Brewing your own beer isn’t just something that gives you serious bragging rights. It can be a money-saver, too.
In a comparison last year, the math put home-brewers ahead by $62 a year, assuming they drink a six-pack a week and would otherwise have bought a middle-of-the-road brand costing about $7 per pack.
But that’s if you aren’t particularly savvy about your costs.
Here’s how to make your home brewing translate into bigger savings:
“Don’t buy bottles,” says Gary Glass, director of the American Homebrewers Association. “Reuse them.”
Previously-enjoyed bottles (from a commercially bought brew or a homemade one) can be sanitized and used again.
Cash back and coupons, combined, can add up, says home brewer Brent Shelton, a blogger with FatWallet.com.
Home Brewing site Midwest Supplies offers 2.5% cash back through FatWallet, and Shelton says there are often free shipping and other coupons that you can take advantage of.
“Hops are expensive, so choosing to brew beer styles that use fewer hops can save money,” Glass says.
Shop holiday sales
Get on the email and mailing lists for your favorite supply sites, says home brewer Alexandra Wolf.
“They’ll often do promotions over holidays—Memorial Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day—where you can save a percentage off of your purchase,” she says. “If you buy in bulk on those days you’ll save between 10-25% on your brewing materials.”
Buy in bulk
“Try to buy some of your main ingredients in bulk,” Shelton says.
Buying a 50-lb. bag of 2-Row Grains can save you 50% or more per batch, versus buying in 5-lb. bags. Hops can also be as much as 50% cheaper by the pound than by the ounce, he says.
Well, even more so than you’re already doing.
“Malted barley is much cheaper than malt extract,” says Glass. “Switching to all-grain brewing will incur an initial cost in equipment, but will result in savings on ingredients over time.”
You can also make yeast starters to build up yeast to pitching quantities, instead of pitching multiple packages of yeast, he said.
Use your network
When you need equipment, check in with local brewers clubs. Members may have equipment for sale as they upgrade, Shelton says.
“They’re usually willing to part with the equipment at much better prices than you’ll find on eBay or Craigslist,” he says.
Frugal Foodie is a journalist based in New York City who spends her days writing about personal finance and obsessing about what she’ll have for dinner. Chat with her on Twitter through @MintFoodie.