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Since Christmas, I’ve brewed 10 gallons of beer …so I suppose I’m officially a home brewer!
It’s a blast to drink and share your own brew, and if you stick to extract brewing like I do then it’s easy.
The economics aren’t quite what I expected: a 5 gallon batch (640 ounces) fills about 4x 12-packs. You’ll need one set of equipment (I got a $65 kit) and bottles ($13/12-bottles) then ingredients (~$40) for every batch. If you assume a 12-pack of craft beer costs $20, then you save about 50% per batch after and break even on your equipment and bottle investment around your third batch.
…but that’s not the point any way. It’s the fun of it, the patience of it, the anticipation of the first sip and then the reaction of your first victim(/happy customer!)
The equipment list is pretty short, and fits neatly stacked in the back corner of my closet. Although it might have been a fun project to piece it together myself, I’m glad I got the kit. If you already had a 5-gallon pot, its probably possible to get the job done with 2 standard 5-gallon buckets and a tube. But, it’s much easier to have the lid, airlock, spigot, bottle filler, bottle brush, bottler capper and a few other bits and cleaners.
My first two bees have been a huge success. I tried the Block Party Amber Ale and Kama Citra Session IPA. Both were good, but I definitely prefer the IPA. After 5-gallons worth, I was getting pretty sick of the relatively bland taste of the amber ale. The IPA on the hand, has a nice citrus aroma that I love. I specifically picked a session beer so that I could drink 5-gallons without being a complete waste of life.
Assuming you will be bottling, I highly recommend 220z bottles. You can do the math, but halving your bottling time is quite nice and then you can have “one” especially satisfying beer!