The Economics of Home Brewing (i.e. $4.86)

One of the main reasons I started making my own beer was for financial reasons. Skeptically and cautiously, I asked: Is it possible to afford drinking beer that tastes like Two Hearted Ale (check out my video on how to make it)? Well, after making my 25th batch of beer, I was very happy to find out that my price per six pack has come down to exactly $4.86 per six pack. So yes, it’s affordable. That’s cheaper than Bud Light. And yes, I’ve taken very good notes on what I’ve spent–I have all my receipts. I’ve done this financial breakdown at several times ($8.52, $6.96, $6.30, etc). I must say I didn’t expect it to get this low this fast. Think about it. A six pack of Two Hearted Ale costs at least $9.99. I just cracked open a Two Hearted Clone that tasted just as good for $4. And yes almost all of my beers are 7% ABV or above and hoppy, which happen to be expensive beers to make relatively speaking. Also I rarely buy beer at the store anymore. I must note that, although almost all of my batches tasted good, one was so bad that I didn’t finish drinking it. I tried to mix it with Miller High Life and limes and still couldn’t drink it!

Why would the cost come down? Well, I’m calculating every single cent I have every spent on equipment, ingredients, my KLOB membership (costs $15/year but gets me 10% off ingredients), the Scotch that I put in one of my beers–everything, not just ingredients. Basically what’s happening is that the initial and occasional investment on equipment has gradually proven its value and now I’m mostly paying for just the ingredients to make the beer. How much are those? A 5 gallon of, say, Two Hearted will cost around 30 dollars to make, getting you around 45-50 beers. That’s about 4 dollars per six pack. Most recipes will be cheaper than that. I made a nice brown ale for $17 and got 43 beers, which is only $2.40/six pack. So my cost should go down a little more but probably not below $4. All grain brewing, which I purposely don’t do (I do “partial mash”), could potentially save more money, but comes with a huge initial investment on equipment–so the savings wouldn’t show up for a while, at least a year I would say.
There’s a shit load of things that I did to save money. I only bought what I needed. I reused yeast (that’s a big one). I used sugar. I took good notes. I borrowed stuff from friends. People gave me stuff.
Yeah, but don’t you drink more? Ummm….I don’t think so, although this is a very good worry to have and I’ve noticed that home brewers never talk about it. My wife says I don’t, so I trust her more than I trust myself to answer that. I agree with her. I blame it on becoming an adult. I certainly drink more frequently, but only one or two beers at a time, probably averaging about 22 oz. of beer per day. I believe that’s called moderation. Of course sometimes I do have to test out the alcohol content of my beer (too cheap to buy a hydrometer which measures that), and so I will go ahead and get drunk just as a test. Just as a test , not because I want to get drunk off the delicious beer I’ve made. Course not.
The Economics of Home Brewing (i.e. $4.86)

A Letter to my Unborn Son

A letter to my unborn son

Dear Immanuel,
Years ago I realized that my love was too big. I wanted a son or daughter to complete it, fill it, express  and expand it. Your mother and I planned on having you. In this way, you are a work of art. In our hearts, treasures and rooms are filled with love for you. You simply enter. We have set the stage.
I hope you become better than me, and my father and mother, and his father and his mother. I hope you become astounded at your potential, at your potential greatness and genius. I hope it haunts you as it haunts me, and as it haunted Emerson, as it haunted Gandhi and forced him to wake up at 4 in the morning and pray and work for peace and justice, as it propelled Jesus to take a spear as the words “forgive them” was on his lips. I hope you become a better man than me. I hope you have none of my faults, all of my virtues, and much more.
And yet I expect nothing of you at all besides this: be your own man; think for yourself; know yourself and do your duty, whatever that may be. You are your own man. I will be your father and your friend along the way. We are different people.
At your birth, if I cry, I will cry at the fact that you could one day become a great or terrible person; a Martin Luther King Jr., a Henry David Thoreau, a Mother Theresa, a Jesus, a Kant, Newton. I will cry at the fact that, whoever you become, my love will never waiver, never falter, and never disappear. I will cry at the beauty and terror of fate. Why are you here, and yet another baby is born in Togo, Benin, Central African Republic? Why are you born healthy and another addicted to drugs, adopted, aborted, poor and starving?
And as you live in an abundance of love and affection, I hope you learn one day why the good Lord spends his time loving other children, the lost and forgotten children. Perhaps you shall feel that love someday. Perhaps someday you shall look up at the universe with a smile and a nod. Or perhaps you will become an atheist, agnostic, communist, humanist, environmentalist, nihilist, anarchist. The world is big and everything is possible.
You are named after two people. One sacrificed his life for love, and the other constructed a philosophical structure that promoted love and dignity as the foundation of  a moral, rational life.
I hope you read. Perhaps above all things, I hope you read. When all the boys are too cool to dance, I hope you dance. I hope you find the world foolish, silly, and yet serious. I hope you are humble, modest, wise and strong. I hope you love your body,  brain, mind, and soul. I hope you love them all the same. I hope you help others. I hope you respect others, especially those who are different from you. I hope you become friends with Hindus and African Americans and Latinos.  I hope you become an astrophysicists, a teacher, a chaplain, an artist, a writer, a reformer. I hope you become a reformer.
I will teach you how to read. I will help you walk, and ride a bike, and throw a football. I will bring you to your first day of school and your first day of college. I will gladly meet your first girlfriend or boyfriend. One day we will go into the garage and hit the punching bag. We will have the time of our lives!  You will constantly say “dad, you are crazy.” And your mother will agree. You will laugh at me and also take me seriously, sometimes. At one time in your life you might reject me. You might think I’m full of shit and tell me to fuck off. That’s okay; it will pass. One day we will go to camp and walk through the woods.  Your mother will teach you the birds and plants. One day we will bury our cat Phoenix. If you cry, I will feel joy at your empathy. I will say “that is good that you cry, Immanuel. You are a good person.”  Simply imagining that you are a good person almost makes me cry right now. Is that not the point of life? I will teach you how to face confrontations head on, to never gossip or lie, to never be violent and to never be a coward, to be peaceful and brave. I will tell you stories about how your uncle and I learned how to talk, to have conversations, to be honest, to explore our thoughts and share the world. In the end, you will teach me more than I can ever teach you. Odds are you will be much smarter and more experienced than your father.
I have known you for about a year now. My love will grow over the years. Like God, love is infinite and never stops. It knows no bounds, has no conditions, has no fears, is indestructible. If you learn anything in life, I hope you learn that love mixed with truth and honesty is the most beautiful thing in the world. If God is anything, He is truth and love. And if life means anything, it means living in truth and love.

With love,

Your dad Matt
A Letter to my Unborn Son

Intensity, Righteous Anger, Suffering with Gandhi, and Habit: or, My Secret to Exercising


In high school I would lift everyday and see no gains whatsoever. I was just going through the motions. Most people work out this way. In college I started lifting with extreme intensity–every single lift, red faced, sweating, straining. I gained about 25 pounds of muscle and never lost it. You need to get angry, pissed off, amped up. Whether you are trying to gain muscle or lose weight, this is most important. This is hard work. It’s not for pussies. It’s not social hour. You are going into battle; you are literally tearing your muscle fibers in order to build them back up. People forget that. Listen to 50 Cent on the way if you have to. Pretend you are an athlete in training. Enjoy the suffering. Get angry at all the things you could have done today, this week, this year, this life. Why aren’t you living up to your potential? The world gives us plenty to get angry at: poverty, world hunger, texting while driving, politics, apathy, cheating, lying. That’s the righteous anger that propelled Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. I’m not the guy who grunts and throws weights around, although in my head that’s exactly what I’m doing. I feel alive in the suffering. I am Jesus and Gandhi. It’s like running a 5K: a slow death that ends with the most exhilarating feeling of accomplishment I’ve ever had.

This is going to be hard at first. When it comes to practicing virtue as opposed to vice, everything worth doing is hard at first. It will take a few weeks (not days) for the body to get used to the soreness and for the mind to get used to the intensity. Will power leads to habit. As David Hume habitually repeated, we are “creatures of habit”; and that’s a beautiful gift from God (Hume wouldn’t agree with that last part). Now when I go to the gym I automatically exercise with the same intensity as I did in college. It’s a beautiful thing. My brain is dialed in. I cannot have an easy lift or an easy run. If I do not exercise for a week, I get withdrawals. I look forward to it and love it. I am in the best shape and health of my life.

Perfect Form

Without perfect form (i.e., watch your spine) you will get hurt; especially when you are lifting with intensity. In college I hurt my back a few times because I lost form, which still affects me today. For each lift, learn what the correct form is and stick to it. Only do as much weight as you can do with perfect form. Simple as that. And do a warm-up; stretch or take a short run.

There are no secret programs, secret exercises, or secret supplements (except protein…if you want to gain muscle, your body will need more of it). But to me, focused intensity is the only secret.

Intensity, Righteous Anger, Suffering with Gandhi, and Habit: or, My Secret to Exercising