Save Money, Make Beer (Prohibition Style)




About: I am a stay at home mother who loves making cool things to entertain my family and improve our lives. What more is there to say?

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
Crown Caps
Bottle Capper
Sterilizing Solution
* (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.

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    23 Discussions


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Alcohol is a natural by product of yeast metabolism. There's no way to avoid it. You could "boil" it off. Alcohol evaporates at 170F, so you could raise the temperature of the finished beer in the oven to say 190F for a couple of hours and get rid of the EtOH that way. Might make the beer taste off though. You would also kill off any remaining yeast and not be able to naturally carbonate the resulting alcohol "free" beer.


    Reply 8 months ago

    once the temperature reaches 100*F the yeast will start to die, back when i made shine would keep the mash at 90*F so as not to over heat and kill the yeast but also not to let it drop too low and stall it either


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    or you can simply reduce the amount of sugar, since alcohol is produced from it


    6 years ago on Introduction

    If I wanted to make a fruit beer, at what point would I add fruit? Im assuming during the fermenting process? I'm just concerned as fruits have a natural sugar of course and could mess with the process.

    2 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I don't know quite a lot on beer brewing, but I have a little knowledge with brewing fruity alcohol (fruity meads). If you want it just for flavour you should be able to add the fruit juice at a point near the end of the brew, you will have a stronger fruit flavour to it, but I'm not sure how that'd go in a beer. From memory Beer, Mead and Wine yeasts are quite similar, and many of them are compatible with all 3. Personally I would add it just before the yeast, nd cut the sugar slightly, not by a great deal though, depends on the fruit, maybe look up the average Sugar content for raspberries, or apples. It will essentially work into the flavour, you'd have to experiment a bit, or look into how much other people add when they make fruity beers. Good luck


    Reply 8 months ago

    from my experience you can use fruit in the mash so that it'll have a fruity base flavor or you can pour the brew over the fruit and store it in a jar/bucket depending on how much you make and let it age for a while to get the fruity flavor


    8 months ago

    i used to make 400gal of moonshine every 4 days and then let it set in a barrel for a few months to get the proper brown liquor coloring


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Nice job! I've brewed many batches of ale, but this is a cheap way to try it out. I'd recommend using all brown bottles, unless you store your beer in complete darkness (bat cave?), in order to avoid skunky-tasting beer. The brown glass filters out the light which will let microorganisms multiply and spoil a batch of beer.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I brew my own beer too but I always use 1 liter soda pop bottles to put my beer in. Instead of washing, rinsing, sanitizing, filling and capping 66 bottles, I only have to do 22. Also, the caps are reuseable and I don't need to buy caps and use a capping tool, I just twist them on. The bottles of beer are resealable, so I can pour a glass and put the rest back in the fridge. It saves time too, when I used 341mL glass bottles and metal caps, the whole bottling process took more than 2 hours, now it's about 20 minutes. This can make home brewing more cost effective even when you factor in the time and effort you spend to make it.

    1 reply

    8 years ago on Step 9

    OK, not so bad for "prohibition" style. I have a couple of suggestions. Try to avoid cane sugar, go with dextrose instead. Cane sugar can give some seriously horrid off flavours - think bandaids.

    A five gallon bucket will not hold five gallons of fermenting beer. There's not enough head space for the initial fermentation. You can still use the 5 gallon pail if you use a blow off tube instead of a fermentation lock. Take some clear vinyl tube and run it into a large jar, keeping the end under water. When the beer foams, the foam will go out the tube into the jar.

    You can sanitize your bottles in the dishwasher. Put the wet, clean bottles in the upper rack, and use the heat/dry setting.

    Notwithstanding what I've said, if you've been able to brew like this without incident, great. However you brew, keep the same process between batches. You'll increase your odds of a good result.

    4 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    4# Dextrose $6
    3.3lb can of hopped extract $17
    Dry beer yeast $2
    Bottle caps $2

    total ~ $27 for about 5 gallons, which should yield 52 - 12 oz bottles

    $27/52 = $0.52 per bottle of beer, not counting your labor. So ~$3 per six pack.

    Of course, this is a tad more deluxe than the original poster's recipe, but I won't use bread yeast to brew with. I don't know where he scored the $9 can of extract from.

    I do tend to figure my time in, so I don't home-brew even though I've helped make a batch or two in my youth.  Yungling is like $17 a case around here.

    I do see a slightly larger savings spread if you do all grain brewing (upps the complexity quite a bit, but people swear the taste makes it worth it.) Also, I'd be a tad worried that I'd drink all my savings, or start buying kegs, taps, growlers, etc..). Here, 12 pounds of grain at $1-2 per pound (hint: buy in bulk) replace the extract and most of the sugar. You probably want to buy some hops to add in also.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I've been brewing at home for several years. I bought a "starter kit" that included all the basic equipment. I purchase ingredient kits that contain everything but the water. You are right in your cost assessment. It is not cheaper to brew your own when you factor your time and energy into the mix. Having said that, there is some satisfaction that you get from producing a product that is as good or better than the really good micro-brews that are commercially available, and you can't put a price on that. Plus, when you get a little experience you can start tweaking the recipes and your options are unlimited. One way to save some of the cost and not sacrifice the quality is to keg your beer instead of bottling it. Bottling is very labor intensive and time consuming. So, if you like being creative and enjoy the "I made this myself" feeling, then by all means try a little homebrewing!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I recently went all grain for brewing. After initial setup costs. (a couple hundred USD) Ingredients ran me $17 for the grains and about $1.50 for the yeast.
    Made 5 gallons of a good red ale and used the spend grains for baking.
    I agree, it takes a considerable effort and will not pay for itself until many many batches are made (and drunk). The reason I love to home brew is that "I made this" satisfaction. I can make what I like to drink and it's a good excuse to have the guys over and drink some brew while we make more.
    This basic recipe may spark an interest in home brewing and makes the process look doable with a minimum mount of effort.
    For someone like me, it seems like an easy way to get into the hobby, and I comment the author on that.
    Home brewing can be as simple or as complicated as you want. I learned on extract kits, then "graduated" to partial grain kits and now I'm doing all grain recipes from books and other information sources. It's a great hobby and I encourage everyone to give it a shot.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Lately I've been hooked on dry hard cider, and I've always been a fan of the dark brews, so if I can make a decant stout for the price $0.52 per bottle, well that tips the scales a bit. I think I'm paying over a buck a bottle for the stout. The cider is even higher. Too bad it takes so long to age that stuff.