Should You Brew Your Own Beer to Become More Self-Reliant?

Two important things before I start today’s post:

1 – Welcome a new advertiser, Bushcraft Store. They’re straight out of the UK. SHTF Blog is going global to serve SHTF homies across the sea. Check the site out. They have some great in-the-field gear.

2 – A few people have complained about not being able to get comments posted. Apparently the anti-spam feature I’d installed keeps booting people. I have deactivated it, so you should be able to get comments through now. I’ll need to research some alternative, however. This site gets hammered with automated spam if I don’t have something to prevent it. Then we get all kinds of ridiculous, fake “comments” posted. I’ve even had some readers start responding to the spam like it’s a real person. Hopefully there’s some decent, reliable, easy way to filter out some of the spam, otherwise it’ll turn into a comment moderating nightmare.

Okay, now on to the post.

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I like beer. Long-term readers of SHTF Blog may remember my Home Brew Equipment / Self-Reliance post from a few years ago where, after saving advertising revenue for many months, I made an “investment” in home brew equipment. Like many people that want something but can’t justify the expense, I found ways to have the purchase “make sense” and I justified it under preparedness purposes. The reasons:

  • The money was somewhat unexpected, un-budgeted “survival money” that came from a survival site. Survival money from a survival source should go toward survival purposes – no?
  • Brewing beer is more self-reliant. I’d still need to buy ingredients, but I could grow my own hops and eliminate the commercial brewer from the process. I compared it to baking your own bread versus buying a loaf.
  • If I stored enough ingredients, I could brew beer during periods of food shortages that I could then sell, barter or drink myself.
  • I’d save money. Running the numbers, when compared to microbrew beer, after the initial equipment purchase, I’d save about 50% compared to store bought bottled beer.
  • It’d be fun.

I’m not the only preparedness minded person to justify home brewing along these lines, but should YOU do the same? Maybe … or maybe not.

After the equipment purchase and a few rounds of brewing I learned the most important lesson – brewing beer takes time, quite a bit of it. You need to buy the ingredients, sanitize equipment, stay near the brew pot the entire time to add ingredients and prevent boil over, wait for the brew to drop to temperature so you can pitch the yeast, put it in a fermenting bucket, seal it and clean your mess.

Then you need to wait a week or more for the initial fermentation to end, sanitize another bucket or glass carboy, transfer the beer, clean the first bucket and wait another week or more. Then you sanitize a bunch of bottles, add priming sugar, bottle it all, clean up the mess and, depending on the beer you’re brewing, wait 4 or more weeks for the beer to carbonate.

I get tired just thinking about it, all for 5 gallons of half-priced beer, and hopefully you didn’t screw anything up or you’ll be dumping it all out.

The time commitment and hassle just wasn’t worth it, but I quickly realized that with additional equipment, I could brew a 10 gallon batch in the same amount of time it takes to brew 5! So I bought a few 5 gallon cornelius kegs and a CO2 tank, which meant I could also cut out the time consuming bottling process AND I could force carbonate it, eliminating the need to wait for carbonation to happen in the bottles.

That worked for a while …. but ultimately I abandoned the whole thing. The reasons:

  • Home brewing isn’t really a preparedness hobby.
  • It was time consuming even at 10 gallon batches and I already have too many interests with too little time.
  • I wasn’t saving money, because I was just drinking more beer. When you have 10 gallons of freshly kegged beer just sitting in the basement, it’s easy to just go fill your mug again. I was also inviting friends, saying “Hey, the beer is ready, come over!” Beer goes fast that way.
  • All of the equipment takes up space – somewhere in your home. You should also have the right room temp for fermenting buckets, which may not be where you’d like them to be.
  • My wife was laid off and I couldn’t justify spending money on beer ingredients. I began to see the equipment as something that could be converted to cash. I listed everything but the food grade fermenting buckets on Craigslist and sold it to various buyers.

Home brewing is fun – if you have time and interest. Home brewing is a hobby, but it’s not a SHTF Survival hobby.

– Ranger Man

BTW: Check out THIS article – Forecasters are watching the sun closely for fear of a coronal mass ejection, which can have serious implications to the electric grid. Are YOU ready?