Do It! Brew It Yourself!

If you really enjoy drinking beer and are somewhat ambitious, brew it yourself. Once you get the hang of it you'll save a lot of money.


| March/April 1979



056 brew it yourself.jpg

You may not achieve beer like this on the first try, but brew it yourself a few times and you will.


PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

They say that hard work never hurt anybody, but you can bet that unnecessary labor bothers a lot of folks ... including me. In fact, it was my personal "energy conservation program" that caused me to discover the painless beer-brewing method.

To tell the truth, though, my "new" procedure is as old as prohibition, when "brew it yourself" beer was a popular do-it-yourself pastime. And, while this easy-to-make beer might not earn accolades from a connoisseur, I like it very much. As do my friends.

The Ingredients

Beermakin' can—like most anything else—be complicated if you want it to be. But the bare-bones brewing procedure is really quite simple. All you have to do is mix one package of baker's yeast, one can (or less) of hop-flavored malt extract, and a few pounds of sugar into five gallons of water. Then, just put the liquid in a large jug that's equipped with an air lock, wait about a week, bottle it, wait another week (actually six weeks to three months would be better, but who's that patient?), and enjoy!

Many beer recipes recommend brewer's yeast or vintner's yeast and argue that baker's yeast imparts its own flavor to the beverage. However, I don't find the flavor of baker's yeast disagreeable, and—having used the other types—I still see no good reason to pay any more for my yeast than I have to. Besides, baker's yeast is available at most grocery stores, and a three-pack of one of the common brands (which sells for around 33¢) will produce 15 gallons of beer! (You can, of course, use whatever yeast you want. Just don't be misled by "experts" who say that baker's yeast will produce a poor beer, 'cause it just ain't so!)

Another "main ingredient" in home brew is malt extract, a very heavy, dark liquid that costs under $3.00 for a 2 1/2- to 3-pound can. A number of firms produce the syrup, but Blue Ribbon seems to be the most commonly used brand. This company makes five different types of malt extract, though, so be sure to get one that's hop flavored (the others will produce a far less tasty beer).

You'll also need between two and five pounds of white sugar. The amount will determine the potency of your brew.

hosea mcadoo
10/1/2009 4:08:20 PM

I totally agree with the previous post by Nathan. The original post date of the article is March/April 1979 which , in part, explains the errors, however my first beer was made this way in 1967 and was predictably awful. This recipe will make a lot of alcohol but an awful taste. This was the prohibition may of making a high alcohol drink for the winos. I would advise the many web sites that give very good instructions and recipes for real and great home made ales and lagers. Just Google, home brew, home made beer etc. and you will find these but also suppliers for excellent kits for ales and lagers for any type you like. Some of the grossest errors from the old article are as in the precious article as well as the cleanliness factor was not emphasized nearly enough. It has to be close to OR standards. Plain sugar will make a beer that has very winey off flavors and brewers yeast is bred to raise bread and give bread flavors. Good brewers yeast is not very expensive and , if careful, can be reused. The Blue Ribbon Malt syrup is good and can make good beer but there are many other choices at about the same price. Blue Ribbon used to be available in grocery stores making it the original choice for illegal home brew. Home brewing is legal for up to two hundred gallons per year but there are no requirements for keeping track of the amount and I am unaware of any investigations. It is imperative that you do not sell your brew without license. Home brewing can be a very rewarding hobby and can be done as simply or as complicated as you want and make great beer, but not the way described in the article.


hosea mcadoo
10/1/2009 3:25:56 PM

I totally agree with the previous post by Nathan. The original post date of the article is March/April 1979 which , in part, explains the errors, however my first beer was made this way in 1967 and was predictably awful. This recipe will make a lot of alcohol but an awful taste. This was the prohibition may of making a high alcohol drink for the winos. I would advise the many web sites that give very good instructions and recipes for real and great home made ales and lagers. Just Google, home brew, home made beer etc. and you will find these but also suppliers for excellent kits for ales and lagers for any type you like. Some of the grossest errors from the old article are as in the precious article as well as the cleanliness factor was not emphasized nearly enough. It has to be close to OR standards. Plain sugar will make a beer that has very winey off flavors and brewers yeast is bred to raise bread and give bread flavors. Good brewers yeast is not very expensive and , if careful, can be reused. The Blue Ribbon Malt syrup is good and can make good beer but there are many other choices at about the same price. Blue Ribbon used to be available in grocery stores making it the original choice for illegal home brew. Home brewing is legal for up to two hundred gallons per year but there are no requirements for keeping track of the amount and I am unaware of any investigations. It is imperative that you do not sell your brew without license. Home brewing can be a very rewarding hobby and can be done as simply or as complicated as you want and make great beer, but not the way described in the article.


nathan schneider
9/30/2009 4:03:50 PM

I don't know how old this article is but pretty much everything written here is WRONG. Bakers yeast? Beer tastes better out of a glass because it is aerated? What? You WILL end up with beer but it WILL taste terrible...unless you have no idea what good beer is supposed to taste like. I would recommend buying "How to Brew" by John Palmer and following his directions. You will be MUCH happier with your results.






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