Back in about 1971,I found a recipe for homebrew in an alternative newspaper called the San Jose (CA) Redeye. Without a doubt, this kit (and kaboodle)was cheap. A 10 gallon plastic waste basket was the primary fermenter. SaranWrap was the "lid". The most expensive component was a hydrogemeter, which may not have been needed, but added a bit of weird science to the whole project. Blue Ribbon Malt Syrup was used for the wort, available only at Lucky Supermarkets in San Jose. Boil the wort, which was Santa Clara County tapwater,let it cool, pour it into the plastic waste basket, throw in some regular old Fleischman's bread-making yeast, add a bag (I forget weather it was 3 pounds or 5 pounds) of C&H pure cane sugar (from Hawaii),saving a couple of cups for "bottlin' sugar" to create carbonation, let it sit for a couple of days covered with SaranWrap, check the alcohol content (specific gravity) with the hydrogemeter every day or two. When it reached a certain point (which point I can't remember...) it was time to bottle it. We used old 7-Up and Squirt quart-bottles that we bought a the local fleamarket. Rule of thumb: the more sugar used, the greater the alcohol content.
Then, when specific gravity was appropriately attained, pour in the extra couple of cups of "bottlin' sugar", let it set for a bit, then siphon the brew (sure smelled good at that point) out of the plastic waste basket using some clear plastic "aquarium" tubing, into your 7-Up-Squirt quarts, and cap'em. (the capper was about 5 bucks back then, and we considered it an investment in the future), we got new caps somewhere...cork lined. We put the stuff in my parents' basement and let it sit for at least two weeks, but could hardly wait to sample the stuff, which we did after about a week-and-a-half. All the yeast sediment clung to bottom of the bottle, but that was de rigueur for the process and you had to carefull pour it...no filtration. It was all right, completely unlike what we were used to in commercial beers like Bud, Coors, et al. The carbonation was awesome, leading to much flatulence and eructation, but I remember sitting on a lawn chair watching the sunset out over the Los Gatos hills and feeling quite content. The recipe's yield was something like 8 gallons. Later on I tried fancier approaches and got a better, albeit more-expensive-to-make beer.
The craft brewing industry was still in the future, there were no fancy homebrewing shops, although I believe Red Hook, out of Ballard, WA was just starting up, and even though I graduated from Chico State in 1976, Sierra Nevada Brewery was still non-existent...
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