The Economics of Home Brewing

Economics of Home Brewing

One of the questions we get asked a lot as home brewers is how much does a batch cost.

Being that we took a bunch of economics and accounting classes in college, we have a hard time answering this question. It gets muddled in sunk costs, opportunity costs, and lots of other fun concepts and numbers.

But I figured we would break down a batch to see some of the simple numbers.

Recently we brewed a batch of Pretty Girl Pale Ale, which is a good representative batch being that its a beer with a middle-of-the-road alcohol level (more alcohol means more grain, and therefore more money) and it has a decent amount of hops but isn’t a hop bomb. So here are the components of Pretty Girl Pale Ale, with prices from the website of Northern Brewer, a website we use to order supplies frequently.

Malts

American Two Row Pale Malt: 17.5lbs x 1.36 lb = 23.80
Vienna Malt: 4lbs x 1.80 lb = 7.20
Crystal 10L Malt: 1 lb x 1.99 lb = 1.99

Hops

Columbus Hops: 1oz x 1.50 oz = 1.50
Cascade Hops: 3oz x 1.50 oz = 4.50
Amarillo Hops: 1oz x 1.99 oz = 1.99

Yeast

Nottingham Dry Yeast: 1.60

Totals

Malt: 32.99
Hops: 7.99
Yeast: 1.60
All in 42.58

Now, this is for an 11 gallon batch. To put that 42.58 into perspective, an eleven gallon batch will yield 1408 ounces of beer, or 118 twelve ounce bottles. On raw ingredients alone, that puts each twelve ounce bottle at .36. Not too bad. But what that number doesn’t factor in is the cost of equipment and the opportunity cost of using your time to make beer versus doing something else.see latest news at http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2015/04/nano-breweries-the-art-and-economics-of-brewing-at.html

Economics of Home Brewing

So what it comes down to is making home brew to save money is kind of a ridiculous proposition. Yes, at this point we can create some tasty, pretty cheap beer. But we don’t want to add up all the money we have spent on equipment, the time we have spent making beer, reading books magazines websites about brewing and the bad batches that haven’t been worth the .36 per bottle. We make beer because we love it, because it’s consistently a challenge and we are engaged by the process, not because we can crank out some cheap hooch.

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