Have you ever been sipping a cold one and wondered to yourself, “Self, what would happen if there suddenly was no more beer manufacturers? Can I make this myself?”
As a prepper and a do-it-yourself-er, you most likely have, and the answer is yes, but we’re going to have to qualify it. Yes, you can make your own beer at home as long as you’ve stockpiled the equipment and the ingredients.
Making beer isn’t like making wine; you can’t just toss some grape juice, yeast and sugar in a bottle and wait it out. You really do need 3 specialized ingredients (hops, beer yeast, and fermented sugar) a couple of common ingredients and some fairly specialized yet simple equipment.
You can also opt to start with a beer kit, which will provide you with everything that you need to get started, but will only have enough supplies for your first batch or two. After that, you’ll need to order ingredients but you’ll have your equipment.
Since bottles may be rare in a post-SHTF world, we’re going to tell you how to store your beer in casks instead of bottling it after we go through the process of making it, too. You know, just in case you want to open the first saloon when society starts to restructure, or if you just want really good beer.
For simplicity, because you probably won’t be growing your own wheat and making your own malt, we’re going to use an extract. You can, of course, make it straight from wheat but that would require, well, wheat.
How To Make Beer At Home
- 2 food-grade 5-gallon buckets with lids, or 1 bucket and 1 “carboy”, a 5-gallon glass bottle
- Large pot or kettle that will hold at least 3 gallons of liquid with extra room to spare
- 6 feet of plastic, food-grade tubing
- 1 airlock, aka fermentation lock, to keep bacteria out of your beer while letting Co2 out.
- 1 long spoon – you’ll use this for stirring so make sure it’s long enough to stir your pot.
- At least 55 bottles
- At least 55 bottle caps (not twist-offs)
- 2 bottle cappers
- Bottling wand
- 1 large funnel
- Food thermometer
- A cool place to ferment – cooler, fridge, cold basement, cellar
These are the ingredients you’ll need to make basic ale. 5 gallons of filtered, purified water
- 6 pounds of DME (dry malt extract)
- 1 oz. hop pellets, your choice (this will play a huge part in the taste of the beer)
- 14g (2 7oz packs) ale yeast
- 1 C warm water to activate the yeast in
- 3/4 C liquid corn syrup
Before you start the process of actually making beer at home, you need to carefully sanitize all of your equipment. Any bacteria will cause spoilage of your beer, or at the very least will affect the flavor.
As a good prepper, you should have plenty of bleach stored back so make yourself a bleach solution with 1T of bleach per gallon of water to sanitize stuff so that you kill all the nasties.
Video first seen on Jonny Keeley.
Brew It Up
Now to the good part – making your beer at home!
- Gather all of your ingredients and equipment.
- Place your hops pellets in cheesecloth or some type of clean cloth so that it just steeps in the beer.
- Pour 1.5 gallons of water into your kettle and bring it to a boil.
- Remove from heat and add the malt, stirring so that it’s all dissolved. If it sinks to the bottom, it’ll burn, and burned malt tastes like crap.
- Bring it back to a boil for about 50 minutes. It’s going to bubble so be sure to watch it carefully. If you need to beat back the foam to keep it from overflowing, spray it with a bit of water in a spray bottle.
- Add your hops. Now the mix will get REALLY foamy so watch it carefully and spray if necessary; you can’t walk away at this point.
- Boil for another 10-20 minutes, depending upon how “hoppy” you want your beer.
- While your wort (that’s what the mix is called) is boiling, dissolve your yeast in the water. If it doesn’t activate (get bubbly), your yeast is no good. Try again with fresh yeast or your beer won’t ferment correctly.
- Next, you can either remove from heat and let it cool naturally or place the pot in an ice bath to cool it quickly. If you use an ice bath, it will take about 20 minutes to cool. Stir it a bit so that it cools faster.
- Pour the remaining 3.5 gallons of water into your fermenting bucket or carboy and use the funnel to add the wort.
- Sprinkle in the yeast and then stir it or add the lid and shake it so that the yeast dissolves.
- Add the airlock and store in a cool place (60-75 degrees F) such as a dark room or your basement or cellar, where no light will get to it. Some foam will likely escape through the airlock so make sure that it’s not going to ruin anything that the carboy or bucket is sitting on.
- The fermentation process should take about 2 weeks. If the temperature of the room raises and the airlock stops bubbling, you need to move it to a cooler place right then.
- If all is well, the airlock will have a slow trickle of bubbles that will increase for a few days, then decrease over the next few days.
- It’s possible that the fermentation process will pop your airlock out. If that happens, just sanitize it and put it back in.
Bottling or Casking
Now it’s time to store your beer. Regardless of whether you’re using bottles or a cask/keg, sanitize them well and let them air dry. Your bottles caps will come with sanitizing instructions.
- In a sanitized pot, bring the corn syrup and 1 cup of water to a boil and boil it for 10 minutes. Don’t use too much syrup because the beer will over-carbonate and cause the bottles to explode.
- Cool for 10 minutes and pour the sugar mixture into your bottling bucket. (or your cask if you’re casking)
- Set your full fermentation bucket on the counter and place the bottling bucket in the floor beneath it.
- Using your sanitized siphoning hose, begin to siphon the beer from the fermentation bucket into the bottling bucket (or cask). Control how fast it flows by pinching the siphon. You don’t want it to splash but rather to flow gently in.
- After all the beer has siphoned into the bottling bucket, cover and allow it to set for 30 minutes so that the sediment sinks.
- Now move the bottling bucket gently to the counter and siphon the beer into your bottles, leaving 3/4-inch headspace.
- Cap each bottle securely.
- Let the bottles age for at least 2 weeks, but up to 2 months, then enjoy!
- If you’ve placed your beer in a cask, store it somewhere cool, 55-65 degrees, with the airlock still in place.
- Sample after a few days and drink it when it’s ready, or bottle it if you were casking for flavor. If you do use a cask, make sure that your siphon hose is a couple of inches or so off the bottom so that you’re not siphoning the dead yeast and sediment off the bottom.
Casked beers go bad more quickly than bottled beers, so keep that in mind. There’s a whole art to choosing your casks, too, but that’s an article for another day!
After you get the hang of this basic recipe for making beer at home, you can experiment with different hops and yeasts to alter the flavors. You can even add fruits or spices to make your very own craft beers. Once you get the basics and understand the science, the world is your brew-toy. Enjoy!
This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.
Want to be as self-sufficient as possible? Want to master all the lost skills our grandfathers had? Then you really need this amazing step-by-step guide. It is called The Lost Ways and it contains all the knowledge of our forefathers.
Here’s just a glimpse of what you’ll find in The Lost Ways:
From Ruff Simons, an old west history expert and former deputy, you’ll learn the techniques and methods used by the wise sheriffs from the frontiers to defend an entire village despite being outnumbered and outgunned by gangs of robbers and bandits, and how you can use their wisdom to defend your home against looters when you’ll be surrounded.
Native American ERIK BAINBRIDGE – who took part in the reconstruction of the native village of Kule Loklo in California, will show you how Native Americans build the subterranean roundhouse, an underground house that today will serve you as a storm shelter, a perfectly camouflaged hideout, or a bunker. It can easily shelter three to four families, so how will you feel if, when all hell breaks loose, you’ll be able to call all your loved ones and offer them guidance and shelter? Besides that, the subterranean roundhouse makes an awesome root cellar where you can keep all your food and water reserves year-round.
From Shannon Azares you’ll learn how sailors from the XVII century preserved water in their ships for months on end, even years and how you can use this method to preserve clean water for your family cost-free.
Mike Searson – who is a Firearm and Old West history expert – will show you what to do when there is no more ammo to be had, how people who wandered the West managed to hunt eight deer with six bullets, and why their supply of ammo never ran out. Remember the panic buying in the first half of 2013? That was nothing compared to what’s going to precede the collapse.
From Susan Morrow, an ex-science teacher and chemist, you’ll master “The Art of Poultice.” She says, “If you really explore the ingredients from which our forefathers made poultices, you’ll be totally surprised by the similarities with modern medicines.” Well…how would you feel in a crisis to be the only one from the group knowledgeable about this lost skill? When there are no more antibiotics, people will turn to you to save their ill children’s lives.
And believe it or not, this is not all…
Table Of Contents:
Making Your Own Beverages: Beer to Stronger Stuff
Ginger Beer: Making Soda the Old Fashioned Way
How North American Indians and Early Pioneers Made Pemmican
Spycraft: Military Correspondence During The 1700’s to 1900’s
Wild West Guns for SHTF and a Guide to Rolling Your Own Ammo
How Our Forefathers Built Their Sawmills, Grain Mills,and Stamping Mills
How Our Ancestors Made Herbal Poultice to Heal Their Wounds
What Our Ancestors Were Foraging For? or How to Wildcraft Your Table
How Our Ancestors Navigated Without Using a GPS System
How Our Forefathers Made Knives
How Our Forefathers Made Snow shoes for Survival
How North California Native Americans Built Their Semi-subterranean Roundhouses
Our Ancestors’Guide to Root Cellars
Good Old Fashioned Cooking on an Open Flame
Learning from Our Ancestors How to Preserve Water
Learning from Our Ancestors How to Take Care of Our Hygiene When There Isn’t Anything to Buy
How and Why I Prefer to Make Soap with Modern Ingredients
Temporarily Installing a Wood-Burning Stove during Emergencies
Making Traditional and Survival Bark Bread…….
Trapping in Winter for Beaver and Muskrat Just like Our Forefathers Did
How to Make a Smokehouse and Smoke Fish
Survival Lessons From The Donner Party
Get your paperback copy HERE
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A RETURN TO THE OLD PATHS: HOW TO MAKE PEMMICAN LIKE THE NATIVE AMERICANS
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OLD FASHIONED PRESERVING-GRANDPA’S RECIPE FOR CURED SMOKED HAM
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About Theresa Crouse
Theresa Crouse is a full-time writer currently living in central Florida. She was born and raised in the hills of West Virginia, where she learned to farm, hunt, fish, and live off the land from an early age. She prefers to live off the grid as much as possible and does her best to follow the “leave nothing behind but footprints” philosophy. For fun, she enjoys shooting, kayaking, tinkering on her car and motorcycle, and just about anything else that involves water, going fast, or the outdoors. You can send Theresa a message at editor [at] survivopedia.com.