For over two thousand years beer has been produced in homes. One of the earliest known examples of a home-use recipe book is a sumarian tablet detailing the production and consumption of beer. It was customary in medieval England for feudal manors to produce all the beer for the lord and his subjects. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were both avid homebrewers (here is President Washington’s recipe for a “small beer”).

With the advent of Prohibition in 1920, homebrewing became both popular and illegal in the US. After Prohibition was repealed in 1933, homebrewing took a curious turn. The Constitutional amendment repealing Prohibition specifically re-allowed the production of wine at home, but failed to include beer in its wording. This oversight meant that homebrewing remained prohibited. This prohibited status caused homebrewing to be lumped with home distilling in the minds of the country’s citizens and policymakers. Getting quality ingredients and advice was nearly impossible. President Carter changed this in 1979 when he signed the Cranston Act which removed federal prohibitions on homebrewing. It was now up to the states. By 1981 most states passed bills re-legalizing homebrewing, and the homebrewing/microbrewery revolution was on! Homebrewers by the droves came out of the closet and started opening commercial microbrewery operations. This in turn increased consumer awareness to quality beer and awareness in homebrewing. The two have fed off each other ever since. In 1981 there were approximately 150 homebrewing hobby shops in America. By 1996 that number had grown to over 1000. There has since been a retrenchment and the current number of shops in America stands at about 400.

Today there are roughly 600,000 homebrewers in the United States, according to the American Homebrewers Association. With this kind of consumer-driven power, the quality of ingredients and advice for homebrewers has improved dramatically. Gone are the days when homebrewing involved the use of a 10 gallon ceramic crock, a can of Blue Ribbon malt extract (that may or may not have been produced with beer making in mind), and a package of Fleischmann’s bread yeast. Today’s homebrewers have access to scaled down versions of the same equipment craft breweries use, are able to purchase Coopers Malt Extracts, one of the only malt extracts made specifically for beer making, and have access to over 100 different strains of yeast developed for beer production. Today’s homebrewer expects their beer to come out as good as, if not better than, anything available at the grocery store. The range of styles that homebrewers will make range from Budweiser type light American lagers to high-alcohol, densely rich Barleywine-style beers. Most homebrewers produce British style ales that are both easy to make and diverse in flavor profiles. Recipes are typically produced in 5 gallon increments (approximately 48 12oz bottles).

Ready to get started? We recommend you start by visiting our “homebrewing basics” section. This will walk you through everything you need to know about making beer at home. Next, visit our recipe section. We have over thirty beer recipes, many of them award-winners produced by noted author and beer judge Mark Henry. Finally, you will want to use our retailer locator to find the shop nearest you that stocks high quality homebrewing products, including Coopers beer making malt extracts and yeast. Your local homebrewing shop is where you will find the expert advice guaranteed to make homebrewing both fun and successful. Homebrewing is fun and easy. The beers you make will greatly impress your family, friends and co-workers. Enjoy!

George Washington's Beer Recipe

To Make Small Beer

Take a large Siffer [Sifter] full of Bran Hops to your Taste. -- Boil these 3 hours then strain out 30 Gall[ons] into a cooler put in 3 Gall[ons] Molasses while the Beer is Scalding hot or rather draw the Melasses into the cooler & St[r]ain the Beer on it while boiling Hot. let this stand till it is little more than Blood warm then put in a quart of Yea[s]t if the Weather is very Cold cover it over with a Blank[et] & let it Work in the Cooler 24 hours then put it into the Cask -- leave the bung open till it is almost don[e] Working -- Bottle it that day Week it was Brewed.

"Many anthropologists believe that the willingness of early man to give up their “hunting and gathering” ways, some 10,000-15,000 years ago, and create stable farming communities was created by the need for a steady supply of grain for beermaking."
-Mark Henry
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