The Benefits of Switching to All Grain Brewing

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

By default, brewing your own beer saves you money. This wonderful fact was one of the reasons I began to brew and continue to. Sure, it is also an engaging hobby with excellent products and it will definitely suck up some of your money but there is no need for it to break the bank! The following is a breakdown of the per batch savings you will enable if you switch to all grain.


allgrains.blogspot.com - The Benefits of All Grain Brewing - A breakdown of the per-batch savings you will enable if you switch to all grain.

MoreBeer! Absolutely Everything!

It is an easy task to justify a switch to all grain brewing once you look at the numbers. Sure, the start up cost may seem intimidating but the benefits and savings quickly show through once you compare extract batch cost to all grain (AG). In a later post we will talk about how to avoid spending more than $100 on your upgrade, do not be fooled by these outlandish beer towers and expensive, shiny toys! You can DIY the system yourself for a fraction of the cost.

Ingredients + Utilities = Cost (cost per pint)
(we will be using a 5 gallon batch of a simple 5.3% abv Pale Ale for reference)

Extract Costs
6 lbs Dry, Light Malt Extract ($22.50) + 2 oz Centennial Hops ($3.25)
+ Danstar Nottingham Yeast ($3.50)
$29.25 ($0.81/pint) + Utilities
(prices are from morebeer.com on 10/24/12 - per pint cost assumes .5 gallon loss in fermenter)

Bear in mind that this is an extremely simple (unlikely) recipe and the prices do not include shipping from the warehouse. If I were to buy these same ingredients from my local store the per pint cost would shoot up to $0.97. Remember that morebeer does offer free shipping at certain price points - this should be taken advantage of! Plan ahead and buy more than one recipe at a time.

Utilities are not easy to calculate. If we really wanted to, we could look at our water and gas bills, clearly calculate our consumption of each but this is just not something I am willing to do - especially as a tenant. I am one of the lucky few to not pay for utilities so it is of no concern to me but if you do, you can either do the math (I would!) or you can let it slide under the category of "who the hell cares, my hobby is worth it!"

Alright, now on to AG costs! First we will look at batch cost, then the extra costs of switching to AG.

All Grain Costs
10.25 lbs 2-Row ($12.30) + 2 oz Centennial Hops ($3.25) + Nottingham Yeast ($3.50)
$19.50 ($0.53/pint) + Utilities
(prices are from morebeer.com on 10/24/12 - per pint cost assumes .5 gallon loss in fermenter)

The above calculation assumes a few things along with the note above about morebeer's prices. First, the price of grain is actually based on how much I pay, per pound, when buying a 50 pound sack at my local store for $60 ($1.20/pound). I could potentially pay less but so far the convenience has won the day for me but not the war. Second; an average brewhouse efficiency of 75%. Both of these assumptions and therefore inputs to your equation will vary from individual to individual, however, I believe they are a reasonable estimate for someone who is being resourceful but not trying that hard. The main lesson to take away here is that all grain is (at least 33%) cheaper and along with this allows for more flexibility, control and chances to save money. In a later post I will provide simple advice on how to decrease your per pint costs even more. 

Equipment upgrade costs are what deter many brewers from taking the next step, but not you! In all honesty, I built the only necessary upgrade (a mash tun) myself and spent around $70 doing it. There are many ways to make your own mash tun but I will show you how I built mine in a later post. You could get fancy and buy lots of toys, but how about you make sure you like AG before you do that? Yeah, good call.

Conclusion
Brew all grain! It takes some research, DIY and practice to do it right but the rewards, savings and satisfaction you will get from the process make it a more than worthwhile venture.

Cheers-


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