Hydrous fuel ethanol (95%) and distiller's wet grain (DWG) were produced in a farm-scale plant from corn, wheat, and grain sorghum particles of various sizes, from corn combined with thin stillage-whey, and from various other cereal grains. These variations were made in a search to find the best set of conditions for maximizing the energy balance and minimizing the cost of ethanol production. We found that the optimum hammermill screen size for corn, wheat, and grain sorghum was 1.59 - 2.38 mm. In tests with thin stillage and whey a higher energy balance (2.91) occurred when one part whey was mixed with three parts stillage, rather than the reverse (2.69). However, the reverse (three parts whey and one part stillage) gave a lower ethanol cost ($0.45 liter/sup -1/) than the original ($0.47 liter/sup -1/). Tests with various cereal grains (corn, oats, wheat, barley, rye, and grain sorghum) gave identical energy balance values (2.26) when 10% (v/v) ethanol beers were produced. However, rye ($0.50 liter/sup -1/), grain sorghum ($0.46 liter/sup -1/), and corn ($0.51 liter/sup -1/) yielded ethanol at the lowest net cost. Recommendations for farm-scale plants are also provided.