Simple (and cheap) beer made with real hops

Hops growing on my allotmentThe beauty of this beer is that you can forage or grow one of the key ingredients of it, namely the hops. If you look to your right you will see  my hop plants happily growing on my allotment. They are very easy to grow needing just a cutting and wire or trellis to climb up. They grow wild in England, especially in the south.

I would call this beer an intermediate as far a level is skill needed but really it is at the very bottom end of the intermediate level and really I would suggest that anyone who can make beer from a kit can make this beer.

To dry the hops simply cut a vine in late summer/early autumn when the hops still have some colour and hang the whole thing up indoors. I suggest the bedroom as the hops are known to have a sedative effect and will aid sleep.


  • 1kg (2lb) of Malt Extract
  • 55g dried hops (2oz)
  • 750g (1.5 lb) Sugar (brewing sugar preferably, otherwise granulated)
  • 20g (1oz) Ale yeast
  • 13 litres (3 gallons) of water

Other Equipment needed

  • Massive Saucepan/cauldron or two big pans
  • Muslin cloth or Jelly bag
  • Fermentation bin (at least 13 litres)
  • Big plastic spoon
  • Empty Beer bottles and caps.
  • Syphoning tube
  • Optional – Hydrometer and thermometer


Get a really big pan/cauldron or if you don have that then two pretty big saucepans will do. Bring 7 litres of water to the boil then throw in the hops and keep boiling for 25-30 mins. The water should change colour and should taste bitter.

Steralise the fermentation bin, rinse and pour in the malt extract and Sugar.

Strain the hop liquid through the jelly bag. The hops should then be added to the compost heap as they are highly beneficial. Stir the wort to ensure that the sugar is all dissolved.

Pour over 6 liters of cold water and ensuring the temperature is below about 18c or 65f sprinkle on your yeast. The gravity (if using a hydrometer) should be roughly 1030.

Now put the top on the bin and seal it for a week or until fermenation stops.

Place a level teaspoon of sugar into each bottle and syphon the liquid into the bottles ensuring that you don’t syphon in any of the sediment.

Leave the bottles for 10 days then they are ready to drink.

The beer should be about 4.5% and the cost will vary depening on ingredients. It make approx 25 pints and my ingredients were £5 as they were all the best, a cost of  about 20p a pint for a locally brewed organic beer you can’t buy cheaper than that.

2 Comments on Simple (and cheap) beer made with real hops

  1. We have 5 daughters and their men all like beerand or ale. Now as I’m sure you can appreciate, this can be expensive!

    We thought we’d have a crack at making a VERY SIMPLE beer or an ale maybe, but as a lot of our storage space is taken up with demi-johns [full ones and they’re not ready to be moved!] we thought a beer barrel for storage rather than bottles…may even be safer! Only…you didn’t give any destructions for a barrel…any reason? Are bottles the easy option?


  2. Its just that I made it in bottles that was all. Of course a barrel is going to be easier if you are going to drink it all rather quickly. I tend to brew a barrel for a party and bottles for my own personal use. Once air gets into a barrel it can be difficult to keep it fresh.

    Some argue that ale is much better from a barrel and only lager should be bottled. I think its a question of how it will be used.

    When I make a barrel I tend to prime it with a could of tablespoons of sugar or if I want a different taste about half a jar of honey.

    Here is a recipe to make 100 pints of yarrow ale that might help you out!

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