Brew By The Bottle

Many brewing recipes give directions for making several gallons of beer or ale in a batch, but you can make a bottle in any plastic soda pop bottle or glass jar. This might also be of particular interest if you are making a brewed decoction with herbs or spices that are intended as a medicine or remedy for something and you only have a small bunch of the herbs you wish to brew with.

The principle, as with all brewing for quantities large and small is the same. If you have any herbs or flavorings you want to use, start by putting them in water, usually around a handful of plant material to a pint to a quart of water and let it steep overnight or for a day. You can start by boiling water, pouring it on the plant material and then putting that in a covered pot or jar to steep overnight, or you can put the plant material in a slow cooker, add the water, cover and let it slow cook overnight.

When you have your water steeped and flavored, add sugar and yeast or a yeast starter, cover with an airlock and keep in a warm place. After signs of fermentation begins, let it ferment from 3 - 7 days. If you want it to be as carbonated as commercial beer or soda pop, transfer it to plastic soda pop bottles and screw the cap on tightly. When the bottle is firm to the touch and cannot be squeezed, put it in the fridge and drink when it is cooled.

You can make a single bottle of ale whenever you have a little leftover tea, rice milk, fruit juice etc. or you can use the single bottle to try out a recipe, flavoring or idea for making a larger batch batch.

This recipe uses sugar syrup and malt extract but you can substitute other sugars depending upon the type of brew you want. 

1 pint of tea, herbal tea or other flavored liquid.
1 teaspoon of malt extract or 2 teaspoons of dry malt extract
2 tablespoons of sugar
2 tablespoons of yeast starter  (usually from a previous batch) or a  pinch of brewing yeast. 


Mix the tea with the sugars and pour into a plastic soda pop bottle.

Cover with an airlock and keep in a warm or room temperature place.
(An airlock can be a piece of plastic cut from a grocery bag secured on top of the bottle with a sturdy rubber band.)

Make a note of the time when signs of fermentation first appear (bubbles rising in liquid, froth forming on top) and then let it ferment for 3-6 days. See Adjusting Alcohol to decide how long to let it brew for the amount of alcohol desired.

After it has fermented for the number of days you want based on how strong you want it to be, if you left it to ferment for the full 6 days, or if it has gone flat and is no longer actively fermenting, add a teaspoon of sugar to the bottle.
Replace the airlock with a twist-on plastic cap and screw on tightly.

Check the bottle by squeezing it. When the bottle is firm and cannot be squeezed, the brew is carbonated.
This bottle can still be squeezed and is not ready to drink yet.

This bottle is not ready to drink.
Refrigerate and drink within a few days.

Wild Fermentation
by Sandor Katz. 
Truly Cultured Rejuvenating Taste, Health and Community With Naturally Fermented Foods
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