Miss Hartley’s Beer Recipe

If you are unfamiliar with Miss Hartley’s books, and you like reading about the grain and texture of English life, then you can do no better than to track her down. ‘Water in England’ is an astounding volume. When I was nobbut a child I used to take it out of Newhaven library for week after week; it is scandalous that it is out of print. This recipe is from ‘Food in England’, which is the only one of her books which is still in print.

A simple beer recipe for beginners.


1 peck of malt

2 ounces of hops

1 teacupful of brewer’s yeast

6 gallons of water

Boil 3 gallons of water, and when just off the boil, pour it onto the malt, which you have placed in a raised up tub, which should have a tap at the bottom. Stir the malt and water till it is all a wet mash and, covering the tub to keep in the heat, stand it in a warm place for three days. Then drain off this water into another tub. Cover the malt with another 3 gallons of water, again stirring well, and leave for a further day, before drawing off and mixing with the first run. Now boil these 6 gallons with the hops for half an hour, while you clean out the malting tub. Strain the liquid back into the clean tub, and as soon as the brew is just warm to your hand, crumble the yeast into it and leave it alone to work. If it is very lively, you may wish to skim it daily; if it seems sluggish, a small sprinkling of sugar may liven it up (Miss Hartley points out that only experience can advise which is best). After three or four days, the working should almost have ceased, and the beer should be run off into a cask. Leave the bung out for a day; then bung it up and let it stand level for 6 months. (Miss Hartley says till ‘after the first frost’, which assumes that you’re making it in May/June, I guess)

It will then be ready to drink.

Let us know how you get on!

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