Homebrewing on the cheap

When we are skint (poor, broke, brassit) many of us will like to have a glass of something to take our mind off it. Just because we have a book out does not make us any different, there are not many authors that do it for the money!

Equipment – What you will need (Basics)

Beer – Fermentation bin, Empty bottles* for lager and barrel for ale/bitter, funnel, airlock, hydrometer and VWP sterilising powder.

* Make sure they are thick bottles and that you can put the lids back on, thin glass could blow up.

Wine – Wine bottles, Demijohn, airlock and bung, funnel, muslin cloth or jelly bag, nylon brush. Siphon tube, corks and hydrometer

Procuring Equipment – Second Hand

Most of my equipment I bought from second hand shops very cheaply. I noticed that one second hand shop kept having stuff in it and so returned to the same shop over a month or two; stocking up quite nicely. You might notice that one person will slowly give away their brewing equipment in the same place. Also check the small ads in the local press, you can do this in the newsagent so no need to even by the paper. Websites like Gumtree also will put you in touch with local people getting rid of their brewing equipment.

Procuring Equipment – Free and improvising

Yes free, check your local freecycle group first and foremost, visit freecycle.org and type in your post/zip code to find yours. You can also ask your friends and family you might be surprised who has a demijohn or a fermentation bin.  Check in Skips too, Dave found his beer barrel in a skip and there was nothing wrong with it.

Fermentation bins and beer barrels

Any fairly large plastic container that has a lid can be used. So use your imagination.  I made a fermentation bin out of a bucket that once had chicken pellets in it, I used VWP powder to heavily sterilise it before use, rinsing then repeating to be certain that nothing would pollute the brew.

I have also seen people using the big plastic containers that you buy from bargain shops for next to nothing. Personally I prefer to reuse things that would otherwise been thrown away but for some I know this is not always an option.

I also got a plastic container with a tap on it from a garage, it once had antifreeze in it so I was slightly worried, but again I just sterilised it to death.  – This holds 60 litres and I use it as a barrel to keep my ale in for a party it even has a handy tap.  I would not recommend doing this with all containers as there are some pretty toxic chemicals out there check the contents before doing this and employ a bit of common sense.


The plastic 5 litre containers that you get when bulk buying things also can be used as improvised demijohns. Simply take the bit of cardboard off the inside of the lid, make a small hole in the top of it and carefully push a plastic airlock into place. Perhaps not great to use again and again but they will do the trick for a wine that brews relatively quickly like coffee or pear wine.

You can also use thick glass bottles that have wide bottle necks; one pint milk bottles are ideal for this. Simply bung in a bung it seems to fit pretty snugly. Not sure what the milkman will say as they are still officially the property of the dairy. Just make sure they go back eventually or perhaps give your milk man a bottle of homebrew wine at Christmas!

A word on ingredients

We have a selection of homebrew recipes to get you started. Many of them use ingredients that you can forage or grow. If you are foraging then please ensure that you know what you are picking, check in a field guide and also on the web.

The wines and beers that we feature will cost you a fraction of what they would if you were to buy them. I would suggest using some of the best ingredients to ensure better results and even then most of the brews will be dirt cheap. Whenever I make my homebrew beer I tend to use an organic local malted barley and the final beer product really does benefit as a result; using a cheap one just leaves a nasty taste in you mouth.

Our home brew section.

We have a selection of drinks that you can try in our home brew section, if you have any questions of problems with making these or any of your brews then visit the home brew section of our web forum and I am sure someone will be happy to help.

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2 Comments on Homebrewing on the cheap

  1. Hi
    All your tags lead to the same thing about your autumn watch thing and dont lead to any recipes as i had hoped. Is that deliberate?

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