The population of the United States made some serious sacrifices during World War II. Gasoline rationing caused a major upheaval in the taxi and trucking industry and production of non war related item was curtailed. Sugar was limited to minuscule amounts on certain days of the month and people hoarded it as if it were gold. One of the most damaging curtailments was the production of beer due to the restrictions placed on barley. All the small "mom and pop" breweries could not afford to shut down for the duration of war and went out of business, leaving the beer production to a limited few. This caused a change in the American consumption of beer to a light lager type with very little competition.
However, true beer lovers do not have to consume the massed produced, watered down imitation of real brew any longer. A small investment in equipment, a quick trip to your local home-brew store, and you are on your way to making your very own beer. To begin with, you must assemble your brewing equipment, starting off with a brew pot. Any pot that can hold at least three gallons of liquid will suffice provided it has a lid.
You will need a five gallon water bottle, which we will affix with an air lock, as your fermenter. Fermentation is the process of turning your ingredients into the finer things in life, beer, while the airlock keeps bacteria out of the fermenter. The air lock is inexpensive and can be purchased at your local home-brew store for a couple of dollars. You now have the equipment needed to brew and ferment, all you need now are bottles and caps for storing and enjoying your beer.
Bottles are easily obtained from your local tavern for the cost of the deposit and caps and capping equipment are found at the home-brew store for less than ten dollars. Once you have assembled this equipment you " re ready to move on to produce your first batch of real American beer. Now that the equipment is assembled, we come to the most difficult part of brewing; deciding on a type of beer. Your local home-brew store has hundreds of kits available for making every style of beer known to man but deciding which one is right for the novice is a tough decision. I would recommend that you start with an ale type of recipe, due to its hardiness to resist temperature fluctuation. Start the brewing process by placing three gallons of water in the freezer.
Next, place two gallons of water in your brew pot and bring to a boil. After it comes to a rolling boil, add the ingredients of your brew kit (not including the yeast). The kit is measured amount of barley extract and hops, dehydrated and packaged for convenience. Stir the ingredients thoroughly, reduce the heat and simmer covered for an hour. Keep a close eye on the pot because it will boil over if not carefully monitored. When you have completed the one hour boil time, take the water from the freezer and pour into your fermenter.
This water should be about forty degrees or so, but the exact temperature is not critical. Carefully pour your hot mixture into the fermenter and allow it to mix with the cold water. This mixture of "raw" beer is called wort (rhyming with "shirt") and the temperature should stabilize around eighty five degrees. Once we have completed the cooking or the actual brewing process, we now turn to the most interesting part of the process. You should now have five gallons of wort in your fermenter and a yeast packet. Cut open the yeast pack with a sterile pair of scissors and add to your fermenter.
This is called "pitching" the yeast. You can sterilize your scissors by using alcohol or placing them briefly in a flame. Fill your air lock to the top and affix firmly to the top of your fermenter. Now we come to the hardest part of brewing: waiting. Ale yeast is a very rapid yeast and you should see your air lock begin to bubble within two to three hours. These bubbles are carbon dioxide being expelled from the yeast that is converting the starches in your wort to alcohol.
In two or three days, the bubbles should slow to one bubble per minute indicating it is ready to bottle. Siphon the wort from the fermenter into your waiting bottles, leaving approximately one inch to the top of each. Then, using your bottle capper, cap each of the bottles and place in a cool place for one week. That s all there is to it.
You can now open your beer and enjoy more flavor and texture than in most beers produced in the United States. Now that you have made your first batch, you may wish to explore many other brewing techniques and styles of beer. Home- brewing is rapidly growing throughout the United States and there are many clubs and groups that can offer support and advice. You may wish to start brewing from raw ingredients verses packaged recipes.
This will call for some serious thought and even more serious of an investment. But in the immortal words of Charlie Papp azan, the immortal leader of the home-brew movement, "Relax, don t worry and have a home-brew." 34 e.