situation is that I’ve spent more time and money on beer now than I ever have in the past. Don’t get me wrong, I love brewing beer and don’t mind investing the time and money into my craft – But if I’m being completely honest, part of the draw of homebrewing initially was of course to slash my growing beer tab each month.
So what the hell happened? Am I actually saving money? When will I break even?
Since there are so many variables in play here, I figured the best way to approach the question was to calculate the cost of homebrewing VS. store bought based on several very common scenarios. In order to simplify things a bit, we’re going to assume that each brewer in the following scenarios will consume 2 beers per day, each 5 gallon batch will yield 48 bottles (or 576 oz) and that their alternative store bought variety of beer will be a popular craft beer style(IE not miller lite). Let’s get started…
Scenerio 1: Extract Brewer – Basic Equipment – Bottling
Meet Bob The Brewer. Bob enjoys a nice witbier or amber ale after a long day at the office. And while Bob loves brewing beer, he is perfectly content doing so without all the high end equipment and gadgets. In his first year of brewing, he has managed to only spend about 200 bucks for a basic home brewing kit, kettle and a few other odds and ends to make brew day more manageable. Bob is always watching out for a sale at his local home brew store and discount liquor shop, and because he prefers lighter beers he is often able to purchase extract kits for a fraction of what other 5 gallon kits cost.
- Equipment Costs: $200.00
- Avg Cost Per Kit: $ 30.00
- Store bought 6 Pack: $6.99
So if we take the above numbers and plugin the constants we declared at the beginning of this post, We get the following:
- Daily Cost of Store Bought: $2.66
- Annual Cost Of Store Bought: $972.12
- Daily Cost of HomeBrew: $1.25
- Annual Cost Of HomeBrewed: $456.25 (15 batches)
- Estimated Break-Even: 4.73 Months (142 days)
Finally, If we add the cost of Bob’s initial investment into home brewing equipment, his first year ends up at: $656.25. Meaning that bob saved $315.87 on his yearly drinking budget! Good job Bob!
Scenerio 2: Extract Brewer – Average Equipment – Kegging
Say hello to Ryan the Hop Head. Ryan is obsessed with Belguims & IPA’s, the hoppier and stronger the better! He doesn’t mind forking over 8 or 9 bucks for a decent six pack or $50.00+ dollars to try his hand at brewing the latest Extract IPA kit at his local home brew store.
- Equipment Costs: $700.00
- Avg Cost Per Kit: $ 60.00
- Store bought 6 Pack: $8.99
Let’s plugin the constants once again and see what Ryan’s brewing and buying habits look like over the course of a year…
- Daily Cost of Store Bought: $3.00
- Annual Cost Of Store Bought: $1,095.00
- Daily Cost of HomeBrew: $2.50
- Annual Cost Of HomeBrewed: $912.50 (15 batches)
- Estimated Break-Even: 46.2 Months (1,401 days)
If we are looking at Ryan’s brewing hobby purely by the numbers, after the first year he would have spent $1662.50 on brewing equipment and kits, compared to an estimated $1,095.00 dollars he would have otherwise spent simply buying it off the shelf. Perhaps Ryan should start looking at ways to cut his cost per batch/kit!
Scenerio 3: All Grain – Advanced Equipment – Kegging
Lastly, let’s meet All Grain Adam. Adam is passionate about the beer he brews. He’s in it for the long haul, and doesn’t mind spending some of his hard earned cash to buy some decent brewing equipment. Kegs, a keezer, mash tuns, wort chillers – He’s got it all. Adam has tried every new beer that shows up at his local liqour store and won’t settle for any thing but the best.
- Equipment Costs: $1,500.00
- Avg Cost Per Batch: $ 50.00
- Store bought 6 Pack: $9.99
Again, using our constants – Let’s figure out Adams break-even point:
- Daily Cost of Store Bought: $3.34
- Annual Cost Of Store Bought: $1,219.10
- Daily Cost of HomeBrew: $2.08
- Annual Cost Of HomeBrewed: $759.20 (15 batches)
- Estimated Break-Even: 39.5 Months (1,203 days)
Surprisingly, in just a few years Adam will have made his break-even point sooner than Ryan. (and with much better gear to boot!)
What do your numbers look like?
Everyone’s setup is going to be a bit different, I’ve created the following calculator so you can estimate your own break-even point. Fill in your numbers and leave a comment below to see how you stack up against other home brewers!