What is it like to brew beer? Is it hard? Is it cheap?

I've been getting tons of referrals from my comments on SavingAdvice.com and The Washington Post Blog lately. This post is for those people. Welcome and please ask questions! :-)

Some might say that brewing beer is like baking bread, cooking a turkey, wood working or well you get the idea. There's a process involved. It isn't as easy as putting a TV dinner in the microwave. If that's what you want, then stop reading and just go buy the cheapest 30 pack of cans you can find. If you want to see how you can make cheap beer that doesn't taste cheap, read on.

Is it really cheap?

Yes and no. If you are reading this, you already decided you don't want to go buy the cheapest beer out there. You want more. If you typically spend more than $15 a case, then it might be an easy decision to brew your own. If you are tired of drinking cheap beer and you want the stuff that costs over $25 a case, but, you don't want to pay for it, then again it might be an easy decision.

Now the decision gets a little harder. What do I have to do to save money making beer? The truth is, quite a bit. There is a startup cost and work involved. Still not deterred? Well keep reading.

Is it hard?

Do you remember what it was like the first time you made spaghetti? I do. It seemed a little scarey to me at first. Don't laugh, come on now you weren't born knowing this. That's the way I feel about brewing beer. It really scared me the first time I did it. Now I have a hard time relating to people who can't brew beer. I mean it used to be a common household activity back in the middle ages or so I'm told by numerous books. Anyway back to the spachetti. Here are the instructions for making spaghetti from About.com. Yes, there are instructions for such things. Don't worry there are only thirteen steps and few tips ;-)

Cooking Pasta

  1. Fill a pot with one quart of water per serving of pasta (1/4 pound, 100 g)
    you plan to make, and set it to boil.

  2. When it comes to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of coarse salt (a little less if
    it's fine) per quart of water.

  3. Check the pasta package for cooking time. No time? See below.

  4. When the water comes back to a rolling boil, add the pasta and give it a
    good stir to separate the pieces.

  5. Stir occasionally to keep the pasta pieces from sticking to each other or
    the pot.

  6. A minute before the cooking time is up, fish out a piece of pasta and check
    for doneness.

  7. Fresh pasta (fettuccine, tagliatelle, lasagna) cooks quickly, 3-5

  8. Thin dry pasta (spaghettini, shells, rotini) cooks in 6-9 minutes.

  9. Thick walled pasta (penne, ziti, spaghetti, tortiglioni, etc.) cooks in
    12-15 minutes.

  10. You want an al dente, or chewy texture -- not flab. Taste, or break open a
    piece of pasta to test for doneness.

  11. If you see a thin white line or white dot(s) in the middle of the broken
    piece, it's not done yet.

  12. Test again, and as soon as the broken piece is a uniform translucent yellow,
    drain the pasta.

  13. Sauce the pasta per the recipe and serve it.


  1. To better wed the pasta to the sauce, put the sauce in a broad skillet and
    heat it while the pasta cooks.

  2. Drain the pasta when it's just shy of done and stir it into the skillet
    before the colander stops dripping completely.

  3. Toss the pasta and sauce over high heat for a minute or two, until the pasta
    is done.
Ahhh...that was easy. Well, it might not be so easy for the unitiated. I mean what if you don't have a pot! What if it boils over? What if you over cook it? What if people don't like it? How do you make the sauce? I think it's the same with beer. If you haven't done it, you suffer from the fear of the unknown. Stay tuned for part two where I outline the process of making beer for the uninitiated.


Anonymous said...

I don't brew to save money. I've never analyzed my actual cost per bottle, but I'd be surprised if I was saving money.

The biggest reason to brew (for me) is that I love the process. I love getting up early on a Saturday morning and firing up the brew kettle. I love the smells associated with brewing. I love having a few pints of homebrew throughout the course of the brew day. I love being outside stirring a pot of wort.

I don't love cleaning my equipment when I'm done, but it can't all be glamorous.

The number one reason to brew is because you are driven to by some interior fire, a passion for making something with obvious and palpable quality. Cheers!

Adam said...

:-) I share your passion.

I do think it is possible to spend less making your own beer. I don't think it is the only reason to do it. It certainly isn't the main reason why I do it.

Up until this point I haven't tracked my cost either, but, some comments on a post by Al over at Hop-Talk got me thinking. How much does it cost? Could I save money?

Bryon said...

Thanks for visiting my blog... I've added you to my list of notable beer blogs!


Adam said...

Took me a minute to find your site. You don't have your profile enabled.


I've added you to the list of sites I'm checking out.