Two years ago for Christmas my brother-in-law bought me a great gift: a homebrew beer brewing kit (he bought me a kit without the extra carboy, but I wasn’t able to find that). Since that time, it’s been a nice hobby, though I don’t know that I’d recommend it as a way of saving money on beer. You can’t beat the prices of cheap mass-market beer by brewing at home – though when you compare to craft brews it comes out in your favor, which is a more apt comparison for these more complex beers. At least until you start buying more equipment like a kegerator, cornelius kegs, wort chillers, more fermenters, bottles, or even a mash setup.
I’ve been sharing bottles of my homebrew with family members as I’ve brewed various recipes: Oktoberfest, Pumpkin Stout, American Ale, Wit, Hefeweizen. They’ve turned out pretty well and had spurred the interest of a cousin who has since brewed a couple batches. So it wasn’t unusual when he asked me two weeks ago whether I had brewed any new batches. I told him I’d been too busy with various projects.
We were comparing our projects and sharing stories (over some beers) when he started talking about his looking forward to getting some time to split some wood – he loves any chance to go out and use his chainsaw and log splitter. He lamented running out of his own Brown Ale batch. My wife had just asked me the day before about ordering some wood for our fireplace at home. We don’t use it for heat, more for ambience so we don’t need too much and were trying to figure out how we could get a smaller amount since they typically won’t deliver so little. So we brokered an old school barter: I’d brew him a nice 5 gallon batch of beer if he’d split up a face cord of wood. I love to brew and he loves to split, so it was an easy deal to make.
On the drive home, I saw some people were trying to sell face cords for $60 and $65. The beer type he wanted runs $35, a nice Red Ale kit. So we’ll both make out nicely here: I’ll get a cheap face cord of wood for the equivalent of $35 and he’ll get 5 gallons of good beer for his sweat equity. I’m looking forward to brewing!