Is it expensive Fents? Obviously all the apparatus but purely making the beer now you're set up, is it cheap as?
I can brew 22 litres of beer with top quality barley and plenty of hops for less than $30. And it's top shelf beer. Sometimes I'll do a "big" beer (i.e. 10% or greater alcohol) or something with crazy amounts of hops and the costs go up, but even then. Say I brew a barley wine I might spend $50 on ingredients. A bottle of barleywine starts @ $10.
All grain brewing is cheap, once you're setup. It can even be pretty cheap to setup, although if you're like me you'll soon develop a stainless steel addiction and then the costs can start adding up. And you can brew ANYTHING. I've brewed lambic style beers, ridiculously hoppy IIPA's, strong belgian beers, ice distilled beers...
Extract brewing is ■■■■■■ expensive and I don't recommend it to anyone. It's a lot of work, expensive, and if you have the gear to do proper extract you have the gear to do simple all-grain.
Kit brewing is cheap as hell, but you don't have the flexibility and control of the other methods.
Myself, I have an all-grain brewery I've been building for the last 4 years. Every couple of months I buy a new toy for it. But the brewery 4 years ago was capable of brewing beer just as good as the brewery of today, I just like shiny things. I've also got a freezer that I have converted to allow it to store kegs. It will store 5 kegs + gas, served from 3 taps.
how much has your brewery equipment cost to date?
I've gotten a lot of freebies, including pots, fermenters, a fermenting fridge... And somethings like the ball valves and camlocks aren't essential, but...
Burner - $100
Ball valves + camlock fittings - $150
Mashtun (esky, thermometer + copper pipes which i made into a manifold) - $160
Hot Liquor Tun (pot, heating element) - $100
Kettle (a big pot) - $50
Temperature controllers (i've got a few, plus various probes) - $120
Refractometer and hydrometer - $60
Fermenters are cheap. Say $30 (never paid for one)
If you're bottling you'll need:
- Bench capper. $40 ish. Don't get a hand/hammer capper, they suck. Or just go plastic coopers bottles and forget this. Seriously, the plastic coopers bottles are great.
- Bottling wand. No idea. couple of bucks?
My keg setup...
- Freezer: $500. I use a temperature controller to get degree perfect temps. The temp controller get's part time use in the brewery as well
- Wood for sleeve: Free (brother worked in hardwood mill)
- Taps: $230 each. You can get them A LOT cheaper. I went top of the line Celli's
- Plumbing... $100ish
- CO2 bottle: $200
- Kegs: around $60 each. I've got... umm..7? 8? dunno...
- Filter: $130
My keg setup was expensive. You can do it a LOT cheaper. And kegging is AWESOME. Save so much time. I filter it also to get consistency but many don't.
When I first moved to all grain, i did it all using a cloth bag, a $20 big w pot (20l) and an element from an old kitchen kettle. The various upgrades to the brewery have made it much easier to brew, and allowed me to do bigger batches and stronger beers, but the quality of the beer is only better now because I'm a better brewer, not because i have a better brewery.
If you join a community like AHB too, there are heaps of hand-me-downs on offer. I scored a free fridge for controlling my fermentation which made the single biggest improvement to my beer of everything I've done. There is always people giving away or practically giving away good gear.
The coopers kits you can buy at k-mart that contain everything you need are a good place to start. If you really like beer though, all-grain let's you make stuff better than you can buy. Or at least, better than MOST stuff you can buy. Those crazy Belgians make some amazing stuff that I can still only aspire to...
If you're considering starting, I'm happy to give you a list of things and how/where to get them to get you started