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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I've decided to burn some time by trying out my first home brew. It has come with many challenges though. I do not have access to barley other than pearled barley, which I am not going to use, nor do I have access to hops. I have come up with some ingredients that I can use but I don't know what ratios I should be using and whether the ingredients will work or not. My ingredients list are as follows:

  • Hops replacement:
    • Green Tea
    • Orange Peel
    • Coriander
  • Grains:
    • Rye (Lightly malted at home)
    • Rye (Green malt to ensure enzymes for breaking down carbs)
    • Wheat (Lightly malted at home)
    • Corn (Lightly malted at home)
  • Potential adjuncts:
    • Eucalyptus honey
    • Squeezed Orange Juice (probably not going to use this)
  • Carbonating sugar:
    • Eucalyptus Honey
  • Yeast
    • Standard baker's yeast

I would like suggestions on ratios, anything I should add to my list, and anything that I should perhaps omit.

Could anyone give me some advice?

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Let's start with your hops replacements. Traditionally (before hops became common) all sorts of other herbs were used. These all had something in common: an intense bitter flavor. You need the bitterness to offset the otherwise cloying sweetness of the beer. While green tea, orange peel or coriander may work to flavor a beer (not sure I'd enjoy a coriander-flavored beer) you still need some bittering.

Tradional "gruit" botanicals used in ye olde beeres included Sweet Gale, Mugwort, Sage, Yarrow, Ivy, Horehound, Heather and a host of other weird and wonderful weeds, most of which have anti-bacterial properties and an intensely bitter taste.

Your grains should work, provided you have enough enzymes in the mix to convert the starches into sugars.

Honey will improve your fermentability. Golden syrup also works.

If you want to make a fruit beer, you can try adding jam or marmalade to the mix.

Not sure about the baker's yeast. This will almost certainly not give you the right flavour profile and the alcohol tolerance may or may not be more than a percent or two, depending on what you've got.

That said, if this is all you have and you're looking for a way to kill time, then give it a go! Make sure to let us know what happens!

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  • Thanks @FrankvanWensveen! I know that coriander is often used in wheat beers and I've read that it can actually add quite a citrus taste to the beer. I am planning to use coriander seed which hopefully doesn't make the beer taste like coriander plant. I'm not trying to make a curry :). I am nervous of using something like sage. I would have thought that would taste awful. South African supermarkets don't really have any of your other suggestions. I've heard that steeping/ boiling tea for a long time can create a bitter taste. It definitely won't help in the anti-bacterial department though. – user11803869 Apr 17 at 12:39
  • I am worried about the yeast's resistance to alcohol. Perhaps I should leave out the honey of the wort. I don't want to have too sweet a beer. If the yeast dies before I can ferment all the sugars, then I may end up with a very sweet beer. – user11803869 Apr 17 at 12:42
  • Coriander is not often used in wheat beers. It is used in some Belgian ales but only as a hint in the background. If you can taste the coriander, you've used too much. The cloves flavor (not coriander) in wheat beer is a phenol that comes from the yeast; cloves or other spices are not used to flavor the beer. – Frank van Wensveen Apr 18 at 11:10
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    Bread yeast will work just fine. Look up the Brulosophy article on bread vs. beer yeast. It works just fine. Secondly, malting at home can be done but you've chosen grains that don't have as much diastatic unless you stick to more wheat malt, but then you have to nail down all the malting aspects properly. I would add 10-20% more of your home malt just to make sure you get good conversion and make it mostly wheat. Rosemary is a good substitute for hops. Tea can help with bittering too. Juniper fronds are the best substitute. See if you can find some locally. Malting will be your biggest issue – farmersteve Apr 19 at 15:28
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    I'm re-reading your question and you can't "lightly" malt and expect any conversion. You need to go fully malted if you want to make a real beer. Otherwise, you should just make some jailhouse wine from bread, raisins, sugar and yeast. – farmersteve Apr 23 at 16:49
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I would get some honey, maybe some fruit, bakers' yeast and make a mead.

Factory produced bread yeast generally has an alcohol tolerance of around 14% AbV.

https://www.growforagecookferment.com/mead-recipes/

You can probably also buy malt extract (cooking grade) in the baking section.

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  • It depends on the yeast; unless the manufacturer has supplied details you simply don't know the alcohol tolerance of bread yeast. But 14%ABV is very ambitions for such a yeast! Around 9% is more realistic. That said, the biggest problem with bread yeast is the flavour profile, not the ABV limit. – Frank van Wensveen Apr 25 at 11:45

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