About 3 years ago, I made the decision to not drink alcohol during the week (except when on holiday!). The reason for this was twofold:
1. Health – there are a lot of calories in alcohol, particularly beer, which is my favourite tipple at home. As I upped my exercising and started to eat more healthily, cutting down on drinking during the week just formed part of the plan. I don’t miss it, but admit it’s not always easy. However, there’s nothing better than finishing work on a Friday knowing there’s a nice cold beer in the fridge waiting for me!
2. Money – Only drinking on Friday and/or Saturday meant less spent on alcohol in my weekly shop. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not like I drank loads or had weekly binges at home but alcohol isn’t cheap and often made up to a third of my overall shop. These days, what I spend is more acceptable.
But could I spend even less? (Sorry, becoming tee-total is not an option, before anyone suggests this!)
In the past, I’d always had the impression that home brewing was something difficult that involved lots of fiddly equipment and complicated brewing recipes and ingredients, a remote hobby that was enjoyed by middle-aged, bearded men who liked their drink strong and potent – why ‘bearded’? I don’t know – that’s just the impression I had of home brewers!
However, after doing some research, I found that home brewing is a big business, enjoyed by all kinds of people of all ages, male and female (some might even have beards…the men that is!). There also seemed to be a great choice of quality beginners’ kits available.
So, since I already make my own bread (albeit with a bread machine…), I’ve decided that I’m going to try my hand at brewing my own beer!
DIY Beer Kit
There are lots of different types of home brew beer kits but I needed one that included all the necessary equipment in one kit. In the end, I went for the Coopers DIY Beer Kit, which includes the ingredients, fermenting keg with tap and bottles to store the finished beer. All I need to add is water, although there was nothing to sterilise the equipment, so I picked up a few packets of Milton sterilising tablets (good enough for baby, good enough for beer!).
The kit has some good reviews, plus there was an online offer at Tesco and I had a £5 voucher. It will make 40 pints of beer….well, that’s going to last me a wee while, haha!
Yes, all that kit fits into the box – it was very well packed!
The good thing about the Coopers kit is that it seems to be popular so there are lots of videos on YouTube on how to use the kit, including the official one posted by Coopers themselves.
So What Savings?
The kit cost £47 with my voucher (although I also got 68p cashback on it from TopCashback*), steriliser cost £3, so £50 in total.
40 pints works out @ £1.25 per pint or £1.11 per bottle (500ml). Ok, a good saving compared to a pint in the pub, but no great saving compared to the stuff I buy in the supermarket.
The bigger savings are made when you brew your next batch (and subsequent batches), because the equipment I’ve purchased is all reusable (including the bottles) so I’ll just need another beer kit (I don’t have the time/expertise to gather all the separate ingredients…yet!) which cost around £12 for a standard pack or around £25 for a premium kit.
So if I picked up a £12 kit, that works out @ 30p a pint or 26p a bottle!
Of course, any saving is dependent on how drinkable the final brew is…Wonder if my friends would be brave enough to sample?!
Will I end up Drinking More?
No – unlike with food, (snacks in particular) whereby if it’s in the house I’ll eat it, I’m not the same with alcohol. Just because I have a fridge full of beer or several bottles of wine doesn’t mean I drink any more than I usually do.
Plus, this will hopefully turn into a new hobby to enjoy – just from reading the various brewing forums and websites, I’ve already learned lots of new stuff, so this isn’t just an excuse to fill my boots, as it were – it’s educational too as well as a money-saver!
Anyway, I’ve followed the instructions which were pretty straight forward and since Saturday, my brew has been fermenting in the kitchen:
Starting to smell a bit like a brewery!
I was a little afraid that my kitchen might be a bit too cold but I think it’s been ok – I guess I won’t be able to brew in the winter though, unless I had some sort of heating apparatus.
Now I have to wait…
I’ll report back in a few weeks’ time on the outcome – fingers crossed it’s a good brew!