Author Topic: Homebrew pre 1978 stories?  (Read 1157 times)

Offline majorvices

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Homebrew pre 1978 stories?
« on: May 13, 2021, 12:55:11 PM »
The first time I was ever in a homebrew shop was probably in the late 70's or very early 80's. My dad was a home wine maker and I specifically remember us stopping in an old winemaking shop somewhere in Strasburg, PA. I distinctly remember there was beer making equipment sold there and I swear I remember seeing whole leaf hops. They were dried up and brown and just sitting out in the open.

I also remember seeing "Blue Ribbon Malt Extract' on grocery store shelves. In fact, I remember seeing this all the way up until about 2005 or so.

I didn't start homebrewing until the mid 90's but I do rememeber drinking homebrew in the mid 80's at a friends house and in my memories it wasn't too bad. Of course I was probably 16 so, you know how that goes. It was beer.

Anyway, this all got me to thinking about yeast (bread yeast and wine yeast I assume is all that was available), hops (could I be misremembering seeing hops that early?), specialty grains, etc. I was wondering when actual 2-row and the like started showing up in homebrew shops. I owned a copy of Papzian's "The Complete Joy..." but it was a later edition. I'd enjoy reading his first edition.

Anyway, I was wondering what history some of ya'll might have and be willing to share.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2021, 01:12:54 PM by majorvices »

Offline jeffy

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Re: Homebrew pre 1978 stories?
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2021, 01:54:06 PM »
The first time I was ever in a homebrew shop was probably in the late 70's or very early 80's. My dad was a home wine maker and I specifically remember us stopping in an old winemaking shop somewhere in Strasburg, PA. I distinctly remember there was beer making equipment sold there and I swear I remember seeing whole leaf hops. They were dried up and brown and just sitting out in the open.

I also remember seeing "Blue Ribbon Malt Extract' on grocery store shelves. In fact, I remember seeing this all the way up until about 2005 or so.

I didn't start homebrewing until the mid 90's but I do rememeber drinking homebrew in the mid 80's at a friends house and in my memories it wasn't too bad. Of course I was probably 16 so, you know how that goes. It was beer.

Anyway, this all got me to thinking about yeast (bread yeast and wine yeast I assume is all that was available), hops (could I be misremembering seeing hops that early?), specialty grains, etc. I was wondering when actual 2-row and the like started showing up in homebrew shops. I owned a copy of Papzian's "The Complete Joy..." but it was a later edition. I'd enjoy reading his first edition.

Anyway, I was wondering what history some of ya'll might have and be willing to share.
I bought the first edition of Charlie's "Joy" in the early 90's at Liberty Malt Supply on a trip through Seattle.  I don't have that book any more, but one thing I remember was the absence of an index that the new version included.
My first kit was a can brought over from England called Dogbolter Bitter.
I had to mail order supplies most of the time, even though there was a hydroponics shop locally that had some stuff.  Yes, the hops were whole and out in the store in plastic bags.  I didn't like patronizing that store because it seemed like a front for weed-growing supplies and I didn't want to get busted.
Jeff Gladish, Tampa (989.3, 175.1 Apparent Rennarian)
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Offline MDixon

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Re: Homebrew pre 1978 stories?
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2021, 03:12:17 PM »
I started in 1998, so I don't have any first hand knowledge of the early days.

With that in mind, one of our club members always mentioned at that time they got hops in powder form from a bakery. Actually he said it was more like a brick. I have no idea why a bakery would have hop powder/brick.
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Offline denny

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Re: Homebrew pre 1978 stories?
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2021, 03:46:15 PM »
I started in 1998, so I don't have any first hand knowledge of the early days.

With that in mind, one of our club members always mentioned at that time they got hops in powder form from a bakery. Actually he said it was more like a brick. I have no idea why a bakery would have hop powder/brick.

Could he have confused it with DME?  I can see a bakery having that.
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Offline majorvices

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Re: Homebrew pre 1978 stories?
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2021, 03:54:12 PM »
... or yeast?

Offline denny

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Re: Homebrew pre 1978 stories?
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2021, 04:58:44 PM »
... or yeast?

Possibly, huh?  But I know most bakeries have some form of malt extract around.
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Offline BrewBama

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Re: Homebrew pre 1978 stories?
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2021, 05:09:23 PM »
I was a cpl decades late. My first brew was in ‘92. I used extract kits from William’s that I boiled on the stove in an enameled steel canning pot, fermented in plastic buckets in the storage shed in Savannah Georgia (no temp control ), and bottled in Grolsh-style ‘flippies’.  The only instructions I had came with the kits.

I took several years break while stationed in Europe and picked back up in ‘13 when AL made homebrewing legal.

I still have the enamel pot, a nylon spoon, and the buckets. I use the pot in the garage to sit on while working on a generator, tractor, or car, the bucket is my dedicated Iodophors mixing bucket (stained orange), and the spoon is still in service. Don’t have any clue where the rest of my original equipment ended up.



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Offline waterbull66

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Re: Homebrew pre 1978 stories?
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2021, 05:26:11 PM »
  My introduction to homebrew was at a friend's house about '78, he shared some he'd made - his 1st batch-  and it really was an epiphany. The beer was fabulous, at least in comparison to the NAILs that we all drank back then, and the idea that a person could make good beer themselves was just way too cool. About 6 years later I decided it was time to find out how to make beer myself and that turned out to be a bit of a tall order, especially way out here in BFE. No internet to search, only a local bookstore who's owner happened to remember seeing a book about homebrewing [not Papazian's] which was very rudimentary but good enough to get started. Finding a place to buy supplies was really a challenge with no LHBS and no one I knew that brewed to share a source, I somehow found an outfit in MA called The Village Store to order from. John Bull & Munton's LDME, Red Star and Edme yeast, only 2 kinds of hops and totally stone age equipment - I still have the old hand crank Corona grain mill residing in it's place of dishonor in the museum of torture devices. As someone else mentioned I could occasionally find LDME on the shelf at the grocery store back then. The changes since then are just unbelievable and I think all for the better.

Offline fredthecat

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Re: Homebrew pre 1978 stories?
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2021, 06:10:13 PM »
I heard my grandma made her own beer. She was extremely DIY, like me. No other info than that, except I think it may likely be true. She grew up on a poor small farm during the 20s and depression, and AFAIK they would just do and make whatever they wanted. There is also a chance she might have inherited some kind of farmhouse brewing recipes or guidelines from her german parents/relatives. Too bad she's gone, I never met her anyway.

Offline MDixon

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Re: Homebrew pre 1978 stories?
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2021, 06:55:33 PM »
https://www.craftbeer.com/craft-beer-muses/stirring-tale-behind-father-homebrewing-charlie-papazian-spoon

Quote
Malt extract kits called for hefty amounts of added sugar, hops came pressed in brown bricks, and the tools of the hobby were a far cry from today’s sophisticated options.
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Offline majorvices

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Re: Homebrew pre 1978 stories?
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2021, 07:24:05 PM »
Huh .... learn something new. Brown bricks. Wonder if that was industry wide.

Offline fredthecat

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Re: Homebrew pre 1978 stories?
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2021, 08:10:59 PM »
Huh .... learn something new. Brown bricks. Wonder if that was industry wide.

aged hops used to be something desired at different places and in different time periods, even in germany and england at times I believe.

I guess it's to minimize hop flavour, while still providing some bitterness?

Offline majorvices

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Re: Homebrew pre 1978 stories?
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2021, 08:41:02 PM »
Huh .... learn something new. Brown bricks. Wonder if that was industry wide.

aged hops used to be something desired at different places and in different time periods, even in germany and england at times I believe.

I guess it's to minimize hop flavour, while still providing some bitterness?

I know they are popular in flemish styles ... I imagine they would work ok for bittering

Offline HopDen

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Re: Homebrew pre 1978 stories?
« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2021, 09:54:27 PM »
Its not pre 78' but 1987.Its my first time making beer. I bought a complete kit with fermentor, air lock, the whole 9 yards right? I cleaned and sanitized the fermentor and let it air dry. Gather ed tap water and boiled it. Added the John Bull LME and hops!! Man Im getting excited smelling the aromas! Cooled the wort, pitched the yeast and placed the bubbler on top. Put it in a cool corner of the living room and waited for what felt like years. I wanted to try this beer that I knew was going to be DELICIOUS. Now comes bottling time and more waiting...... Finally the day arrives and I have a few friends from work over to try with me. Ive been bragging this beer up for weeks. We each decant a bottle into a glass, give it a big sniff, up to the lips it goes...down the hatch... the look on our faces was priceless as we immediately realized that what we just swallowed was the most hideous swill any of us had ever tasted. I was embarrassed to say the least and endured days of ball busting torment more so because I bragged this putrid elixir to no end!! It was another decade before I even thought about making "beer" again! Ahhhh the good old s***ty bad days!!

Offline fredthecat

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Re: Homebrew pre 1978 stories?
« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2021, 09:57:20 PM »
Its not pre 78' but 1987.Its my first time making beer. I bought a complete kit with fermentor, air lock, the whole 9 yards right? I cleaned and sanitized the fermentor and let it air dry. Gather ed tap water and boiled it. Added the John Bull LME and hops!! Man Im getting excited smelling the aromas! Cooled the wort, pitched the yeast and placed the bubbler on top. Put it in a cool corner of the living room and waited for what felt like years. I wanted to try this beer that I knew was going to be DELICIOUS. Now comes bottling time and more waiting...... Finally the day arrives and I have a few friends from work over to try with me. Ive been bragging this beer up for weeks. We each decant a bottle into a glass, give it a big sniff, up to the lips it goes...down the hatch... the look on our faces was priceless as we immediately realized that what we just swallowed was the most hideous swill any of us had ever tasted. I was embarrassed to say the least and endured days of ball busting torment more so because I bragged this putrid elixir to no end!! It was another decade before I even thought about making "beer" again! Ahhhh the good old s***ty bad days!!

wow, thats p crazy. it was a lack of sanitation? was it sour? bad yeast?