A Cost Comparison of Home Brew Vs. Store-Bought Beer

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To brew one’s own beer is, in my book, one of life’s great pleasures. But, as the Bargain Babe, I’m not convinced that brewing my own beer is any cheaper than buying it from the store. Of course, this is assuming my homemade beer would taste as good as a pint of my favorite store-bought brand.

Well, I finally decided to settle the debate once and for all. Here is my breakdown of home brew vs. store-bought beer.

Does brewing your own beer save money?

First, let’s compare the cost of home brew to the cost of store-bought for an entire year. For the sake of the experiment, let’s also assume that you consume one six-pack a week. I’ll ignore the negligible costs of storage and energy for both methods.

Store-bought beer costs approximately $5-$9, depending on whether you buy an inexpensive brand or fancy schmancy craft beer. Again, for this analysis, let’s assume you spend $7 a week on a middle-of-the-road six-pack, which amounts to $364 (plus tax) a year.

The True Cost of Home Brewing

For home brew, you have to invest in supplies, plus ingredients for each batch.

A basic home brewing kit at MoreBeer.com costs $109. Shipping is free. An ingredient kit, called extract, for mild brown beer costs $25 and makes 5 gallons, or about 50 beers (equivalent to 8.3 six-packs). A tube of liquid yeast costs $5.75 and bottle caps (I’m going to assume you saved empty beer bottles to avoid the cost of buying new ones) will run you $1.50. That brings the cost of your first batch of home brewed beer to $141.25.

That’s $16.95 per six-pack!

However, each additional batch of home brew only costs $32.25 (extract + yeast + caps). A batch makes 8.3 six-packs, so you only have to brew once every two months, give or take. A year of home brewing will cost you $109 for the kit, plus six batches at $32.25 each. That comes to $302.50.

Home brewing saves approximately $62 a year.

Hmmmm…. With that kind of savings, brewing your own beer might not be the kind of money-saving endeavor that would help fund your next vacation or amount to a significant contribution to your emergency fund.

Also, if time is money, that figure doesn’t take into account the hours spent making beer, either. But…. on the flip side, how could I ever put a price on the street cred I would earn for making my own beer?!! Plus, in my opinion, brewing beer sure beats watching TV as a hobby.

The Bottom Line

I’ve made plenty of things myself, like granola bars, bagels, and hummus. When I’m contemplating a house repair, I calculate my own hourly rate to help me decide if I should hire a contractor or not.

But I’m going to add beer making to the list of DIY projects I would never do. It just doesn’t seem worth the dollar savings.

Would you brew your own beer?

Julia Scott founded the money saving and coupon blog, BargainBabe.com.

Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further