How to grow beer

Hop Shoot All you need is a few hop plants (humulus lupulus), some malt and sugar, water and the help of Andy Hamilton.

At the end of the summer, we had loads of the female flowers which are the hops on our plants. So we stripped them and dried them on a rack on top of the woodburner. I vacuum packed them to keep them fresh until I was ready to brew.

In the new year I got out my copy of Andy Hamilton’s Booze for Free and Buhner’s Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers. They are both excellent books that I highly recommend if you would like to use foraged produce to make alcoholic drinks. And who wouldn’t want to? 😉

Hop beer recipe

I diverged slightly from Andy’s recipe. This was partly intention and partly stupidity. I substituted some of the white granulated sugar for molasses sugar. This was to make a darker beer with a deeper taste. I also used 1.5kg of malt extract instead of 1kg. Next time I’ll read the can properly…  Andy was very helpful on Twitter because he helped me by recommending which type of malt extract to use. Cheers Andy.


13 litres water
1.5kg Cooper’s Amber Malt Extract
55g dried hops
500g granulated sugar
250g molasses sugar
5g ale yeast

This made 12 litres of beer.


You’ll need a big saucepan, I used the maslin pan I make jam in.

Take 6 litres of the water and add the malt extract and sugars. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add the hops in a large muslin bag and simmer for another 30 minutes. Take out the hop bag and compost the hops. Your compost heap will love them. Tip the brew into a fermenting vessel and add the rest of the water and leave to cool to room temperature. I measured the specific gravity at 1060. This is higher than Andy’s recipe because of the extra 500g of malt extract.

Leave the liquid covered to cool until the next day and then add the yeast. Sprinkle in the ale yeast in and stir well. Cover and leave to ferment. I put my vessel on a seed propagator to maintain a 20°C+ temperature.

Leave to ferment until the specific gravity approaches 1000 and is steady. With mine, the SG settled at 1010. This gave me a beer of about 7% ABV (alcohol by volume).

Siphon the beer off the sediment into a barrel or beer bottles. Add 1tsp of sugar per litre of liquid to provide a secondary fermentation to give some fizz to the brew. Leave for 10 days to ferment and settle.
Hop Beer in GlassThis made a good dark beer with a grand malty taste with a touch of hop bitterness. It tasted a lot like Theakston’s Old Peculiar. That was easy 🙂

Watch out for more country beer recipes…

What’s your favourite beer?




4 responses to “How to grow beer”

  1. Jeremy Farr Avatar
    Jeremy Farr

    Hi Carl

    Really helpful site and while waiting for the rain to push on the asparagus, we have hedges with thickets of hop shoots to fry off in a little oil and dress with balsalmic. Yum yum.

    Just sent off for some Cicoria puntarelle di Brindisi. I hope we can keep the voles and mice or was it slugs, from eating out the crowns as the lttle beggars did to all the over-wintered artichokes. Beautiful big plants from an April sowing tucked up in straw against the minus 10 degree frosts only to pull back the straw and find black hollows where the crowns had been.

    The seedy pals sounds a great idea.

  2. Rachel Seabrook Avatar

    Not having hops in my garden, I’m currently drinking beer flavoured with heather (which I do have), made to a similar recipe to yours. I stuck with white sugar and didn’t boil the malt, so ended up with a light, crisp beer, which I like a lot. I also learnt about malt extract beer from Andy Hamilton, and I’ve had great fun experimenting with different flavours. I did eventually find some hops, and they were good too – an ounce of dried hops is a hell of a lot, isn’t it?

  3. narf77 Avatar

    Excellent share Carl. Tassie is a major hop producer and we don’t live all that far away from where they are grown on huge triffid farms…amazing things to see :). Shouldn’t be too hard to get hold of some hop vines and plant them on Serendipity Farm but till I can get them producing, I should be able to buy some hops from the farm gate. Cheers again for this wonderful recipe.