10 Strategies to Get Good Beer at Cheap Prices - Pond Hockey Brew

10 Strategies to Get Good Beer at Cheap Prices

When it comes to purchasing good beer, there has never been more quality beverages available.

However, bringing home the best brews can often put a dent in your budget.  At prices of $40 to $70, a case trying to keep your beer fridge stocked can liquidate your extra dinero in hurry.

You could always tap into your 401K…

Or you could use a little creative hustle to make sure you get to drink the best beers without draining your kid’s college funds.

Here are 10 strategies to keep your refrigerator stocked with great beer while keeping your money in your wallet.

10.  Watch for Specials

Distributors, grocery stores, and beer/wine stores run specials on cases that are out of season, or just past their freshness date.  You often have to ask about these specials since the staff will pull the cases off the shelves once they are out of date.  

I am not a big fan of drinking beer that’s past its prime, but good beer that’s just started tapering off is still better than [insert name of garbage domestic brand here].   

Here’s a deal I found at my local distributor, Pletcher’s, last time I stopped in. The salespeople are usually really helpful and will tell you why these products are discounted.

Discount Beer

9.  Host the Party

Hosting an event or party is a great way to get friends to stock your beer fridge.  

When people stay at your house or come over for a party, they usually want to bring something as a “thank you.”  Be upfront and let your friends know your beer preferences.

Here are couple of examples of how to use this strategy.

We live in a college town. Every fall a parade of friends stay with us for football weekends.  [Go State!] The going rate for a warm bed and breakfast has been Beer.  On a busy weekend that’s as much as 4 to 5 cases of top quality beer.

Don’t have an air bnbeer style pad?

Try another angle.  Host an annual informal holiday season beer tasting.  Everyone brings a six-pack, and no one ever leaves with their leftovers.  It’s the party that keeps on giving!

8. Go to the Source

If you go directly to the brewery you can often buy at a discount.  It just makes sense.  If you cut out the middleman, you can save a few bucks.

Many breweries also have mug clubs or other programs that will earn you discounts on on-site pints.  Founder’s Mug Club entitles you to a $1 discount on brews and $2 off growler fills.

Founders Mug Club

North Peak Brewing Company in Travers City, MI, offers $1.50 off pints to mug club members and $5 discounts on growler fills.  That’s a pretty nice savings!

7. Place a Wager

The key to this strategy is to be selective about your competition.  For example, if you wager a case of beer with a friend who loves to drink low budget beer then you can heavily skew the line in your favor.

A few hockey seasons ago I bet my friend Sean that the Rangers would beat the Flyers in the first round of the playoffs.  That bet paid me a 12-Pack of ballast point.  

Craft Beer Wager

Obviously, all wagers are risky.  When the bet is a case of the victor’s choice, unless you are facing off against another quality beer connoisseur, you’ve made a favorable bet.

6.  Join a Brew Club

You don’t have to be an experienced brewer to join a brew club.  It helps if you have an interest in brewing, but you might be able to provide other skills that are assets to the club.  

Most home brew clubs need people that can do accounting, event organization, fundraising, plan logistics, provide legal services or perform other skills outside of brewing that keeps the club running.

Check out the American Homebrewers Association website to find a club in your town.

Contact your local club to see if they are welcoming new members. Once you find a role you can play in the club, your new friends will be more than happy to share their handcrafted libations with you.

In my experience, brew club meetings and events involve lots of beer tasting….otherwise what would be the point?

5.  Know and Love Thy Brewer

Get to know the folks that make your favorites beers and let them know you appreciate it.

My wife is likely the #1 Southern Tier 2XIPA fan on the face of the earth.  We were fortunate enough to meet the Head Brewer of Southern Tier through a friend.  Our friend informed him how much my wife appreciated his work.  

When we met him, he showed up with a case of fresh 2XIPA as a gift.   Free Southern Tier…Thanks Dustin!

Southern Tier 2XIPA

4.  Buy in Bulk

If you are really dedicated to one brew, buying in bulk is the way to go. If you’re a D’fish Head 60 Minute fan and you spend $31 every time you buy a case, you could start bringing home kegs for $155 (before deposit).

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
Kegprices

Cases usually yield 2 ¼ gallons of brew.  A standard ½ keg is 15 gallons.  If you switch to a keg, as opposed to purchasing approximately 6 ½ cases, you save around $50.  

This doesn’t take into account any upfront expense for securing a kegerator, but there are plenty of ways to do this on the cheap (that’s for another post).  Even if you factor in Co2 refills on every couple of kegs, you still save $40.00 or more.

3. Work for It

Whether it’s painting, moving, or dog sitting, doing a favor for a friend is a common summer obligation.  Usually a few hours of buddy labor results in your friend wanting to repay the favor.  When they ask how they can get you back just let them know a case of good beer would be a welcome “thank you” gesture.

Since not all of us speak the same language when it comes to beer, I usually say something like “Don’t worry about it.  I am happy to help you out, but if you want to get me a case of [insert beer or your choice here] that would be great.”  I found that most friends appreciate knowing how they can pay you back.

After all, nothing beats sharing a good brew with a true friend … the kind that will come over and help you strip your deck or move your pool table, just because you need a hand.

2. Work In It

Awesome companies like Dogfish Head are known for providing their employees with a free case every payday!  That’s a freebie worth about an extra $40.00 a week in beer money savings.

New Belgium Brewing Company lists right in it’s benefits that employees can enjoy one free brew after clocking out, and get to bring home an additional 12 pack per week!

Maybe this benefit plan isn’t enough to change your career path.

Small brewers often need some extra hands when it comes time to bottle, and they usually pay in beer.  Check to see if there’s a nano or small batch brewer in your hood.   

They’ll probably be willing to let you clean a kettle or crown some bottles for a healthy beer discount. (If you are in the Pittsburgh area check out Beaver Brewing Co.  The Brewer/Owner, Dan Woodske, is a one man operation. He knows the local brew scene as well as anyone.)

1.  Partner With a Homebrewer

Find a good homebrewer. Considering you are already scouring your local scene for good beer this shouldn’t be too hard.  

To get the most bang for your buck you are seeking an all-grain brewer with what the other brew nerds will be referring to as a “drool system.”  This means they have invested enough time and money in their homebrew set-up that the rest of us beer dorks are in envy of it.

Home Brewi
Photo Courtesy of Northern Brewer

Next, get a sample.  More than likely this individual would love to share some of the libations they have worked hard to craft.  If the brew is good, this is the partner you want.

Now strike a deal.  They can’t legally sell you beer without a license. Your new potential partner loves what they do and is not likely interested in going rogue.   However, they might want to partner with you to keep the supply lines stocked.  There’s nothing wrong with you helping out with the homebrew op by sourcing ingredients and being around to help when your partner cooks up a batch.  

Your brewer friend will know the state regs on how much the two of you can legally homebrew.  In PA it’s less than 200 gallons per year.  That’s approximately 40 cases for your side of the operation if you brew the max!

Here’s an example of how the math works out.

I brewed an outstanding Rye IPA last summer sourcing all my ingredients through standard retail.  Here’s what my cost was rounded up to the nearest dollar

Malt = $35.00, Yeast = $15.00, Hops = 16.00, Shipping= $15.00, Total expenditure =$81.00

Yield= 10 Gallons (after shrinkage and waste) of 8% ABV awesome rye brew.

Homebrewing

Cost per case or 2 ¼ gallons = $18.25.

Here’s a comparable brew you could buy at the distributor:

Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye (average case price before tax)= $43.00.

good beer

Hop Rod is a good brew, but that’s about a $24.75 savings per case I gain by brewing my own!  

Even if I bottled instead of kegging, my expenses on caps and cleaning bottles wouldn’t make much of a dent in my savings.  If you do this right, your average savings should work out to $15 to $20  a case!

That’s our top 10.  What do you do to save money on beer?

Help our beer loving community and leave a comment below with your strategy for getting good beer at cheap prices.

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