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Cost of brewing equipment and ingredients in the UK

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Green Tiger

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This is my first post on this forum, so hello everyone.
I've just moved to the UK from Australia (sorry! We're not all like David Warner over there, I promise) and have brought a fair bit of my brewing equipment over with me. I've had to purchase a few bit a pieces to get me going and I've been staggered at the cost of equipment and ingredients here (excluding grains and hops by and large). I don't want to sound like some smart a3$? Australian but here's a few examples....
Muntons Light Malt Extract 1.8kg - around £11-£12 here, around £6 in Aus.
Kegerator - 3 taps - around £600 local, £300-£350 in Davey Warner Land.
Corny keg used - £70-ish UK, £35-40 Aus

The list could go on and on. What I can't work out is that a local product like Muntons is half the price on the other side of the globe. Equipment like kegerators are all coming from one place - China - and the ex-factory price would be very similar if not the same. I understand there are different customs duties, VAT (in Australia it's 10%), but this nowhere near accounts for such a discrepancy in prices.

To be clear, I'm not trying to dud anyone out of making a quid. If you put up the risk and run a small business, you deserve the rewards. Been there and done it myself. But something seems not right when the market here is 3 times the size and it's hard to reasonably justify such a discrepancy.
 

Leon103

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Because everyone does all grain here and make their own kegerators.
 

HarryFlatters

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As Leon said, grain isn't expensive (IMHO, I've not benchmarked against grain costs elsewhere) and I built a 4 keg Keezer for probably £250 or so.

Kegs are £52 each refurbished from The Homebrew Company in packs of 3, and unless they're ruined, never lose much value so think of them as an investment acheers.

Welcome to the forum :hat:
 

AdeDunn

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You come from the land of BIAB, you should give it a try and marvel at how much cheaper it is to brew with grain than it is with extract. athumb..

As to high prices, usually they end up high as some folks are willing to pay them, so instead of companies thinking to themselves "yeah, but we'll sell more of them if we price them lower!", they think to themselves "Eh, look at these mugs, paying this much, we can rob the muppets!" here in the UK, plus import costs and taxes push prices up here too. Quite often though it pays to shop around and to be thorough about it.
 

Green Tiger

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Thanks for the welcome Harry.
Agree, grain is inexpensive and hops too. Here and back there. About the same.
But, components for building your keezer are twice the price. I'm building one now and I can attest. Yes, you can get kegs cheaper than I posted - as you mentioned - but even so........
 

Green Tiger

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You come from the land of BIAB, you should give it a try and marvel at how much cheaper it is to brew with grain than it is with extract. athumb..

As to high prices, usually they end up high as some folks are willing to pay them, so instead of companies thinking to themselves "yeah, but we'll sell more of them if we price them lower!", they think to themselves "Eh, look at these mugs, paying this much, we can rob the muppets!" here in the UK, plus import costs and taxes push prices up here too. Quite often though it pays to shop around and to be thorough about it.
Hey AdeDunn,
You might be surprised what goes on down there! Yes, BIAB, but a very long established all-grain brewing fraternity. I'm 46 and I've been AG brewing for 25 years and I'm not at all an outlier. Also help out breweries with recipe formulation etc.
So, yes, it is cheaper to brew with all grain but that still doesn't account for the massive differences in hardware pricing.
 

Session

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This is my first post on this forum, so hello everyone.
I've just moved to the UK from Australia (sorry! We're not all like David Warner over there, I promise) and have brought a fair bit of my brewing equipment over with me. I've had to purchase a few bit a pieces to get me going and I've been staggered at the cost of equipment and ingredients here (excluding grains and hops by and large). I don't want to sound like some smart a3$? Australian but here's a few examples....
Muntons Light Malt Extract 1.8kg - around £11-£12 here, around £6 in Aus.
Kegerator - 3 taps - around £600 local, £300-£350 in Davey Warner Land.
Corny keg used - £70-ish UK, £35-40 Aus

The list could go on and on. What I can't work out is that a local product like Muntons is half the price on the other side of the globe. Equipment like kegerators are all coming from one place - China - and the ex-factory price would be very similar if not the same. I understand there are different customs duties, VAT (in Australia it's 10%), but this nowhere near accounts for such a discrepancy in prices.

To be clear, I'm not trying to dud anyone out of making a quid. If you put up the risk and run a small business, you deserve the rewards. Been there and done it myself. But something seems not right when the market here is 3 times the size and it's hard to reasonably justify such a discrepancy.
Welcome! Yes I agree with you GT. I cut my brewing chops in NZ, and was shocked at how much most brewing gear costs over here by comparison...

Except CO2! I don’t know how much it was where you were in Aus, but in Wellington (and most home brew shops online) it was normal to pay around NZ$250 for 2kg of gas. Insane.

The GrainFather was cheap as by comparison too, but I guess you’d expect that for an NZ product.

Looking forward to hearing how you did things in Aus. I’m a big fan of no-chilling thanks to my antipodean friends.
 

Green Tiger

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Hey Session,
Co2 is great here. Check out rentfreegas online, not stupid rental charges and really well priced.
I'm using a Brewzilla I bought over. Gave it a run for the first time on the bank holiday and it worked well, just need to tune in the recipes. I usually brew on a 50 litre 3 tier, gravity fed system that I built years ago and I know that thing like the back of my hand.
Still not a fan of the "no-chill" system tho bro!
 

Session

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Hey Session,
Co2 is great here. Check out rentfreegas online, not stupid rental charges and really well priced.
I'm using a Brewzilla I bought over. Gave it a run for the first time on the bank holiday and it worked well, just need to tune in the recipes. I usually brew on a 50 litre 3 tier, gravity fed system that I built years ago and I know that thing like the back of my hand.
Still not a fan of the "no-chill" system tho bro!
The BrewZilla is awesome! One of my mates had one in Welly and I had a GrainFather. After selling my GrainFather in the move back to the UK I decided to get a BrewZilla instead. I think they’re better value and offer features that, if I still owned my GrainFather, I would want to retrofit (like the camlock connections and false bottom).

Mine arrives later this week - I can’t wait!
 
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Gerryjo

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Hey Session,
Co2 is great here. Check out rentfreegas online, not stupid rental charges and really well priced.
I'm using a Brewzilla I bought over. Gave it a run for the first time on the bank holiday and it worked well, just need to tune in the recipes. I usually brew on a 50 litre 3 tier, gravity fed system that I built years ago and I know that thing like the back of my hand.
Still not a fan of the "no-chill" system tho bro!
Hi and welcome to the forum.
Different strokes for different folks all over the world as prices vary so much. Only brewing AG a few years on a burco boiler and mashtun but awaiting delivery of my BrewZilla on Thursday so looking forward to it.
You'll find the weather is a lot different here as well...
 

foxy

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Taking into consideration house prices are almost half price in the UK to Australia you will have saved a swag of cash there.
 

dwhite60

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Aussie's get some great deals on Coopers kits from what I've read and asked about on the Aussie homebrew forum.

Here in the states a Real Ale kit costs me about 22 USD. That's 33 Australian dollars. They pay about 17 AUD for the same kit which is about 11 USD. I end up paying about 8 USD shipping on that Real Ale kit too as the local homebrew shops don't carry canned kits because they are frowned upon.
 

AdeDunn

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Hey AdeDunn,
You might be surprised what goes on down there! Yes, BIAB, but a very long established all-grain brewing fraternity. I'm 46 and I've been AG brewing for 25 years and I'm not at all an outlier. Also help out breweries with recipe formulation etc.
So, yes, it is cheaper to brew with all grain but that still doesn't account for the massive differences in hardware pricing.
Kinda looks like you only read the first sentence of my reply there bud. lol Never actually said AG was the reason stuff is dearer here, almost everything is more expensive here, for the reasons I gave further down my post, especially anything that comes in from overseas attract import duty in the process.

Oh and watch it if you import directly yourself! Got hit with that once myself when I bought a t-shirt from the US... £7 import duty, £15 handling fees added by the courier for having to deal with import duty..... On a £22 t-shirt......
 

Northern_Brewer

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Muntons Light Malt Extract 1.8kg - around £11-£12 here, around £6 in Aus.
I suspect that one's something specific to Munton's as eg 1.5kg MJ Amber is A$14.95 (~£8.10) at Australian Home Brewing in Melbourne, and it's £8.95 at Brew2Bottle. Near enough the same if you allow for the difference in VAT (also worth noting that brewing is in a bit of a grey area as far as VAT goes, they want to treat homebrew ingredients as a "luxury" food (which attracts 20% VAT) as opposed to "essential" foods which are rated at 0%. Since a lot of homebrew stuff is dual-purpose, it can get treated differently in different tax jurisdictions, here extract is 20% if packaged for retail homebrew, but 0% if packaged for wholesale brewing or for retail baking. So it might be treated differently in Oz.

And/or it could be that Munton's maybe do their own retail packs for the UK market but rely on distributors to make up retail packs overseas from wholesale packs, and Munton's are taking more of a margin, or someone at the Oz end has been cute at locking in the gyrations of sterling in recent years. Or there's some story to do with stockpiling ahead of Brexit which has done all sorts of weird things to trade - perhaps the Aussie importer bought a whole load of extract which is now approaching the best-before date so he's knocking it out at cost?

More generally some of it will reflect relative market sizes for different products, which in turn is not just a function of population but also culture. For instance the UK is a bit weird in how much drinking we do in pubs - not long ago it was over 60% and it's only just dropped below half, whereas AIUI Oz is more like continental Europe at around 30%. And when the kind of people who are traditionally into homebrew go to the pub, they drink cask. And frankly, most traditional British styles just don't really suit force-carbing. So I imagine that until 5-10 years ago the UK was relatively less into kegging than other markets of similar size, just because many (not all) homebrewers have half an eye on the kind of commercial beer that they drink and for many Brits that's not keg beer.

That is changing though, due to interest in heavily-dry-hopped styles and a general Americanisation of our homebrew culture. But traditionally smaller markets mean we don't have that industrial base providing kegging gear etc. But we can do bargain handpulls compared to other countries!
 

foxy

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Oh and watch it if you import directly yourself! Got hit with that once myself when I bought a t-shirt from the US... £7 import duty, £15 handling fees added by the courier for having to deal with import duty..... On a £22 t-shirt......
Best thing to do is get them to write birthday present in goods description, evades all the extra costs involved. (well it does here)
I have found it impossible to do any business in the UK, I don't know why the poms find it so hard to remove the VAT. Its like they don't want any business from overseas, Germany and Italy fall over themselves to remove the sales tax and get the orders.
 

obscure

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Best thing to do is get them to write birthday present in goods description, evades all the extra costs involved. (well it does here)
I have found it impossible to do any business in the UK, I don't know why the poms find it so hard to remove the VAT. Its like they don't want any business from overseas, Germany and Italy fall over themselves to remove the sales tax and get the orders.
in theory yes, but beware that at least in the UK their is the potential for incorrectly declared goods to be ceased. On a low value t-Shirt you may be happy to take that risk, I notice a suprising amount of items bought from eBay have gift or commercial sample stated on the deceleration. I would however be very weary of a supplier who is happy to make false customs declarations and what happens if something goes wrong. As I say on a £3 syphon or something I would just take the hit if it gets lost in transit or otherwise but with something high value not a chance.

 

foxy

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I love risks, life would be so boring without them. I do like to think I have calculated the odds in my favour. I bought my Braumeister from Germany, sales tax taken off, sent through the post 80 Euro. At the time anything over $1000 would attract GST and duty, risk minimal. Thousands of parcels arriving everyday, will customs inspect each one? Doubtful. Delivered in tact thanks to the Leopard Tank like packaging around it and no GST or duty. Saving about $400.
I have imported goods which I admit has had me packing, (the importer is deemed the manufacturer under Australian law) but have never had a lawsuit brought against me.
'Live on the edge and take up less space'
 
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