How to Home Brew Beer

Clark Hinkle explains how to make DIY home brew beer from the comfort of your own home.

| July/August 1970

  • Home brewed beer
    I tried out my brew on some friends. I didn't get any bad remarks but, then again, I didn't get any good ones either. The beer was dark, heavy and bitter. It had a wallop that was astounding.
    Photo by Fotolia/Vaclav Mach

  • Home brewed beer

NOTE: The Justice Department of the Federal Government long ago announced that it would pursue a hands-off policy on any beer made for home consumption and not for sale. In recent years, however, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division of the Treasury Department has informally attempted to enforce commercial laws on home brewers and, thereby, discourage another time-honored, down home, do-it-yourself activity. 

Lawyers say the Feds argument would never hold up in court. Nevertheless, we do not encourage anyone to brew any beer until he is thoroughly satisfied that such activities are completely within the law and that he has complied with all applicable federal, state and local regulations. 

The first time I encountered home brew, I was eight years old and didn't know what it was. I found a crock of evil-smelling, scummy brown liquid that was bubbling furiously and attracting clouds of flies. The flies, by the way, were regularly drowning in the froth. At the time, it seemed inconceivable that my father and uncle were bottling and drinking this awful looking stuff. In later years, however, I learned that my uncle would guzzle anything from bay rum to vanilla extract.

After a while, I screwed up my courage and asked to try the home brew. My uncle said no. From that point on, the operation was kept a secret since this was during prohibition and the family brewers were afraid I might accidentally rat out to a cop.

Later I found a bar that made a good grade of home brew and, once in a while to celebrate, I put away a few pitchers. I didn't think too much about do-it-yourself beer while in the Air Force (the store-bought variety was both plentiful and cheap) but once I was discharged and had settled down to the sordid business of earning a living, I became disgusted with the high price of beer and began picking the brains of all living relatives in a desperate attempt to find the formula for making my own. Finally, I gathered enough information to start learning how to home brew.

I bought a bottle capper, caps, some thin flexible hose (about the same as on an old fashioned douche bag) and a five-gallon jug. I purchased my malt extract, sugar and yeast and began with a mixture that would make the strongest beer possible. After the proper incantations, I set the jug in the bedroom with the rubber hose running to a pan of water.

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