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5 Tips To Improve Your Homebrew Without Breaking the Bank

We all want to brew better beer right? Well, there are plenty of gadgets and tools out there to help you accomplish this task and a lot of it will cost you a significant amount of dough. Now, while I would encourage you to always buy top quality equipment, it is not necessary to tap into your home equity line in order to make great beer. The following list contains a few tips that will help improve your beer without breaking the bank.

1.     Purchase a Brewing Software

I cannot stress this enough. This is probably the single best investment I have made to improve my homebrew. I use BeerSmith Home Brewing Software  ( as seen here) but there are others out there that will do the trick. By using this software you take much of the guesswork out of the process. You can build and store your recipes, calculate your bitterness, zero in on color and ABV, and print out step by step instructions for your brew day. Price: $27.95

2.     Join a Homebrew Club

Join a homebrew club and be active. You’ll meet some great brewers and great people (beer people are good people). I have belonged to the James River Homebrewers Club for several years now. The membership is strong and very talented. You will learn plenty and be brewing better in no time. Plus you’ll make some good friends in the process. Price: $20/year

3.     Listen to the Brewing Network

Listening to the podcasts and the shows on the Brewing Network will teach you all kinds of great things. You will learn style characteristics of different beer styles, how to clone beers, pointers on building recipes, and much more. Price: Free

4.     Use a Yeast Starter (or Rehydrate)

I know your packet of dry yeast or vile of liquid yeast says you can just pitch into a 5 gallon batch of wort. Well, you can do this but the number of active yeast cells in those containers is nowhere near what you need to ferment your wort properly. For example: a single vile from White Labs contains between 75 and 120 billion viable yeast cells. According to Mr. Malty, for a 5.25 gallon batch at 1.048 OG you will need about 150 billion viable yeast cells. A I liter starter will get you to 150 billion in 12 to 18 hours. Price: $20ish (Flask)

For Dry yeast, there are about 20 Billion viable yeast cells per gram. A Safale packet contains 11.5 grams. So, you have plenty of cells available. You just need to rehydrate it properly before you pitch.

5.     Always use Fresh Ingredients

All beer ingredients (except water) have a shelf life. Most homebrew shops turn over their inventory fast enough to keep fresh ingredients on the shelves. If you are buying in bulk or not brewing right away make sure you store everything properly. Keep your grains cool and dry. Keep your yeast in the refrigerator and keep your hops in the freezer. Price: $0

So, there you go. Five easy tips and you still have enough money left over to buy ingredients for your next batch.

I’m always looking for tips that others use to improve their brewing. If you care to share your secrets I’d love to hear them. Please leave comments below.


Happy Brewing!


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7 Responses to 5 Tips To Improve Your Homebrew Without Breaking the Bank

  1. Hi, thanks for the tips.

    I’ve found that a good way to lower costs is to reuse the yeast.

    You can harvest it from bottles, or take it straight from the fermenter (yeast washing) after siphoning out the beer.

    If you wake the dormant cells with a yeast starter you’ll improve your chances of a good fermentation (as you mentioned above), saving cash and improving the beer at the same time.

    • Hey John- Good advice. I just started harvesting and washing yeast myself. I’ve managed to save a few bucks and now have a pretty good stash stored up. Thanks!

  2. This is all completely true.not only have I learned so much from my homebrew club but I’ve saved so much money joining a homebrew club too. Group buys is the way to go. Plus 1 on harvesting yeast as well.

  3. Hey Kyle- Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. Happy Brewing!

  4. Helpful list!

    I second the awesomeness of yeast starters and harvesting/washing yeast.

    Another tip I’d throw out there is freezing leftover hops. My mother in law got me a foodsaver (cool kitchen device that pulls the air out of a plastic bag and seals it up) and I’ve been using it to freeze any leftover hops from my brewdays.

    I’ve found the hops stay pretty fresh for 5+ months using this method, which will help save money in the long run.


    • Hey Steve,
      Great tip. Can’t believe I left this one out! The “Foodsaver” does a great job keeping things fresh. Thanks for putting it out there. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Your tips are good. They are certainly inexpensive. Yeast starters and the Brewing network (or a good homebrew club) will make a huge difference.

    I always tell new brewers to focus on 3 things.

    1. Clean and Sanitize — Be certain that you have this process down. You simply can’t make good beer without a clean/sanitary process.

    2. Use healthy yeast (as you mentioned). Rehydrate dry yeast. For small beers pitch a vile (or smack pack), for larger beers make a starter. Schedule your brewing so you can re-pitch.

    3. Control the temperature of your fermentation. This one is tough to do on a budget. I recommend trying to find a frig on craig’s list (or similar) and purchase a temp controller. There are cheap ways to get close, but I’m talking about precise control. Find a way to make that happen.

    If you have a decent recipe and can do those things you will make good beer. The brewing network, your homebrew club, and entering competitions can help you turn that into great beer.

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