Home Brewing Without Failures

Home Brewing Without Failures by H.E. Bravery

Bailey’s mum keeps her eye out for books on beer and brewing and pops them in our Christmas stockings as little extras. Suffice to say, they are often among the most interesting gifts we receive.

Following on from yesterday’s post about reckless, thrill-filled world of elderflower champagne making, here are some hints and tips from Home Brewing Without Failures by H.E. Bravery (1965; our edition 1969).

1.”For fermentation purposes, a polythene dustbin bought especially for the purpose is ideal… [A] thick polythene bag… may be used quite well for fermenting beers provided it has suitable support… [such as] an old barrel.”

2. “Where there must be no flavouring from the sugar and where darkening must be practised… gravy browning may be used, but go easy with it.” (B&B’s emphasis.)

3. “How does the trade get the yeast out of bottles? The fact is that they let them ferment right out, and then siphon the still beer into bottles… and then charge them with gas. The word used is ‘carbonated’. Maybe one day there will be a means by which any home operator will be able to do this; until then, the commercial brewer has the advantage over us.”

4. “Mild Ale recipe ingredients: 4 lb crystal malt, 3 lb demerara sugar, 1 lb. flaked maize, 5 oz hops, small level teaspoonful salt, ¼ oz citric acid, dessertspoonful caramel.” (B&B’s emphasis.)

5. “Brown Ale I recipe ingredients: 4 lb roasted malt, 1 lb black patent malt, 4 lb demerara sugar, 4 oz hops, 1 level teaspoonful salt, ½ oz citric acid, yeast, nutrient.” (B&B’s emphasis.)

6. “I have come to the conclusion that France and the Frenchman do not know what good beer really is… Beers in France are more like thin lager and I have a suspicion — probably false — that some of them are produced from the remnants of the grape crops.”

7. If you decide to make beer with black grapes “use only the juice… otherwise you will have a pink lager owing to the colour coming from the grape skins. Pink Lager — well, why not? The die-hards will be at my throat for this one!”

Doesn’t that last one sound like Count Arthur Strong?

12 replies on “Home Brewing Without Failures”

I’ve never seen that one before! Do tell me what the bottle priming recommendation is please.

Isn’t gravy browning Caramel? Loads of breweries use caramel to colour their beer. It’s not a very ‘craft’ ingredient though.

I’m sure I saw a bottle of gravy browning with instructions for use in home brewing recently, it is indeed just caramel.

He suggests bottling before fermentation as ended; if you ‘want to make a draught beer into a gaseous beer you will have to add sugar’ at a rate of ‘not more than three ounces to the gallon’. If too much sugar is added ‘your precious beer will have to be licked off the ceiling’.

He lists caramel and gravy browning as distinct ingredients; I seem to recall gravy browning being salty and slightly ‘umami’ — more like dark soy sauce than anything else.

Okay, I can’t resist. I apologise.

85g per 4.5 litres? Let’s see, 416g per 22 litres…that’s 191.36g of CO2 per 22 litres. That’s 8.7g/l, or about 4.35 volumes of CO2. Assuming that the ‘old school’ homebrew was at 20C after fermentation, that would give the bottles of beer 5.25 volumes of CO2.

5.25 volumes of CO2 in every bottle.

“A pinch of salt boiled with the hops, and a few crystals of citric acid per gallon will also assist fermentation.”

The moaning about the French and their weird lager goes on for several pages: “One practice I hope will not catch on over here is that of wiping the head off freshly poured beer with, above all things, a lolly stick. In Paris, Lyons, Dijon, Marseilles, Toulon — everywhere we went the barkeeper dutifully performed this deplorable act. My French being better than my Russian it needed only half an hour of gesticulating to make clear that the English do not like their beers guillotined.”

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