Cost Breakdown of Beer, Home Brewing vs. Commercial - Brewer's Friend
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Cost Breakdown of Beer, Home Brewing vs. Commercial

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

The relative cost of commercial beer to the consumer is 70% marketing, packaging, and taxes! It is all because of the hefty price of marketing and packaging that home brewers have a substantial economic edge over large scale breweries. Comparing the breakdown to what home brewers pay for the relative ingredients tells us home brewers are paying a lot more for hops and malt. That makes sense due to the buying power large breweries have. Even so, home brewers easily beat the price of store bought beer. Quality is also easy to surpass after the fist few batches.

Large Scale Breweries:

Factor in Price Percentage Weight
Packaging 28.00%
Tax 25.00%
Sales and Marketing 17.00%
Production 15.00%
Malt 8.00%
Minor Ingredients 4.00%
Adjuncts 2.00%
Hops 1.00%
Total: 100.00%

Commerical Brewing Price Breakdown

Data Source: Beer: Tap Into the Art and Science of Brewing, by Charles Bamforth, 2nd Edition, Page 191

Home Brewing Relative Costs:

This is a basic 5 gallon batch of beer, OG of 1.05. Let’s assume we need 5.5 lb of DME (or 10-12 lb of grain) 4 oz of loose hops, gypsum/irish moss, fresh liquid yeast, 50 bottle caps and some cleaning solution.

Factor in Price Percentage Weight
Malt (5.5 lb DME, or 12 lb grain) 48.00% $18.00
Hops (4 oz) 21.33% $8.00
Yeast 18.67% $7.00
Packaging (caps/crowns, priming sugar) 6.67% $2.50
Adjuncts (Gypsum, irish moss) 2.67% $1.00
Production (cleaner) 2.67% $1.00
Tax 0.00% NA
Sales and Marketing 0.00% NA
Total: 100.00% $37.50

Commerical Brewing Price Breakdown

Closing Thoughts:

The time factor of home brewing is not considered, since home brewing is a hobby and something to be enjoyed. In other words, this hobby pays for itself. Check out the break even cost article for more details on that:

  1. 7 Responses to “Cost Breakdown of Beer, Home Brewing vs. Commercial”

  2. Water is no where to be found in this analysis, even though beer is roughly 95% water. Odds are in the next 20-30 years, clean water will begin to factor into the price.

    By Larry on Sep 8, 2008

  3. A small quibble: why not change the colours of the pie-charts so that similar components are represented in both charts by similar colours? Why is dark blue packaging in the commercial chart and malt in the domestic chart?

    It’s just a thought, but it would make the visual impression of the two charts less misleading.

    By Ken on Apr 5, 2010

  4. Nice point, this has been corrected.

    By Larry on Apr 15, 2010

  5. Energy should also factor into this cost. I get 4 batches out of a standard propane tank. This fill costs me $20, resulting in $5/batch or 12.5 cents per pint! Not huge, but a factor…

    By Tom on Feb 22, 2012

  6. Quite right, propane is expensive. Electric brewing has been pretty awesome lately for me, but it is more expensive to get the equipment..

    By Larry on Feb 23, 2012

  7. I noticed that there was no break down for the use of propane or other energy costs. Also your water/sewer bill for clean up and recipe useage. You cant forget shipping for those who purchase on-line.

    By John on Jul 14, 2012

  8. You’re all forgetting that homebrew surpasses anything you can buy. That alone makes it better.

    By Dan CAmpbell on Sep 22, 2012

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