Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
James of Bayswater

Home brew (1978)

Recommended Posts

HOME BREW circa 1978

Today is the 45th anniversary of the removal of standing regulations that made home brewing of beverages over 1.15% alc/vol illegal.

To mark the occasion I am revealing the original home brew recipe I used to brew about 40 years ago.   I found it filed among my plans to change the world in the back of the wardrobe.  I knew I had it somewhere.

It was made several times and was simply known as Party Brew because it fueled student parties back in the day.  Nobody died but people got drunk and fell down.

The original custodian of the recipe was a bloke called Brain.  Sometime in the 1980's Brain transcribed the recipe onto the Commodore 64 and printed off copies for the collective.  By that stage I had upgraded to a Brigalow home brew kit and was whipping up brews from pre-hopped malt extracts and calling sugar fancy names like dextrose.  I filed Brain's recipe for old times sake....


*********************************** 
BEER BY BRAIN  (circa 1978)
******************

INGREDIENTS

100 grams of dried hops
2kg of liquid malt extract
1kg of raw sugar
1.5kg of brown sugar
1kg of white sugar
3 lemons
1 tablespoon of Epsom Salts
1 tablespoon of Salt
1 tablespoon of Parisian essence
4.5 gallons of water
0.5 teaspoon of beer yeast (or a cup of reclaimed yeast from 'Cooper's Sparkling Ale' or 'Old Ballarat')

EQUIPMENT

Large saucepan or cooking pot (1.5 gallon capacity)
A large sieve
A clean plastic garbage bin (a new plastic rubbish bin is ideal)  5+ gallon capacity
1 metre of clear plastic tubing
Beer hydrometer
1 clean plastic bucket
50 clean beer bottles
Crown seals
Crown sealer (lever action is best)

METHOD

1. Place hops in pot and add 1 gallon (4.5 liters)of hot water 
2. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes
3. Strain the hops tea through the sieve into the large plastic bin.  If necessary strain through clean fabric to remove all hops leaves and sediment
4. To the strained hops tea add :
- malt extract
- sugars (white, brown and raw)
- juice of the lemons
- Epsom Salts
- Salt
- Parisian Essence

5. Stir until sugar and malt is dissolved.
6. Add 3.5 gallons (16 litres) of cold water.  From here on the lid should be kept on the bin at all times.
7. When the temperature of the mixture (wort) has cooled to body temperature sprinkle the yeast onto the surface of the wort and replace the lid.
8. After 24 hours lift the lid to inspect the wort.  At this stage the brew should be 'working' and the surface frothy.  If the surface is still clear sprinkle more yeast. Check again after 24 hours.
9. After 2 to 3 weeks the surface will clear.  The hydrometer reading should be less than 1.005.  When this reading is reached the beer is ready for bottling.
10. Without disturbing the sediment in the bottom of the bin use the plastic tubing to syphon the beer into a clean plastic bucket.  As you do so strain the beer through clean fine fabric
11. Using a suitable clean cup or plastic measure and a funnel pour 9 fluid ounces (250ml) into each of the beer bottles which have been thoroughly cleaned in readiness (It is easy to scoop up the 9 ounces from the bucket while the yeast remains undisturbed in the large brewing bin)
12. Repeat steps 10 and 11 until the large bin is emptied.
13. Fill each of the bottle with cold water.  Do not add any priming sugar to the bottles, it is not required.
14. Seal the bottles and store them away standing upright.
15.  After 2 weeks the beer is ready but will continue to improve over a period of months.

NOTE : All equipment and bottles need to be thoroughly cleaned to prevent the growth of foreign bacteria.  Commercial sterilizers and very hot water should be used.

It is best to brew when the weather is warm but if you can't wait through the winter then the brewing will best be done in a warm room.

________________________________

Brain seems to get a bit confused with the bottling procedure.  I remember adding water at bottling but not THAT much.  He might have muddled his stubby & long neck ratios.  I think it needs to be 2:1 brew to water.

I am going to have a crack at recreating this for old time's sake, but maybe I'll halve the recipe as I don't want 50 bottles taken up with a brew that could be awful ... although that is not how I remember it  ...

 🍻

Edited by James of Bayswater
spelling
  • Like 8

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

😊 What aspect do you find most objectionable Otto ?  The ingredients ?  The Equipment ?  The Method ?

I am keen to learn what contemporary brewers think of home brewing before we had companies like Coopers to hold our hand and make it easy.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
33 minutes ago, James of Bayswater said:

😊 What aspect do you find most objectionable Otto ?  The ingredients ?  The Equipment ?  The Method ?

I am keen to learn what contemporary brewers think of home brewing before we had companies like Coopers to hold our hand and make it easy.  

My Dad and a mate of his did home brewing around this time, if not a bit earlier.  I wish they were both still around to pick their brains.

It sounds like a lot of sugar, so perhaps a higher ABV than really necessary.  Otherwise it does not look a lot different to a basic extract brew done today.  Not sure about bottle carbonation though.

Cheers Shamus

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
39 minutes ago, James of Bayswater said:

😊 What aspect do you find most objectionable Otto ?  The ingredients ?  The Equipment ?  The Method ?

I am keen to learn what contemporary brewers think of home brewing before we had companies like Coopers to hold our hand and make it easy.  

I’d find that amount of sugars raw, Brown and white to be overwhelming. 

Although back in the day other breweries did use a lot of invert sugars

Edited by The Captain1525230099

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There’s a book out there called “bronzed brews” I think that is written by an Australian beer historian, I’m sure there would be similar recipes in that book to that you have shown here.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, James of Bayswater said:

😊 What aspect do you find most objectionable Otto ?  The ingredients ?  The Equipment ?  The Method ?

I am keen to learn what contemporary brewers think of home brewing before we had companies like Coopers to hold our hand and make it easy.  

The bugger all yeast (half a teaspoon??), the massive amount of sugar, the boiling hops in plain water are the three that stand out. Probably fermented at way too high a temperature. Possible oxidation risk from straining the beer post fermentation. Unsure what the lemon juice and salt is for. Also unsure how it's meant to carbonate without any priming sugar in the bottles or why they're diluted with water other than to get more bottles out of it or lower the ABV. 

I can't obviously know what it would have tasted like but on paper it honestly looks bloody awful. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ian H's spreadsheet suggests that the wort - before it is dilluted in the bottle - has an OG of 1.100 and would be 11.4% at 20 litres.   But this is a concentrate.  Like many commercial breweries this recipe waters the concentrate down to the required strength at bottling.

But this is where Brain's instructions get confused.  He says ladle 9 fluid ounces into the bottle and fill with water.  In metrics that is 250ml wort 500ml of water - but if we followed that we would have enough wort for 80 bottles while recipe clearly calls for 50.   Also while I recall watering the bottles I don't recall it being to that extent.  

I think Brain has got confused.  Brain probably had too much to drink.  

So what to do ?  I think I need to use 50 bottles as my guide.   20 litres / 50 = 400ml.  So 400ml of wort + 350ml water = 750ml bottle for a total volume of 37.5 litres at 6.2% with a FG of 1.007.   That is a little high for FG (the recipe calls for 1.005) but it is on the right track.    I recall the beer was strong, and in those days stock beers were 4.9% so 6.0% is not out of the question... especially when Brain was involved. 

The bottle carbonation bothered me too so I think when I make it I will use carbonation drops on some bottles and not on others.  

The thing that bothered me was only 1/2 teaspoon of yeast was supposed to deal with all that sugar !  I must say that there was a section to the recipe that I didn't reproduce above that deals with making yeast from the dregs of 'Cooper's Sparkling Ale' or 'Old Ballarat'  (now there is a blast from the past) and it reads like a word perfect account of Coopers instructions for reactivating their yeast.  

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
32 minutes ago, The Captain1525230099 said:

There’s a book out there called “bronzed brews” I think that is written by an Australian beer historian, I’m sure there would be similar recipes in that book to that you have shown here.

I am going to look that up Captain.  I should own up at this point to having been a historian by trade so I get excited by the idea of a 'beer historian'.

Found it ...

product_thumbnail.php?productId=22521415

ISBN 9780994453501
 
6 O'CLOCK Brews
ISBN  9780994453518  
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Otto Von Blotto said:

The bugger all yeast (half a teaspoon??), the massive amount of sugar, the boiling hops in plain water are the three that stand out. Probably fermented at way too high a temperature. Possible oxidation risk from straining the beer post fermentation. Unsure what the lemon juice and salt is for. Also unsure how it's meant to carbonate without any priming sugar in the bottles or why they're diluted with water other than to get more bottles out of it or lower the ABV. 

I can't obviously know what it would have tasted like but on paper it honestly looks bloody awful. 

Thanks Otto, 

I am with  you with regards to the measly amount of yeast (i.e 3.5g) and the lack of priming sugar in the bottles.  

I don't really understand why high gravity brewing is necessary in this instance or why 50 bottles need to be the target.  I don't want to commit 50 bottles to a brew that might be 'bloody awful' - or spend twice as much as I need to produce a test batch . I also don't want to fart about with ladels and funnels and pouring water and wort into bottles.  It sounds like twice as much work as it needs to be.  

I am going to brew a batch of 20 litres or 4.5 gallons (24 bottles) by halving all the ingredients and bottling directly from the FV without any dilution but with a carbonation drop (or two) in each of the bottles.  I am going to knock 500ml of the brown sugar off the recipe to moderate the colour and alcohol.  Ian's spreadsheet looks like this :

 

1978HOMEBREW.jpg

This is not an attempt to brew wonderful beer.  This an attempt to brew the beer I was drinking forty years ago.  There are problems with Brain's recipe but this recipe should come close. 

Note : I will use Saunders Malt Extract from Woolies.  I only used Coopers Light Malt on the spread sheet as a guide.

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very interesting recipe, what hops are you planning on using for this ? Hard to imagine that this beer would of fully fermented out back in the day and hit that ABV . Definatly agree in doing a small batch for this reminiscent style brew and suggest doing a couple primed to taste the difference as iv missed a couple during bottling before and when you pour and attempt to consume them the difference in taste and feel is massive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The hop variety wasn't specified but given the dominance of Pride of Ringwood at the time that is what I imagine we used.  

The problem is that my bloke doesn't stock Pride of Ringwood or Super Pride.  He has quite a range but not those.  

Anyone have any suggestions for substitutes ?  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great read Blacksands.  Enjoyed every word of it.  I just hope my 1978 brew terms out as well as yours did.

I will be using Saunders Malt Extract as I assume that is what we used in Melbourne in 1978.  The company is Melbourne based and I was raised on it.  The label in those days featured a baby boy holding a steel girder over his head with one hand while the other hand held a spanner.  He is still on the current label but he has been relegated to the bottom right.maltbaby.jpgmaltextract.jpg

Eventually they stopped putting Malt Extract on my toast and added Vegemite instead.  And they wonder why I drinks a bit.

Your account of the hops was enlightening.  My assumption that we used Pride of Ringwood because they were great majority of hops grown in Victoria could well be false.  It sounds like people sourced whatever hops they could - in your case Striklebract.  And he is the thing : While my bloke doesn't stock Pride of Ringwood he does stock Striklebract - so I am going to follow your lead.

I agree that as a young man, me and my peers were impressed with the knowledge that more sugar in the brew meant more alcohol and that would account for the obscene amount of sugar in the 1978 brew (60% of the fermentables).  My feeling is that the home brew 'twang' was the result of obscene amounts of added sugar and it was absent from your revival brew because you didn't add any sugar at all.  But I have messed with the original recipe enough already and if it has that home brew twang then so be it.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fantastic James, may History never repeat!!

Pioneering has its pitfalls, thanks for sharing.

45 years where the fook did they go?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Indeed Yeasty.  Where did they go ?  

Nostalgia is something we only really understand as we get older.  Often we are inclined to remember the good old days too fondly and a exercise like this is likely to give me a more realistic account of what I was drinking 40 years ago than my failing memory can provide.

The Saunders extract is not an issue for me.  I am trying to recreate the brew and I'll go with the supermarket malt for authenticity.  Blacksands made all the pertinent points about using what was available and just how scarce brewing supplies were in those days.  I want to revisit the beer I was brewing and drinking 40 years ago - warts and all.  

I suppose the obvious question is 'why ?' 

Well, I still know some of the boys and girls of the  collective that made this swill and others of the same age and if I called them in for session of old brew and spun some records while we had a few laughs and told the same old stories I reckon it would be pretty Rocktober.  

I might even spring for a few large Hawiians and an Aussie with an egg on top. 

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[Initial kits were 20 litre “bag in a boxwort packs with the beer being brewed in ... method that allowed us to gently concentrate the wort which reduced the size ...] I remember lugging these things home and  throwing them in a clean rubbish bin, kilo of sugar , I think they came with yeast , wouldn't have been much though

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey John,  

How did the 'bag in a box' drink ?  Did you go back for more ?

 

I've been in the archives.

While we were trying our hand at home brewing in rubbish bins in the late 1970's some were encountering problems....

bottledboom.jpg

...but help was on its way...

 

coopersAWW.jpg                                                     father%2527sDay.jpg

 

and where did we get it ?   

 

tucker.jpg  Nope.        The Health Food store of course.....healthylife.jpg

 

  • Like 3
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi James, we use to pick up a load of the wort boxes from the coopers brewery when it was in leabrook here in Adelaide. Did that till the cans came out,

cheers,

john

ps .it was pretty ordinary compared with today 

Edited by John304

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While it wont came as much comfort to Yvonne Hovey of Mt Isa  but exploding bottles weren't confined to home brewers.  

It was reported n the 1970's that there were 62,000 incidences of exploding bottles causing injury in the USA per annum with 25,000 requiring emergency room treatment.  

We were on the cusp of plastic bottles and cartons in the 1970's and of the reports in the press related to exploding bottles at the time mainly related to soft drinks and usually involved the bottle being dropped before it was picked up and exploded.

I know I have drifted off recipe topic into history but it is providing some fun context for my 1978 ale.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×