Think homebrewing is difficult? Here’s a recipe for Cottage Beer:
“Good wheat bran 1 peck, water 10 gallons, hops 3 handfuls, molasses 2 quarts, yeast 2 tablespoonfuls; boil the bran and the hops in the water until both bran and hops sink to the bottom; then strain through a sieve, and when lukewarm put in the molasses and stir until assimilated; put in a cask and add the yeast; when fermentation ceases bung, and it is ready in 4 days. This is an excellent beer.”
Doesn’t look too hard, although I’m not vouching for the end result. The recipe comes from a book called Lee’s Priceless Recipes, which included “300 secrets from the home, farm, laboratory, workshop and every department of human endeavor.”
The book was published in 1912, and I expect that all the pages in Beverages section were stamped “NOT LEGAL TO MAKE” when Prohibition came into full force in 1919.
Not sure why Corn Coffee would have been illegal, other than it sounds disgusting. Cherry Cordial, Egg Wine and Peruvian Bitters I can understand.
As you can tell by the Cottage Beer recipe, most of these were kitchen-size batches. But the one for Home-Brewed Ale? That takes 8 bushels of malt, 12 pounds of hops and 5 quarts of yeast. It calls for straining the cooled wort through a flannel bag into a fermenting tub.
My point? That ingredients grown and processed specifically to use in beer make better beer. And better ingredients make it better still.