Brewing Or Buying Beer – Which is Cheaper?

You have also probably asked yourself, “Is brewing beer cheaper than buying from the store?”

If you are a beer lover, you have at least thought about homebrewing at least once.  

The short answer is yes, but it might be the same and potentially more expensive.

Continue reading to find out why.

Home Brewing And Refrigeration Equipment.

Homebrewing Difficulty

It isn’t difficult.

Homebrewing is possible for those who are willing to follow a recipe. 

Every kit comes with instructions, and YouTube has a lot of videos that can help.

At first, learning new words like “wort chiller,” “carboy,” and “krausen” can be hard to understand. 

Don’t worry, though; it’s nothing you won’t understand by simply searching on Google.

You’ll need to be able to lift a bucket with 5 gallons of liquid in it, which weighs about 40 pounds, and you should be old enough to use a stove safely.

Related Reading: What Is Craft Beer? – Read More Here.

The Real Cost of Brewing Beer at Home

First, let’s make things easier by taking out gas, electricity, and the time and work it takes to make beer at home.

Brewing Equipment

People new to brewing should start with a basic brewing kit, which costs about $200.

This Northern Brewer starter homebrewing kit is perfect because it has everything you need. 

Yes, there are cheaper kits, but you will need good tools if you want to make good beer for a long time.

It’s worth a few dollars more upfront, though.

Recipe Kit

Then we need a recipe for beer and the things that go into it.

A recipe kit can cost anywhere from $35 to $80, depending on the recipe’s fancy. 

From what I’ve seen, the quality of your beer depends more on how you make it than on how fancy the ingredients are.

Beer Quantity

Each batch of beer makes about 5 gallons, which is about 50 12-ounce beers.

Technically, it’s 53 beers, but let’s round down to 50 because some liquid is lost when siphoning, spilling, and tasting.

  • The first batch cost $245 and made 50 beers, each costing $4.90.
  • Second batch: $45 for the recipe equals $0.90 per beer.
  • From now on, each beer will cost 90 cents.

Again, this is the average price. There are ways to lower the initial and ongoing costs of making beer recipes. 

You can try Craigslist or community groups on Facebook.

People often sell or give away their old equipment because they no longer use it or have moved on to more significant, better ways to brew.

Related Reading: Best Water For Brewing Beer – Learn More Here.

Store Costs

Beer prices at the store also vary a lot.

These days, you can get 30 cans of Bud Light for about $15. And a 4-pack of some of our favorite expensive beers, like Delirium Tremens, costs $20.

Back to the store, if we take the average, most beer costs about $10 for a 6-pack or $1.67 per beer.

If you go to bars and brew pubs often, a pint of beer can cost anywhere from $4 during happy hours to $10 at fancy breweries.

From a financial point of view, the cost per beer for homebrew is much lower.

But you must sell more than 260 worth of beer to cover the equipment costs and get started.

After this point, making your beer will save you about 77 cents per beer.

In reality, building and keeping a bar at home costs a lot.

You will upgrade your equipment many times, try many different things, and waste whole batches because they go wrong. 

Sometimes, you’ll also give away thousands of pours to neighbors, friends, and family.

Brewing should be more of a hobby than a way to save money, but if you do the math, you will see that it can save you money.

Length of Time Homebrewing

Customers Enjoying their Their Drink Of Choice From The Selection.

This is what most new home brewers don’t expect.

It is thought that making one batch takes at least 8–9 hours of work and five weeks of waiting.

On the first day of brewing, you spend most of your time, maybe 4–5 hours, making the wort and starting the fermentation process. 

The rest of the time is spent moving (1 hour), bottling (1 hour), and cleaning/sanitizing everything along the way (2-3 hours).

If you add your own time to the equation, it’s clear that homebrewing is not worth the cost. 

At $5 per hour for 8 hours, each batch of beer costs $40 more.

That makes each beer cost $1.70, the same price as a beer from the store.

Related Reading: How To Brew Beer At Home Without A Kit – Dive Deeper Here.

Final Thoughts

Homebrewing beer should be seen as a hobby rather than a money-saving solution.

Though it will save some money, other unexpected costs will eventually pop up. 

Since the costs will ultimately be the same (assuming you drink a lot), homebrewing allows you to control the taste.

The ability to customize and control the flavor to your liking makes homebrewing what it is.