Making your own beer is fun and cost effective! Use this simple prohibition style recipe to make your own brew.
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Step 1: Ingredients / Equipment
Prohibition Ale Recipe
3 lb can of Hops flavored Malt Syrup
4 lbs Cane Sugar (approx 2 cups to 1 lb)
1 Pkt. Beer Yeast (or 2 ¼ tsp Baker’s)
5 Gallons Water (approx)
1 ¼ cup Cane Sugar (for priming)
4 cups Water ( for priming)
2 Fermentation Buckets w/ lids (5 gallon)
1 Airlock w/ Rubber Stopper
53 12oz Bottles
* (if using bleach be sure to rinse well with water after sterilization)
Step 2: Preparing Your Equipment
You will need to drill a hole in the top of your lid to accommodate your rubber stopper and airlock.
In my case I forgot to borrow my friend's drill bits so I had to make do with my biggest bit then take it the rest of the way with my Leatherman.
Step 3: Wort
Sterilization, Sterilization, Sterilization!
1. Boil Malt Syrup, Sugar, and Water for several minutes in a large pot, until thoroughly dissolved.
2. Pour mixture into your sterilized food grade plastic bucket.
3. Add cold water, almost filling the bucket (leave a couple inches of room at the top) then add Yeast and mix.
Step 4: Lock It Up!
4 .Assemble your airlock (don't overfill the water) and lock the lid tightly onto your bucket.
(You do not want any wild yeast beasties ruining your brew.)
5. Ferment for 7 days.
Step 5: Racking
6. Rack to another sterile 5 gallon container, siphoning off the lees and discard.
7. Cover bucket and secure airlock in lid, again.
8. Let ferment for another 7 days or until the brew is still, with few or no bubbles breaking the surface.
Step 6: Sterilize Your Bottles
The bathtub is a perfect place to wash and sterilize a multitude of bottles.
Step 7: Priming and Bottling
9. Dissolve priming sugar thoroughly with water in a saucepan. Pour into a sterile fermentation bucket.
10. Rack beer into the sterile fermentation bucket, mixing the sugar evenly with the brew*, and siphoning off the lees again.
11.Once racked, siphon the beer into sterile bottles then cap securely.
*It is very important to make sure that the priming sugar is dissolved well in the water and then mixed evenly with the brew. Over-primed bottles are dangerous and can explode, sending shards of glass everywhere with a good deal of force.
Step 8: Carbonation
Flat beer is blasphemy!
13. Carbonation should be complete in about a week, depending on the temperature of where ever you choose to store your beer.
Step 9: The Breakdown
So, in brewing my own beer I was asked whether or not home-brewing was cost effective. I think I answered simply "Yes" at the time. The question has been stuck in the back of my head so I just had to sit down and do the math. Here it goes -
One 6 pack of Average Joe Beer (12oz bottles) 72 oz, Costs approx. $8.00 = $.11 an ounce = $1.33 per 12oz bottle
5 Gallons (approx 53 12oz bottles or 640oz) of Prohibition Ale materials = $9.00 = $.014 an ounce meaning that each twelve ounce bottle costs $.168 cents or about $.17 cents per bottle.
So, 5 gallons of Average Joe Beer costs approx $70.40 vs $9.00 of Prohibition Ale
A six pack (or 72oz) of Prohibition Ale costs $1.008 vs Average Joe Beer's $8.00
The average American in the Pacific Northwest (Washington, Oregon, Idaho average per capita consumption*) drinks between 31 - 35 Gallons of beer per year.
So if you consume, lets say 33 gallons per year (4,224 ounces!), you can expect to spend about $464.64 per year on brew (based on our $8 six pack of Average Joe Beer). Meanwhile, if you make your own (based on the Prohibition recipe material cost of $9) you can expect to spend about $59.14 per year for the same amount.
For the purposes of this comparison I did not include the initial equipment costs of home-brewing. The equipment is very easy to come by, cheap, and reusable. You need to get two fermentation vessels w/ lids ($4, I got food grade plastic pickle buckets at the local burger joint), two air locks ($2), a siphon ($15), and 24 12oz bottles ($15), crown caps ($4 for 150 count), a bottle-capper ($20 for a cheapo). This totals out to about $60 investment in minimal equipment. This expense is easily recouped in you first year of brewing even if you make only a single 5 gallon batch.
In conclusion my friends: Save Money, Make Beer.
*Per capita consumption based on "Beer Institute: Shipment of Malt Beverages and Per Capita Consumption By State 2008 (Preliminary) " Report.