In the late 1960’s, I was a graduate student living in Berkeley and subsisting on the GI Bill and Linnea’s meager check from working at the Ski Hut. Making things seemed a good way to stretch our funds. I heard you could make your own beer, so I bought a large crock, some canned malt, a package of dry yeast, and a bottle capper. I don’t remember where I got the hops. Then I methodically collected a supply of used beer bottles. The directions were to cook the malt with water, pour it into the crock, add yeast, cover it with muslin and wait a few weeks before bottling. Stories abounded about the bottles of eager tasters exploding in closets. It all seemed simple enough.

I waited the full two weeks, bottled the brew, and waited another week for it to age. It didn’t taste very good. In fact if it hadn’t been for the alcohol it provided I wouldn’t have drunk it at all. It gave new meaning to the phrase, “struggling student.” I made a few batches after that but eventually gave it up. As I lifted each bottle to my lips I thought, are you really this desperate? Continue reading