Home brewers are a resourceful group that hunt for a home brewing kit, grow their own ingredients, and are always seeking new ways to cut costs without sacrificing quality. All of these innovative ideas are wonderful for the hobby, but it raises an important question: is home brewing more cost-effective than purchasing store-bought beer?
To answer this question, we’ll have to breakdown the average costs involved in store-bought beer vs. homebrew.
To compare the cost of home brewed beer with store-bought beer for one full year, let’s conduct an experiment.
Store-bought beer costs on average between $5 to $10, depending on whether you go for a budget-friendly solution or fancy craft beer. If you spend $8 every week on store-bought beer, your total expenditure for the year is $416.
The Cost of Home Brewing
For home brewing, you have to invest in ingredients, plus supplies for every batch.
The best home brewing kit would cost around $100. The ingredients should be enough to make about 5 gallons, equivalent to about 50 beers (or 8.3 six-packs). Liquid yeast will set you back around $6 and bottle caps will cost around $1.50. This means that your first batch costs around $141.
That comes to nearly $17 per six-pack.
However, your next couple of batches will cost only around $32.25 (yeast, caps, and extract included). A batch yields 8.3 six-packs, which means you only have to brew once every 2 months, give or take. A year of brewing will cost you $110 for the kit, plus six batches at $333 each. That comes to $302.
Homebrewing saves you about $114 per year.
The sub-$1000 number may seem underwhelming and at first, it may appear as if homebrewing isn’t worth your while as a money-saving tactic. At least it wouldn’t be enough to find your summer vacation or contribute to your emergency fund.
Also, let’s not forget the time and patience needed in homebrewing. However, you can’t really put a price on a hobby that you happen to enjoy.
The Bottom Line
Homebrewing is a fun hobby that ultimately feels rewarding when you get everything right. However, you may be disappointed at its money-saving prospects because there isn’t much to be saved. That being said, if you compare the cost of fancy craft beer from the store with homebrewing, then homebrewing is really cost-effective.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you compare the cost of homebrewing to the cost of cheap beer, which can be purchased for less than $12 per six-pack, homebrewing isn’t cost-effective at all and may cost more than store-bought beer. Admittedly, mass-produced beers are less expensive to brew than top quality craft beer.
The real question comes down to what kind of beer you replace with homebrew. If you’re replacing high-quality craft beers with your homemade solution, your cost will go down, and you’ll have perfected a constructive new hobby. However, if you’re content with buying some Old Milwaukee, homebrewing may not save you much.