After spending way too much money on craft beer the past year, I had quite the revelation that this beer making thing could eventually lead me to save money (gasp). I figured if spend 9-11 dollars on a six pack of something tasty from the store and would go through around 8 or so beers during the course of the week (don’t judge); inevitably the dollars added up. With our newly completed all grain setup, Craig an I could bust out 50 beers (about eight 6-packs for those counting at home) for about 35-50 dollars (depending on the type of beer we are making). The price comparison would break down as such:
Buying Craft Beer (conservatively assuming $9 per six pack) – $1.5 per bottle
Making Craft Beer (assuming $42 per batch) – $ 0.84 per bottle
These costs don’t take into consideration of the cost of equipment which are a sunk cost at this point (I hear Tuff-Huff, my freshman economics professor, whispering in my ear) and inevitably, there will be more things to buy, but still, the numbers almost speak for themselves, the beer we make could be about half the cost of craft beer in the store. Eventually this led me to the decision that I could go without buying beer (unless we’re at a bar, I’m no cheapskate) for the rest of my life. Now I know what you’re thinking, and yes, there are some beers that I just cannot recreate at this point (tasty pilsners come to mind, damn you bottom fermenting yeast) and yes, I will miss them, but this will stretch my imagination and start to get into beers that I normally wouldn’t even consider.
So, to begin this process, I decided I needed a good beer pipeline. “What is a beer pipeline?” you ask, well since beers take a little patience and we are not kegging yet (a topic we’ll be getting into in the next week or so), our beers take about 6 weeks to create (3 weeks for fermenting, 3 weeks to bottle condition). This means that if you make a batch of beer, you will need to get another batch going at some point during that time so that when you run out of beer, you should have another batch of brews ready to drink. A fun project I do is to look at a calendar add six weeks to the current date and see what the day is time of year you fall into. This helps you see what type of beer you will want to be drinking around that time. You can also use this estimate beers that will take much longer, such as a russian imperial stout or a barley wine that could take up to 12 months to condition.
Example, today is 2/16/2012, six weeks from now would be March 29. What’s going on March 29 – well I know that is the beginning of spring in Cleveland (fingers crossed) and I’m sure Craig, @mbm503, @twine23 and myself will be thinking baseball (Tribe home opener April 5). What goes well with baseball? I’m thinking patio beers (self explanatory I believe); perhaps a hoppy amber ale, perhaps one of my new favorite styles, the saison, maybe even a Hefeweizen (which I used to hate but have come to appreciate). I’ll be honest with you, I’ve been thinking Hefeweizen for awhile, and I making a sturdy blowoff tube this weekend that I might need to christen with some Hefe yeast.
So here’s the initial Idea which I will be working on the next couple of days, dare I call it Hafner’s Hefeweizen (I’m physically laughing out loud from this one, maybe I could make the beer stronger the first couple of years then when I start selling it, I lower its power).
4 lbs German 2 Row
1 lbs Munich Malt
6 lbs Wheat Malt
0.25 lbs Aromatic Malts
2.1 oz Acid Malt
0.5 lbs Rice Hulls
Not sure about the hops yet, gonna do some research tonight.
Hefeweizen Yeast (WLP 300)