Brew low cost beer. The amount of time you spend on brewing beer makes the small difference in cost between “just OK” ingredients and top quality ingredients a minor point. Either way, the cost of brewing a 5 gallon batch is much cheaper than buying a couple of cases of beer in the store.
Beer is made of cheap ingredients, so it doesn’t hurt to buy the best. Surprisingly, the cheapest way to brew beer gives you the best results: all grain brewing is the cheapest way to brew when grain is bought in bulk.
You do need a grain mill and a mash tun, so there is a small investment in equipment needed. But you should be able to brew excellent quality beer for less than $2 per gallon, and you could brew a mild ale for as little as $1 per gallon, or less than 10 cents per bottle (one gallon is about 10-1/2 12oz bottles). Most of my pilsners are about $1.50 a gallon brews.
Other ways to reduce the cost of your beer are by growing your own hops and reusing yeast from the fermenter. Easy to do, and it means that I don’t have to buy yeast more than once every half year or so. The hops should last e through most of the winter brews. So all you need is grain, which is about $0.70 per pound in a bulk purchase (much of the cost is in shipping).
Beer Brewing Equipment Basic, simple, cheap equipment that gets the job done. Sometimes it adds to the challenge. But through the mystique of brewing and remember that illiterate alewives brewed for centuries using tried and true recipes and procedures before the dawn of kegerators, ph meters or hydrometers.
Beer Keg Brewing. After using bottles for years, you can jump to the corny keg (Cornelius keg). This is an important step because it makes brewing so much easier. You can still bottle, but just a few bottles per batch, and use a corny keg to fill the bottles. You can use corny kegs as secondary fermenting vessels. You can try out method where you leave the beer in the primary for about two weeks until it clears nicely, and then upi carefully siphon it over to a corny, avoiding transferring any trub.
Bulk Purchase of Grain and Hops.I purchased about 300lbs of grain and 5lbs of hops from North Country Malt. I have two bags of pilsner, two of Munich, one of pale ale and one carapils. This should cover my base malt needs for a year. I can make my house favorite recipes (pilsner, altbier, pale ale) with the ingredients I have on stock. I hope to work through this supply in about a year, which is the shelf life. I will also order specialty malts and hops as special recipes require.
Beer Drinking Philosophy. Beer is good food. Beer is healthy when used in moderation. Beer is a great beverage.