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Sep 7, 2006 04:58 AM

Home Beer Brewing--good or bad idea?

First question: is it completely insane to attempt home brewing in a one bedroom apartment? I tend to think the answer is yes, but maybe it's been done?

Second question: where do I get the supplies? Are there beer brewing stores, or do I go to a restaurant supply store?

Third question: what kind of quantities am I looking at? 12 bottles? 24 bottles?

Final question: what's the typical up front cost? I know it's going to cost me more than going to the store for some beer, but how much more?

I found these very basic instructions on line, but was wondering if anyone had had particularly positive/negative experiences with home brewing.

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  1. I've done it in a studio apartment. Now that I'm renting a house, I much prefer brewing outside with a propane cooker and a seven gallon brewpot. But you can brew in a small apartment. You'll want to wipe down the walls afterwards.

    Yes, go to a beer brewing store, or find a place on-line. You'll find equipment, supplies, and (variable) expertise. Get the book "The Complete Joy of Homebrewing". A brewing store will usually have a package deal on that book, a few small pieces of equipment, and maybe a starter pack for one brew, for $50-100. It's not a bad deal. Restaurant supply stores can sell you pots, though.

    A five gallon batch (the 'ordinary' home-brewer's batch) yields about 30 bottles. So the up-front cost is obviously a lot more than you will recover in one batch, if you get the kit. Your per-bottle cost after you have your basic equipment will run around $0.50, plus fuel for boiling, and time. You may develop an equipment-buying addiction if you ever find yourself in a more spacious house. You save a little money home-brewing, but not a lot.

    More equipment and knowledge will allow you to perform more complicated brews at a much lower price. But by the time you get that deeply into it, you will be too much of a beer snob to worry about price.

    If nothing else, get the book, read it, and figure out the smallest, cheapest, most space-saving brew you can do in your apartment. Do it just once, just to know that you can. Don't forget to drink the beer.

    1 Reply
    1. re: noahbirnel

      5 gallons yields about two cases (48 12oz bottles).

      Homebrewing will teach you a lot about beer; that's what's great about it to me. You can save perhaps a small amount, but that's not the payoff.

    2. Great reply -- you should totally do it! We have modified our operation a bit...and bought a turkey fryer for the huge pot and hopefully some outside brewing sometime. it does take some space, but it's worth it...

      Google "homebrew supplies" and your town/state...there are lots out there. And next time you are at your local brewery, pick up a Brewing News (

      1. Brewing is a fantastic hobby. I started brewing in my college dorm on Long Island, NY. I cooked up the wort in the dorm kitchen and then stored the fermenters under my desk and in odd corners of my room. I only bottled the brew a few times since it is such a hassle. I got hold of a few soda kegs, called cornelius kegs, which are tall and thin and hold five gallons. Those plus a CO2 tank and I was kegging my beer, which made brewing and drinking much easier and more fun.

        In grad school in Seattle I got into it big time and got a job as assistant brewer at an excellent brewpub. At my next grad school in Georgia I had 12 five gallon batches of home brew going at a time, by then I was renting a house. I paid the rent and made money by having $10 a head, all you can drink and eat parties every two weeks. (The food was usually fried catfish and snapping turtle soup since I lived on a cove off a lake and had large fishtraps that provided 5-6, 3-4ft long fish and 2-3 turtles a week.)

        Nowadays I only brew a few times a year and go for unique and interesting brews that I can cellar, such as barleywines and Belgian styles. You can get started for under $100 and spend $25-45 per five gallon batch. Have fun!

        1. I brewed while living in a one-room apt with no problem.

          That link you have in your post outlines some non-standard procedures & ingredients. You will be much better off starting with info from this site:

          This is the home site of the American Homebrewers Assoc. & has the most up-to-date recommendations for ingredients & equipment.

 is one of many online brew supply stores. They have everything you'd need & you can get a good idea of upfront costs by checking out their complete kits (after you learn more about what you want to brew & at what scale).

          1 Reply
          1. re: liegey

            pei, I agree with liegey that the site you linked to has non-standard procedures and ingredients and the link liegey provided to the AHA is the way to go. That site is great and very informative, it's like having someone be there and talk you through the whole process.

            Also on the AHA site you can look up local homebrewing clubs and you will find folks who love brewing and will help you learn everything you need to know.

          2. Thanks everyone! It sounds really exciting, I just don't know if I have room in my life for so many large containers...I love things that "grow" in the kitchen (yogurt, bread starters, kombucha, mushroom plants, herb gardens) but I might need to hold off on the beer.