Life / Food

How brewing your own beer could save you $532 a year

Why craft beer at home? It’s cheaper than bottled water.

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I have often said that if beer is an acquired taste, then you might as well acquire a taste for cheap beer.  

Many brew aficionados would disagree with my assessment of adult beverage choice, claiming instead that something as precious as a lager, stout or ale should be savoured as a delicacy and that intense scrutiny should accompany every sudsy indulgence.

Luckily there is a solution that can satisfy both my quest for fermented frugality and the pristine palate of beer connoisseurs: brewing your own hops-filled masterpiece.

A five-gallon beer kit can be purchased for about $30, depending on the recipe you want to brew. Add another $10 for yeast and bottle caps, and the input costs will run you around $40. Five gallons is roughly equivalent to fifty-three bottles of beer. This gives us a per-beer cost of about 75 cents — that’s cheaper than bottled water!
In much of Canada, even the cheapest discount beers cost $1.40 per 341 ml serving. 

The “middle class” of beers such as Labatt Blue or Molson Canadian, often come in around $1.60.  This is of course assuming you’re purchasing your poison of choice at a vendor and not in a bar or restaurant — where of course the per-serving cost skyrockets.

If we assume that the average beer-drinking Canadian consumes a 12-pack in an average week, and that they prefer a popular domestic vintage, the weekly cost would be $19.20 or just under $1,000 annually. Self-brewing by comparison could net you the same amount of beer (at a higher alcoholic content if that’s what you’re into) for $9 a week, or $468 over the course of a year.  That’s an annual savings of roughly $532 — not counting any drinks you save yourself from purchasing in a bar or club.

There are some initial start-up costs and depending on how fancy you want to get, they can range from 50 bucks to more than $200. As always, looking around online or checking out some used equipment can save you some hard-earned cash.  Often you can find brewing kits that have barely been taken out of the box when looking online, and as a one-time cost, it’s definitely worth it if you use the kit for a couple of years.

There is no telling how much your own time vs. beer crafting enjoyment value ratio will play into our brewing equation. I know some people who love making their own beer so much that they would pay a premium do so, while others see it as a little hobby that can help them stretch their entertainment budget. Take pride in your brewmaster skills and enjoy one for me this summer, Canada!

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