hist-brewing: non-period fermenting vessel and yeast and recipe

bjm10 at cornell.edu bjm10 at cornell.edu
Tue Jun 29 07:22:31 PDT 1999

On Mon, 28 Jun 1999, Thomas Thornhill wrote:

>     And more, does anyone have very simple recipes for the above =
> mentioned brewing? That is to say those of low malt and hops but wanting =
> to add some flavor.

Actually, weak near-beers are very much historical, and during 
Prohibition, illicit brewers would use whatever equipment was on hand.  
Of course, plastic wasn't available at that time, but during the dark 
days of 1933-1976 (or thereabouts), when winemaking was legal but 
homebrewing illegal in the USA, there were several recipes floating about 
that used too little malt extract, too little hops, and too much sucrose.

Here's a few from the Cat's Meow:

Source: Stephen Hansen (hansen at gloworm.Stanford.edu) Issue #462, 7/18/90 

Back when I first started making beer (about 20 years ago now) I actually
made several batches using this recipe. The results varied from barely
drinkable to snail bait. I especially like his comparison in the last line
of the original---"This should make 5 cases of pint bottles of beer equal
to or superior to Millers High Life." 


       1 can, Blue Ribbon malt 
       1 pack, Fleishmann's yeast 
       1 cup, rice 
       1 tablespoon, salt 
       5 pounds, powdered cane sugar 


In a large (3 gallon) porcelain pan, add 3 quarts water and bring to boil.
Add sugar, stirring. Bring back up to boil and add 1 can of malt.  Return
to boil again and let simmer for 15 minutes. Fill large glass 1/2 full of
luke warm water (not over 130 degrees) and add rice, yeast, and salt. 

Clean crock and fill 1/3 full of warm water. Pour in wort. Add cold water
to within 3 inches of top. Add yeast solution and cover. After 6- 10 hours
remove foam with wire strainer. Let sit until hydrometer says "bottle."
Fill bottles, adding 1/2 teaspoon sugar to each. Cap and let stand 21


Source: Robb Holmes (RHOLMES at uga.cc.uga.edu) Issue #805, 1/20/92 

One crock can be eliminated if the liquid is siphoned directly into the
bottles from the fermented crock. In this case, place 1/2 teaspoon sugar
in each pint or one teaspoon in each quart bottle. Best consistent results
can be obtained if a five gallon bottle is used instead of a crock for the
fermenting vessel, using a water seal. All vessels and tubing should be
entirely clear and sanitary before use. A 2-3% warm lye solution is an
excellent one for the purpose.  Rinse with water after the use of lye
solution. Use of Hydrometer is not necessary if the above directions are
followed. The specific gravity at the time of bottling will however, be
1.012 - 1.016. 

This is the third and final installment of traditional "Prohibition
Pilsner" recipes received anonymously, presumably from the makers of Blue
Ribbon malt syrup, in the mid-1970's. Previous installments of Historical
Homebrew appeared in Homebrew Digest # 795 and # 800. This is posted here
purely for historical interest, and not as a recommended recipe, although
the techniques called for here seem to be much closer to currently
recommended procedures for beginning brewers, than in the earlier
historical postings. The format of the original is retained as much as


       1 can, hop-flavored malt syrup 
       3/4 pound, granulated sugar 
       1 cake, compressed yeast (or Vierka dry lager yeast) 


Dissolve syrup and sugar in boiling hot water---pour into cold water to
make five gallons---allow to further cool for two hours, then add one cake
yeast. Cover crock or other fermenting vessel with clean cloth. Keep in a
cool, dark place. Watch carefully and when bubbles of gas cease coming to
surface fermentation has been completed and liquor should be quite clear
(approximately four days). 

Now siphon off clear liquid to another clean crock, leaving the thick
sediment behind. To the liquor in the second crock add 1/4 pound
granulated sugar and stir until dissolved. Fill into bottle by siphoning
or pouring. Cap and immediately store in a cool dark place. The beverage
will be ready for use when clear---requires one to two weeks. 

One from Prohibition days:

Source: Bruce T. Hill, (dannet!bruce at uunet.UU.NET) Issue #788, 12/23/91 

My sister-in-law's mother gave this following recipe to me. It dates back
to the 1930's. They grew up in a predominantly Polish part of Chicago
where it was traditional to make home-made beer for festive occasions
(like Christmas!). The recipe is pretty rough by our modern homebrewing
standards, but it shows that the homebrewing spirit was alive and well
several decades ago. 


       one 3--pound can, hop-flavored malt syrup 
       3 pounds, corn sugar 
       1 package, settler 
       1 cake, Fleischmann's yeast 


Bring one gallon water to boiling point using a pan large enough to hold
water, malt syrup and corn sugar. Add malt syrup and stir until mixed. 
Stir in corn sugar slowly until dissolved. Settler should be mixed in with
sugar at this time for best results.history:prohibition recipes

Place crock on box or chair (not on floor), pour in three gallons of luke
warm water, then add hot ingredients. Now add sufficient luke warm water
to make 5 and 1/2 gallons of liquid in the 6 gallon crock. 

Dissolve yeast in cup of luke warm water and 1 teaspoon sugar. Allow
mixture to stand until yeast starts working, usually within 1/2 hour. Add
the working yeast to mixture in crock and stir until mixed throughly. 

Chill before serving. When pouring, slant bottle and glass and pour slowly
to prevent clouding. 

If it is cloudy or tastes gritty, you have disturbed the sediment by
shaking it up or by pouring too fast. 

If it tastes "flat" you either bottled it too late, or did not allow it to
age long enough. 

If it tends to foam up or tastes "airy", you bottled it too soon. The
mixture had not completed. 

Use of tester. Tester is accurate when it is kept at uniform 65 or 70. 
The tester will settle the first day between 3 and 6. This is the
approximate alcohol content. When the tester settles to 1/2% or the red
line "B" it is ready to bottle. If the test settles to "W" it means it is
too flat. Taste to determine if it has turned sour. If not, then add one
teaspoon of sugar to the quart of 1/2 teaspoon to the pint before capping,
to restore life to it. In the event it has soured, it is spoiled. 

There are several other interesting recipes to explore at 

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