Raise a pint of your own to beat minimum unit pricing

Raise a pint of your own to beat minimum unit pricing

by Jonathan Stanley
article from Thursday 31, May, 2018

MINIMUM UNIT PRICING has threatened to increase the price of cheap wholesome booze for many years now. I can't think of a better response than to defiantly brew our own beer, especially given Edinburgh's fine brewing tradition.

The wretched policy has arrived. Now the cheapest beer and wine has been lifted in price on the understanding people will simply not buy it or be forced to buy better quality alcohol for the same price.

Scotland is a nation of drinkers. We do it rather well. Some of us too well. That must never be an excuse to hit everyone else with a draconian policy that will not stop addicts from becoming or remaining addicted nor young men and women tearing apart A&E's after a night out.

It has been pushed by paternalists, opposed by megabreweries knocking out cheap cider and other alcoholic gunges, and what we see is a blossoming industry in homebrewing again. Some shops now offer very sophisticated beer kits, a wide variety of hops and for the uninitiated it can be a bit overwhelming!

Minimum unit pricing is nothing other than prohibition for the poor. 

And yet making one's own beer can be extremely cheap. Having brewed my own for the last seven years I have a reasonable idea of what can and cannot be made quickly and cheaply, using as many shortcuts as possible.

In prison's in America inmates regularly make something horrendous called Pruno, or prison wine. Water, sugar, and fruit together make something vaguely drinkable and quite potent. 

I’ve cut through all the myths and legends to produce something very drinkable, very safe and super easy to make. 

The minimal outlay uses a three pot method for brewing a nice beer though for the first batch only two bottles are needed. You'll see why later. So here we go. All the goodness and flavour, no fuss and no pesky cleaning and sanitising usually essential for clean brewing.


For 5 litres of my Funky Vikingbeer you will need:

2 x 5L bottles of spring water. Size matters, these bottles will be your fermenters!

Aromatic beer yeast: Either Belle Saison or T58. These are Belgian types, great for summer weather or indoor brewing. If you want to buy some fancy Kveik yeast from Brewstore you will use the same yeast the Vikings used!

The flavours are a big part of any beer and I find these two are great for this recipe. Both can be bought online here: http://www.brewstore.co.uk/danstar-belle-saison-beer-brewing-yeast

Danstar Belle Saison Beer Brewing Yeast - Brew Store


brewing yeast for making beer from brewstore a brewers yeast for quick and successful home brew beer fermentation

500g Medium Dry Spray malt

This is dried malt, easy to use and store. Also can be bought from Brewstore.

250g Light Muscovado sugar.  

Dries out the beer and boosts the alcohol.

10g Dried Yarrow. 

Can be bought from Neals Yard in Edinburgh. 50g will do 25 litres as a mild bittering herb. You can of course use a second hop tea bag and boil it for an hour if you're an expert. Yarrow needs no boiling so it's a lot simpler.

1 hop teabag from Brewstore

Saaz hops for a European flavour, Chinook for a grapefruity American taste.


So, this is how we do it.

1. Pour out 1 litre of water from a 5 litre bottle into a pan. Bring to the boil and then turn OFF the heat. Add the sugar, malt and the yarrow. Stir until sugar and malt has dissolved. Add the hop tea bag and leave to stew for 5 minutes. Strain out all loose material

2. Pour another half litre of water into the pan, and then pour the pan back into the 5L bottle.

3. Sprinkle in about a quarter of the packet of yeast.

4. Place the cap back on, screwing it on about halfway. Give the bottle a squeeze. If air is hissing through the cap it is on tight enough. 

5. Leave this for two weeks covered from the light. After the first week screw the cap tight. By two weeks it will be beer.

6. Pour water from a second 5L bottle into a pan. Empty the bottle completely.

7. Pour the beer from the first bottle into the second gently, avoiding bubbling, and leaving as much yeasty gunk on in the first bottle as possible. Add 5 tsps of sugar. Screw this second bottle tight for a day. Cool in a fridge for two days.

8. This beer is now ready either to store in the bottle or to pour into smaller 500ml bottles with plastic caps. By this point their will be enough sugar to make the beer beer slightly gassy but not to overgas and burst the bottles! 

9. Overgassing is avoided by fully drying out the beer by fermenting all the sugar and measuring a little to put back in to gas it up. This gives complete control.

10. The first bottle with the yeasty gunk can then be used to start making more beer. Repeat the process hygienically and you should get several generations of beer out of this recipe.

The beauty of this is that no fermenters or siphons are needed, no special boilers and mash tuns or any of the usual clobber than can make investing in homebrew pretty pricey.

It will definitely make you a tasty exotic beer finishing off at about six per cent alcohol by volume (most beers are less than five) – but without duty and without the minimum alcohol unit price levy.

Illegitimi non carborundum!

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