October 23, 2017

The Budget Brewmeister

For a beer lover, one of the most enjoyable hobbies you can pick up is to brew your own beer at home.

Once you get set up with the equipment and basic supplies, it’s a fairly affordable hobby and you will get a lot of entertainment out of going through the brewing and fermentation process. Then once you start bringing out your own home brewed beer, you get the sense of pride because this beer made entirely by you, not to mention the enjoyment of sucking down that hearty blend that you created yourself.

One of the holdups that may have kept you from getting into making your own beer may have the cost issue. If you have ever taken a tour of a brewery and you see the huge machines and storage tanks, it's hard to see how you can do that in your kitchen with just a few simple devices. But there is an entire home brewing subculture that has risen up based entirely on being able to make beer yourself at relatively low costs. Its legal, it's fun and brewing beer can become a major hobby as well.

All that said, it's true that the initial costs can be pretty intimidating. The cost of the pots, fermenters and other specialized equipment can run into several hundred dollars. It's risky to sink that kind of money into a new hobby before you even know if you will enjoy making beer, whether the beer you make will be drinkable or if you will stick with it. And during a time when we need most of what we earn just to get by, that is a risk that may be holding you back from getting into the hobby of home brewing.

Of course one natural solution is to get your first exposure and training in making beer with someone else's equipment. Once you start poking around home brewing web sites and places where the equipment and supplies to make beer are sold in town, you can find out about clubs and societies that are full of people who have taken the plunge and are making beer all the time right at home like you want to do.

These people not only love home brewing, they can become real evangelists for their hobby and with very little encouragement, you can enjoy some Saturdays in their shop or kitchen learning how to brew beer with someone that already knows how.

This kind of experience is priceless because you learn what to look for in equipment and what is essential and what is optional. You can go through the brewing process and learn a lot about how to make actual beer that is drinkable and what pitfalls to avoid. Meanwhile, you may not have spent any more money than to buy your new friend lunch or to bring the pretzels for the tasting party when the beer is done.

But then when you are ready to get started, your knowledge of what you really need will pay off big time. You still don't have to pay top dollar for the equipment to get up and running. Lots of people get started with making beer and for many reasons, their hobby stops suddenly. The outcome is that there is a pretty brisk used home brewing equipment market out there.

You can find discounted equipment in new or like new condition out on eBay or Craigslist all the time. But don't overlook the local sources as those home brewer clubs and associations may have bulletin boards with listings of people who want to sell their equipment. Pawn shops in the area are another great resource.

Another great way to save money is to go together with a friend and buy the equipment together and split the costs all the way down the line.

This makes brewing beer more fun and social and each of you can have the equipment and supplies home at different times to get to know it and learn to make good beer separately so you can make great beer together. And who knows, you may get so good at it that you start selling your beer to local pubs. And when the big bucks come rolling in from that, your investment in learning to brew beer will really look good to you.


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