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Whether he's running from the police or giant robots, Shia always seems to have time for romance.

Ahhh, the Prohibition Era. The good old days when, if you wanted booze, you had to make it in your bathtub and risk blindness, rotting intestines, death, and other side effects.

I mean, it’s not like I was alive back then or anything, but I did take AP US History back in high school, so I know a thing or two about the moonshine era. Also, the movie Lawless is set to open this weekend, and I’m pretty sure even I’d make a better 1920’s gangster than Shia LeBeouf. The movie is about the infamous Bondurant brothers, bootleggers from rural Virginia who essentially made a living sneaking around and selling moonshine. That’s all according to Matt Bondurant’s, novel The Wettest Country in the World of course, (the film is based on it) but I’ve got no problems believing in historical fiction. If you ask me, there’s always a little bit of fiction in history anyway.


You probably won’t see too much originality in the plot of Lawless. There will likely be lots of running from the police, subterfuge, violence, and the mandatory tragedy or two. My prediction is that it’ll look similar to Inglorious Basterds minus all of the much beloved gore and intensity that Quentin Tarantino is famous for. Then again, if it’s anything like Boardwalk Empire (similar subject matter, so it probably will be), I could be totally wrong there.

Conflicting plot predictions aside, all this talk of illegal moonshining got us thinking. See, we’re realists here at SALT, and we don’t like to beat around the bush. Since some of us are also still in college, (hi there) we get the insider perspective too.  We know what most of you guys spend your money on while at school, and it likely includes food and booze. So, in the interest of saving you as much money as possible, we’ve already got some posts about making your own food on the blog. But what about making your own alcohol? Is there a way to do it that’s safe, cheap, and legal for all you 21+ students out there?

We think so, which brings us to this week’s burning question: what’s the cost of home-brewing?


Take note readers, because that’s probably the only time you will ever hear me say and/or write a heading like that. But it seems appropriate for our current purpose. So (begrudgingly) I’m going to run some numbers for you.

Let’s say that on an average Friday night out, those of you that are 21+ have about two pints of cheap beer. Assuming you have taste buds, let’s also say that it’s not the cheapest beer that they have in the bar, but maybe just a step or two up. Based on my extensive research, I’m going to estimate and say the price of one such pint is $5.25. That means you spend:

  • $10.50 in one night
  • $21 in one weekend
  • $84 in one month (21 times 4)
  • $1,008 in an entire year (84 times 12).

Let’s see how those numbers stack-up compared to home-brewing costs.


In order to make beer at home, you’re gonna need the right equipment and ingredients. Luckily for us, some enterprising company that goes by the profound name of “Mr.Beer” had the idea to create a single package that includes everything that you need. Let’s assume that you buy the cheapest one for $39.95 (not including shipping). That kit makes you two gallons of beer, and assuming you have access to some kind of fridge, you’ll be able to store the excess.

There are 16 pints in 2 gallons (assuming a “pint” is 16 fluid ounces). Does that number of pints look familiar? It should, because that’s the amount of beers we’re saying you drink in a month.

At the bar it’ll cost you $84, but if you make your own, you’ll only be paying about $40+shipping. That’s more than 50% savings!

Granted, home-brewing takes a bit more effort than just ordering a drink does. But if you’ve got the time to put into it, it’s definitely a money saver!

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  1. Aaron Weber August 31, 2012 / 2:15 pm

    Still not as cheap as just buying it at the store. The big brewers have some serious economy of scale going. Still, it’s fun.

    The real financial danger, I think, is that of any hobby: Once you get good at it, you start to want bigger and more expensive equipment.

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