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I Brew Beer For Fun And To Save Money

Brewing Beer at HomeMost readers and visitors of Debt Roundup know that I am a fan of DIY.  I love to use my hands to fix and make things.  It gives me a great sense of job and accomplishment.  It also allows me to use my creative side.  You would also know that I have a hobby fixing cars, especially Jeep Wranglers.  I have had three Jeep Wranglers since 2009.  I have fixed one up, brought back one from the dead, and bought one from my brother.  Yes, it is an expensive hobby, but I really do enjoy it.  One thing that you might not know about me is that I also brew my own beer. Yes, I am a home brewer!  I started this back when I was in debt as something to do in order to keep my mind off being in debt.  Plus, I love beer!  I just spend this past weekend bottling my latest brew, a Spring Bock!  This was my first attempt at the lager process, so I am excited to taste it.  The picture to the left was the start of the brewing process.

My Eyes Opened to Home Brewing

I have always thought about brewing my own beer, but never knew how to do it.  I thought it was too time consuming and that I wouldn’t really enjoy it.  Luckily, my lovely wife pushed me to try it.  I was reluctant at first, but after I tasted my first brew, I was freaking hooked!  Yes, it does cost some money to get started, but there are a large number of kits out there to help you through it.  There is a beer brewing store near me and they were very helpful in getting me off and brewing.  Now, I can’t get enough of it.

There are so many types of beers, different ways of brewing, and processes.  It can be overwhelming, but it also can be awesome.  You get to experiment with the flavors and types of beers that you enjoy.  You can buy a simple kit or you can make your own flavor combination that suits your tastes.  The options are wide and diverse.

I Brew Beer for Fun

The main reason why I home brew is because it is fun.  It does take up some time, but there is nothing better than creating your own brew, especially if you are drinking a great beer while doing it.  When I brew, I get to take my mind off of work, step away from the computer, and just worry about making an awesome beer.  There is some science and math involved, but it is not too hard once you figure out the basics.  If you are on the fence about brewing your own beer, I say try it.  You might find that you really like it.

Tasting your own creation is what does it for most people.  I love cracking open an ice cold beer in general, but when it was made with my two hands along with my mind, it makes it so much better.  It is truly fulfilling to me.

I Brew Beer to Save Money

beer brewing at home

My latest home brew before being bottled!

Didn’t you just say that it costs money to get started, Grayson?  Why, yes I did.  Glad you were paying attention.  While it does cost money to get setup, the ongoing costs are much cheaper than going out and buying a microbrew.  Now, you see that I said microbrew.  The reason is that you can’t really save brewing your own beer when you compare it to the price of crappy and mass-produced beer.  I can’t make it cheaper than Natural Light, but the taste is 50x better!

In my area, it costs about $9 for a six pack of microbrews.  I am not sure how that is in different areas of the country, but this is my damn cost savings experiment.  When I make my own beer, I brew anywhere from 40 to 100 depending on the type.  For this costs savings statement, lets say that I am brewing 40 beers, which I currently am right now!

For the materials to brew the beer, it costs me about $30 for 40 beers.  If I were going to buy 40 microbrews, it would cost me close to $60.  Now, that is a cost savings of 50%.  I can deal with that!

Update: For those wanting to know about true savings, it took me 3 batches in order to break even on the start up equipment.  Considering I have brewed many more than that, I am good!

Along with saving money, home brews are a great gift for friends and family.  I have gifted my dad one of my home brews for Christmas one time and he loved it. I even created a label with his face cartooned on it.  It was awesome.  He still remembers that gift to this day.

Where Will This Lead?

I was talking with J. Money, from Budgets Are Sexy, and he was asking me about my home brewing.  I have had a dream since I got the passion for this to make it into something more.  I hope that I can turn this into a business.  It would turn my passion into my livelihood.  I think it would be awesome.  There is a town in the mountains of NC that is the second best brewing area in the country.  That would be a great place to start a little brewery.  Also, my wife has always wanted to move there.  I not saying it will happen soon, but that is where I would like to take this.  I know it can be expensive to get into brewing, but if you have a passion for something, I say follow it!

Do you brew your own beer or have you thought about trying it?

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About the Author Grayson Bell

I'm a business owner, blogger, father, and husband. I used credit cards too much and found myself in over $75,000 in debt ($50,000 in just credit cards). I paid it off, started this blog, and my financial life has changed. I now talk about fighting debt and growing wealth here. I run a WordPress maintenance and support company, along with another blog, Eyes on the Dollar, which is another great personal finance blog.

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60 comments
DC @ Young Adult Money says February 3

I have a few friends who have given this a try, but I don’t drink beer (haven’t for three years) for a lame reason: my sinuses feel like they are going to explode! Maybe in a year when my allergy shots have fully started to work I’ll start drinking beer and consider home brewing. Seems like a frugal (and fun) activity for people who do drink, though!

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    Grayson Bell says February 4

    I don’t know if I would consider that a lame reason DC. I wouldn’t drink beer than either.

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Matt Becker says February 3

I’ve never brew my own beer but I helped my old roommate do it. Even the first few batches were pretty good and he got better pretty quickly. The only issue for us was storage since you have to let it just sit for a few weeks. But otherwise it was pretty simple and made some good beer!

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    Grayson Bell says February 4

    I just use a 6 gallon bucket (food grade) and it just sits in the closet. When you have to let it sit in the bottles, there are quite a few places around my house that I can keep it. It doesn’t take up that much space.

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Holly@ClubThrifty says February 3

Sounds like a fun and productive hobby to me =)

My sister makes her own wine. I’m not sure if it’s cheap but they do seem to enjoy it.

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    Grayson Bell says February 4

    I am not sure the cost of making wine. There are kits at the beer store where I get my supplies, but I have not cost compared.

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E.M. says February 3

That would be really cool if you could launch your own brewing business. My ex had a lot of coworkers who loved to brew their own beer, and actually held a little competition once a month at one of their houses. They would try all the samples and pick the winner. Seems like a fun version of a drinking potluck! I don’t drink beer, but I imagine if you have a passion for it, this is a neat hobby.

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    Grayson Bell says February 4

    Hopefully one day I can get there, but I am not driving for that goal just yet. There are too many moving parts when brewing beer and a lot of start up costs for a brewery.

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Tonya@Budget and the Beach says February 3

I think that is just such an awesome hobby!! I’m “sort of” interested, but I think I have too many other hobbies that take up too much of my time right now, but I think it’s great you do that! And I LOVE a good craft beer too, so if you go to fincon, bring me one…please? 🙂

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    Grayson Bell says February 4

    That is the great thing about making beer. It really only takes a few hours to brew, then it just sits there. It takes a little more to bottle and then sits there some more. There is plenty of time for other things!

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Gus says February 3

It’s addictive! Once you brew a few batches, you will want to try new recipes and upgrade your equipment.

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Shannon @ Financially Blonde says February 3

Here’s my issue with home brewing, every time I see the pictures of actually doing it, it seems like you are running some crazy meth lab and it freaks me out. But I have a brother in law who is really into it as well, and I love when people are passionate about something and especially if it saves money in the long run.

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    Grayson Bell says February 4

    Haha, I am certainly not doing that. I am not in breaking bad over here Shannon.

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Raquel@Practical Cents says February 3

Sounds like a fun hobby for you. I’m not a beer drinker but I do love wine. I wonder if that would be expensive to make on my own?

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    Grayson Bell says February 4

    There are many wine making kits as well out there. I would say jump online and see what you can find. It is always worth a try!

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jefferson says February 3

Awesome, Grayson. I would love to home-brew, but just don’t have the time or space to dedicate to this currently. I think your passion for this is pretty evident. Perhaps you should start a niche site!

HomeBrew Roundup, anyone?

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    Grayson Bell says February 4

    Not sure if I would start a niche site for it. The thing about time and space is that it takes up very little of both. You can brew your batch in a couple of hours, then it sits for days. You take a few to bottle and then it sits. If you get some of these kits, you can stick all your materials right in the bucket. Doesn’t take up much space at all!

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Michelle @fitisthenewpoor says February 3

I wish I could do this with vodka. I’d save a lot of money doing that (jk!… sort of…).

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Bill Nast - Finance Squiggle says February 3

A cool hobby, for sure, and rewarding for those who get it right. A couple of my friends who do it swear by it. Not easy to get right on the first try, however. We tried it once in college (admittedly…a haphazard effort) and the final product was a disaster.

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    Grayson Bell says February 4

    Sorry to hear that you have a bad experience the first time around. Most kits out there explain how to do it to the T. If you follow the instructions and sanitize your equipment, then you should be on your way to drinking your own beer.

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Josh @ CNA Finance says February 3

Hey Grayson, you know, I have tried to brew my own beer. I purchased the make your own beer barrel at Walmart for $20, and price per beer was pretty low, about $.70. The only problem, the beer tasted like crap. I mean it man…it was bad. I need a new recipe!

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    Grayson Bell says February 4

    Yeah, those kits are terrible. They are not worth the time or money. If you want a real beer brewing kit, you need to either go online or see if there is a store near you.

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Mel @ brokeGIRLrich says February 3

My boyfriend loves home brewing and has also more than broken even cost wise. I think he mostly just likes playing the mad scientist with his different recipes. I’m not a huge fan of beer and occasionally he manages to brew some that even I like, so I’d agree there are certainly worse hobbies.

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    Grayson Bell says February 4

    It is really fun playing mad scientist. You get to come up with your own recipes and flavor combinations. It can be really enjoyable.

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John S @ Frugal Rules says February 3

Very cool sir! I started homebrewing about a year ago and was hooked pretty much instantly. It does cost a bit to get started, but my wife got it for my birthday a year ago so the cost wasn’t much at all to me. 😉 A six pack here in Omaha for a decent microbrew is going to run me at least $9-10, so it works out in the long run. We have a nice spicy winter lager that we bottled about a month or so ago that I plan on trying out some time this next week or so.

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    Grayson Bell says February 4

    It is quite addicting. Glad to hear about your spicy winter lager. Are you actually putting it through the lager process or just letting it sit at room temp?

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jane savers @ solving the money puzzle says February 3

One of my sons tried a brew kit from the hardware store. A cap on the big plastic tub blew off and hit the basement ceiling and frightened the heck out of me. Of course my son was not home when this happened so I was stuck cleaning it up. Lots of beer was spilled and my house stunk for days.

I informed him that he could try home brewing again when he had his own house.

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    Grayson Bell says February 4

    Hmmmm…that sounds like he didn’t have his airlock on or there wasn’t an airlock for the top. That allows the air to escape without letting more air in. That is the only way I can see the top blowing off.

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Justin @ Decisive Dollar says February 3

This hobby really seems to be taking off and sounds like a lot of fun. Pretty cool to be able to create something that’s so easily shared with others.

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    Grayson Bell says February 4

    There is a big push for craft beers out there and I am glad to be a part of the scene.

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David says February 3

Great idea.
About how much does it save you a month?
I am kind of curious to know if it is a better idea to make my own.

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    Grayson Bell says February 4

    That I couldn’t tell you. It would really depend on how much you drink per month and how much you brew. Since it is a cost savings when you just brew, you are going to save money. Breaking it down on a monthly cost scale would be difficult.

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Travis @debtchronicles says February 4

I brewed my own beer once in college. While you have to be 21 to purchase alcohol, you only have to be 18 to purchase the kits to make alcohol. LOL….it didn’t turn out very well. We filled the bottles a little too much, and the carbonation process built up just a little too much pressure in the bottles. When we opened them it all fizzed up and swirled the sediment from the bottom of the bottles in with the beer again. Oh well…if we would have tried again we could have learned form our mistake. 🙂

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    Grayson Bell says February 4

    That is the funny part Travis. You can brew your own at 18. Ah yes, you can really cause problems by filling the bottles too much. I have a filler that when you fill it to the top and pull it out, it leaves the perfect amount of space for expansion. I have only had one bottle top blast off in the 5 years I have been doing it.

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Lindsey @ Cents says February 4

I love that you love to brew beer! I had a friend in Vancouver that made mead – it was awesome stuff.
You’re right in that it also would make a good gift for people. I like making strawberry jam every summer with my daughter and then I put them in gift baskets I make for Christmas.
It’s pretty cool that it’s cost-effective but I think it’s even cooler that you enjoy doing it and make the time and resources available to do it. Life needs to be a balance of give and take. Cheers! (literally!)

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    Grayson Bell says February 4

    My good friend is making mead right now. We actually brewed our beers together and he also is making his own wine. It is an awesome gift for people as well.

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Pauline @ Reach Financial Independence says February 4

That’s a really cool hobby and I’d love to try although I am not sure about the results in tropical climates. What do you do in summer, does the brewing change with the temperature of the room? I only saw the process one with a guy in Portland. I may buy a car in the US so would have space to bring back a brewing kit. That is a nice and original gift indeed.

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    Grayson Bell says February 4

    It depends on the beer Pauline. You can let beer ferment at a higher temperature, but if you want to lager it, you can use a freezer and a temperature controller. There are quite a few beers that can be brewed at higher temperatures. Temperature swings do affect flavor and fermentation though.

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Peach says February 4

My boyfriend and his friends love to brew their beer but I think I dont like the taste.LOL..
It’ll be perfect if you share me recipes !!!

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    Grayson Bell says February 4

    Home brews tend to have a more complex flavor profile than what you find in the stores.

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Bill says February 4

Wow it looks fun and amazing i’d try to make my own and see how it looks like.

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Jacob says February 4

OMG PLZ BRING ME SOME TO FINCON14!!!

Also, I have a neighbor who homebrews, so that’s how I save money 😉

But srsly, I WILL BE DOING THIS at some point, maybe this summer 🙂

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    Grayson Bell says February 4

    While I would love to Jacob, the last time I tried to travel with some homebrews, I got them confiscated at the airport. They took them out of my luggage because there were no labels.

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Ryan @ Impersonal Fiannce says February 4

It sounds like a fun hobby, and to be honest I’ve considered it in the past, but the cost had deterred me. I haven’t looked into it in a few years, but I might go do that tonight. Maybe an early birthday gift to myself, justified by the savings!

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    Grayson Bell says February 4

    Don’t let the cost get to you. Yes, it can be close to $100 to get started with some descent supplies, but you can easily recover that cost in about 3-4 batches.

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KK @ Student Debt Survivor says February 5

So cool! If we had more space I’d absolutely love to brew beer at home. Crossing my fingers for a big basement someday when we move to the suburbs.

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    Grayson Bell says February 6

    That is the great part about starting out. You only need one bucket (6 gallons) and you are good to go. You can brew about 50 beers and be set.

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Marissa@Thirtysixmonths says February 7

Wow! How I wish I can taste your beer! This is incredibly a fun hobby yet saving more money! Love reading your article.

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    Grayson Bell says February 7

    Maybe one day many people can taste my beer. That is the aspiration for this hobby! Thanks for the kind words!

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joe says February 8

Maybe opening a microbrewer pub/bar is a trade to fall onto if all fails for you. I love real bear and there aren’t many sold around anymore. The large brands dominate the market. Besides, keg beer has a short life and people must be able to sell enough of a particular brand. I hope yours taste good.

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    Grayson Bell says February 8

    I don’t know if I would wait to see if all else fails for me, but I would have to think about it for some time before I jumped in.

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Jenny says February 8

One of my friends has a mini vineyard and the other brews beer at home. I like both ideas yet I can’t seem to commit to either one. I think the brewing is easier.

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    Grayson Bell says February 9

    That sounds cool. I think brewing is easier and you don’t have to grow anything, unless you want your own hops.

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Akamatsu says July 30

Definitely a hobby that takes some time and focus, but can be rewarding, especially if there are more than one or two beer-drinkers in the house.

Akamatsu

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    Grayson Bell says July 30

    It does take time and focus, but the reward is quite nice! I have quite a few friends and family that enjoy a good beer.

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Your Home Brewing says September 15

While the start-up costs can be high by the time you buy all of the equipment you need, like you mentioned, it definitely pays for itself in the long run. And for the most part you can actually brew better tasting beer at home then you’ll find at the beer/liquor store (unless you get into the expensive stuff).

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