During prohibition, which shuttered Milwaukee's large beer-brewing industry, it was illegal to manufacture, sell or transport alcohol.  Homebrewing, as common for many people of the time as baking bread, was not legal but it proved difficult to ban. During that time, some of the large breweries made malt syrup, hops and other products that could be used for homebrewing. 

Barley malt, hops, water and yeast are all the ingredients necessary to produce beer and none of those were ever themselves illegal. A convenient can from the time period, pictured above, has a syrupy malt already "lightly hopped". Similar extract kits are still sold today by stores such as Northern Brewer Milwaukee. Today's homebrewer can legally produce for personal consumption 100 gals of beer per year per adult up to 200 gals per household. 

Local Milwaukeean Craig Kuehl shared a few thoughts on his hobby with us, "On the surface, brewing beer isn’t all that difficult.  However, it can become a significant undertaking depending on how interested you are in brewing the best beer you can.  That’s one of things I love about brewing beer.  The beer you brew can always be better, and it’s a science in figuring out how to get there."
Craig has made the change from extract brewing to all-grain brewing, which is very similar to how MillerCoors makes beer but on a much smaller scale. "Brewing all-grain requires you, the brewer, to convert the starches in the grain to sugars that are readily usable by yeast. My brew day used to take 2-3 hours….now it takes 7-8," Kuehl relates.

To greatly reduce the time and effort for homebrewers, Lakefront Brewery had a giveaway event in July of 2010. Sponsored by Northern Brewer and the American Homebrewers Association, they distributed over a thousand gallons of wort, the grain mash which requires just yeast to finish the fermentation process to beer.

Other Milwaukee breweries also support the homebrewers. Craig recently entered one of his beers in the Midwest Homebrew Competition, organized by the Beer Barons of Milwaukee, "One of the sponsors, The Milwaukee Brewing Company, has been choosing a recipe from one of the categories each year to scale up and brew on their commercial system and sell. I was honored for my beer to have been chosen. I’ve been told that is to be brewed later this Summer for release in Fall."

May 4th is National Homebrewers Day! For those who might want to try to replicate Craig's recipe, he was kind enough to provide it.
Craig Kuehl's Southern English Brown Ale
Recipe for 6 gallons

7 pounds Maris Otter pale malt
1 pound amber malt
1 pound 80L crystal malt
½ pound 120L crystal malt
¼ pound Carafa II malt

1.25 oz Fuggles (4.8% alpha acid) – 60 minute boil

Wyeast 1968: London ESB

Mash at 154 degrees for 60 minutes.  Boil for 1 hour.  Ferment at 68 degrees for 2 weeks and then rack to secondary fermenter.  Age for an additional week and then bottle with ¾ cup corn sugar.

Original Gravity: 1.053
Finish Gravity: 1.019
International Bittering Units: 19  

By Joel Willems,
Curator, Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear


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