Really? Where'd you find them and were the beans dried or canned? My closest natural foods store has the dried ones and they're pretty cheap! Dried are usually the way to go if you're on a budget. Not sure what would be a good sub for them.
I've used brown rice syrup in place of barley malt, but they're close to the same price at my store. Maybe you could get both online cheaper?
I only found the beans at one store so far and they are the dried ones. They were almost 8 dollars for the bag. I will have to keep looking. I looked in 4 different stores. Maybe I can try to find a bulk store. If I can't thou do you know of any other beans I could use in place of them?