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The Mans Cave

The Mans Cave was a concept originated long before my time. The men in my family have always had their place of solitude where men could be men and there was no questioning. I now live the city life which means the man cave has been greatly reduced in size. That brought me to create an internet based man cave where all men can join in. Whether geek, gamer, jock, fitness, brewer, BBQ-er, or just looking for a place to read about manly news, you will find a home in the Man Cave

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Monday, February 28, 2011

Budget Brewing for the Homebrewer


So you read our first post, and thought to yourself, "Brewing my own beer actually sounds like fun!"  But then you started thinking about how much it was going to cost you... Enter the Man Cave experts!  Brewing your own beer does not have to be expensive, and with the tricks we show you, it's actually really cheap.  The first thing that must be done when it comes to brewing your own beer is to gather the equipment you'll be using.  Most of the equipment can be found for ridiculously low prices through our Amazon links below, or through other various internet sites.  My personal favorite is austinhomebrew.com.  Their flat rate shipping is hard to beat, and they seem to have just about everything you could want.  Lastly, despite the possible higher costs, the best experiences I have had involve Homebrew supply shops located throughout the country.  The service you receive at these stores can be invaluable.  Enough about where to buy your equipment.  You need to know what to get!

We will discuss it more in depth in later posts, but the cheapest form of brewing that I have found is known as Brew-In-A-Bag (or BIAB).  Brewing this way removes much of the costly equipment from the process and simplifies it as well.  The first thing you are going to need to brew your own beer is a brew kettle. For its price and volume, I prefer the pot that came with my propane turkey fryer.  It maintains heat well, and is tall enough to prevent any sort of boil over.
The price on some of these pots can get to be quite expensive, but this is by far the most expensive piece of equipment you will be buying.  Substitutions for this pot can range from fryer pots to stock pots.  The most important thing is the size.  A 30 qt pot will allow you to boil up to 5 gallons without worry for boil over.  You might even be able to find a Goodwill or a yard sale where someone is selling a large pot for less than $10.

Continuing with the actual brewing process, you will need a basic stainless steel spoon, probably lying around your kitchen, and a couple paint strainer bags from your local hardware store.  Wait, WHAT?? Paint strainer bags?  This is where the brew in a bag process comes into play.  There are several types of brewing, but the cheapest way I have found is all-grain brewing in a bag.  For now, just stick with me and head to Lowes or lowes.com to pick up a couple of these.   Paint Strainer Bags from Lowes.com

For just $3 it is hard to beat the price and quality of these bags.  Do yourself a favor and grab one of the 1-gallon strainers as well.  Now that you have a spoon, your brew kettle, and your bags, you are ready to brew beer.  However, you need somewhere to put your beer in after you boil it so it can ferment.  While there are many debates over what the best container is in which to brew your own beer, I favor two vessels.  For larger batches, I use this:
Now you can buy one online, or do what I did and not pay a dime for it.  Go to any local mom and pop restaurant, or even your grocery store and ask them for a 5 or 6 gallon food service bucket.  Chances are they just throw them away so they should have no problem giving you one.  If you do get one for free, you will have to make some modifications to it, including either adding a spigot to the bottom, or purchasing additional equipment to help bottle your beer.  More on that later...
For smaller batches, I like to use 1 gallon, glass apple cider jugs.  They are available at many grocery stores for around $7 including the juice or cider that comes with them.  Considering you can buy the empty one's online for $8 plus shipping, just buy the one with the cider and enjoy!


So you've brewed your beer, poured it into your fermenter, and now you need one final thing to let it ferment.  These rubber stoppers are necessary to allow your beer to release carbon dioxide but avoid contact with oxygen.  For the penny pincher in all of us, a piece of foil over the top accomplishes this goal, but for ease and security, these 3-piece airlocks are the way to go.
They are inexpensive and easy to clean.

Finally the day has come!  You have brewed and fermented your beer, and now you need to bottle it!  There are tons of websites out there that allow you to buy empty brown glass beer bottles for around $1 a bottle.  Don't do it! From now on, when you buy your beer, just save your bottles!  They can be reused over and over again, as long as they are NOT twist off tops.  From this point, you only need 4 more things:  bottle caps, a bottle capper, and either a bottling wand and racking cane, or a spigot on your bucket.
If your bucket comes with a spigot, or you drilled a whole and added one yourself, then you can bottle directly from it.  If not, you will need to buy a racking cane, which is simply a glass, metal or plastic rod that lets you easily siphon the beer out of your fermenter.  If you do use this process, you will also need what is known as a bottling wand.  This helps to pour the beer into your bottles without spilling too much on the floor.  These two listed are rather inexpensive and highly effective.














This is the last of your equipment!  I know it seems like a lot, but in order to do this process correctly, you need these things.  If you can find any of them cheaper, please let everyone here know.
If you were to buy everything listed on this page, your total set-up costs would amount to about $90.  However, if you were able to capitalize on some of the tips I gave you, as well as use the spigot set-up, your costs would drop nearly $50.  Combined with the fact that a batch of beer with this set-up will only cost around $10, and you will be brewing 4 gallons of beer for just $50.  Each batch you brew would then make this cost even lower, as this set-up can last for a very long time!  If you have any questions, shoot us an email and we will get you an answer!  Come back for the next post where we discuss purchasing ingredients and preparing to actually brew!  Happy brewing and go have a brew while you relax and enjoy this warm weather!


Edit: While homebrewing is legal in most states, be sure to check if it is legal in your state.

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