It's easy - You purchase four ingredients to make beer - Hops, Yeast, Adjunct Grain, and Malt Extract (we'll presume water is free).
Buy in bulk and avoid shipping costs, whenever possible - shop around.
Brew On The Cheap!
HOPS: A great place to purchase hops in bulk is HopsDirect.com. Hops at around $10.00 a pound.
Most online stores charge $3 an ounce - that's $48 a pound. You save around $38. You only pay shipping once for the pound rate, not 16 times for the ounce rate.
Even with shipping costs for a pound, it's a bargain. Another great outlet that sells T-90 pellets by the ounce, with very reasonable prices is atonofhops.com.
YEAST: Reuse yeast by harvesting and freezing your yeast. It's fairly easy, and you can have an unlimited supply of yeast. At $6.95 a pop for liquid yeast, it's a notable place to save.
Here are two great articles: Yeast Harvesting & Freezing and
I simply pour thick yeast slurry into a very small tupperware
bowl, ensure there is no air and as little liquid as possible, and refrigerate. The yeast was still viable over 6 months later, when I used it to make a starter.
I reuse my yeast six times from batch to batch and then start over with the refrigerated yeast. In over 30 years of homebrewing, I have never had a problem.
GRAIN: Buy grain in bulk from a place that has set shipping costs - that way, if you load up on grain, it will defray shipping costs. You can get the cost of grain down to around $1.55 a pound if you shop around and buy in bulk.
DME: Don't pay $12.99 or more (plus shipping) for three pounds of DME. Dry malt extract in "bulk" -- six 3 pound bags at $11.89 a bag or four 3 pound bags at $11.99 a bag -- is cheap at DMEmart.com, there is no tax, and shipping is FREE!
OK, how much have you saved on each 5 gallon brew?
$1.50 on Hops per ounce
$6.95 on Yeast
$1.50 on Grain
$4.00 on DME (if you were paying $12.99 for three pounds for DME - increase this if you pay more for DME, or are paying for shipping and/or tax)
That's $13.95 savings per 5 gallon batch.
You can tweak the numbers to match your brewing style, but this is real savings, and it's easy to do.
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