Sample Brewing Handbook
Chapter 2 - How to make different styles

Ivy Border


Beer is the old reliable. It is ready quick, usually within a month or so, and lots of people drink beer. I honestly find it more difficult than meads or ciders, but it is more forgiving and gives quick results for those wanting something soon. You rack it two or three times two weeks apart and then put it in the bottle. I recommend a final racking right before bottling onto the bottling sugar dissolved in a cup of water.

There are three basic methods of making beer: all-extract, partial grain, and all-grain. These are listed in order of difficulty as well as amount of time needed to start it. We typically make partial grain beers since they give the best flavor for the amount of time/effort expended. These typically take about 2 hours of prep instead of the 4-7 hours for an all-grain. All-grains have the additional headaches of precision temperature ranges needing to be maintained for proper sugar extraction.

Here is an example ESB recipe:

1 lb British Crystal Malt (Grain)
7 lbs Alexanders Pale Malt Extract
8 oz. Malto-Dextrin
1 oz Nugget Hops (Bittering)
1 oz Kent Golding Hops (Aromatic)
cup corn sugar (bottling)
Windsor Ale Yeast

Steep the grains in 1 gallon of water and bring it to 180F then remove the grains. Add extract, sugar and Nugget Hops to the wort and boil for 1 hour. 5 minutes before the end of the boil, add the Kent Golding Hops. Cool it to ~80 and pour into fermenter. (I typically leave the hop sludge behind to help clear quicker and improve flavor.) Top to 5 gallons and add rehydrated yeast. People recommend using a wort chiller to drop the temperature quickly to avoid contamination, but I've had good luck just leaving it covered well overnight.


Mead is basically a honey wine. There are many modern forms of mead which include different additives to the fermentation. The common definitions/types are:

Mead - Honey, water and yeast
Melomel - Mead with fruit
Cyser - Mead with apple and/or pears
Pyment - Mead with grape
Morat - Mead with mulberries
Metheglin - Mead with spices
Rhodamel - Mead with flowers
Rhizamel - Mead with vegetables
Braggot - Mead with malt/beer

During period there was less of a difference than there is today. They seemed to use the terms mead and metheglin interchangably. As well, although what we make is technically a metheglin, it is easier to call it a mead since most people know what that is.

The mead recipe that we use is a slightly modified Damaris of Greenhill recipe, which I believe originally came from Lord Alexander of the Many Minds. This is a good base recipe that can be modified to do most of the varieties easily. In my opinion, the most important modification that we made is to stop using granulated sugar and use another 4-8 lbs. of honey based on availability. The problem with using granulated sugar in meads and wines is that, despite a wonderful flavor, it can impart a winey, cidery or vinegary odor, which is undesirable to many people. A minor modification to the recipe is not bringing the mead to a full boil, but only to a simmer. This will still allow you to remove the proteins (sudsy stuff) without "damaging" the honey flavor while lessening the chance of making rock candy. Other brewers have stated that you don't need to remove the proteins at all. From period recipes, it's clear that honey was simmered/boiled or not without apparent rhyme nor reason.

Our typical recipe is as follows:

16-18 lbs of honey
8 small lemons
1 very large orange
1 cups orange juice
4 earl grey tea bags
5 star anise
3 3" cinnamon sticks
champagne or ale yeast

To make it, bring one gallon of water to a boil and add honey. Bring to a simmer, stirring to keep from scorching, and skim the foam off. Squeeze the juice from the lemons and orange, place the rinds in a cheese cloth bag with the tea and spices. Remove from heat and place the cheese cloth bag in to steep. Let cool to ~80 and remove seasonings. Pour into a 5 gallon carboy and top to 5 gallons. Pitch the yeast. (Remember to rehydrate it if it is dry yeast.)

Note: The lemons, oranges, tea, etc, give the necessary nutrients to the mead without having to use chemical additives.


To move on, cider is one of the easiest drinks to ferment with very simple ingredients. The simplest recipe I use is simply 5 gallons of TreeTop juice with 2 lbs. of sugar. Time to completion varies upon many things, including your patience. The great thing is this same method can be done with about any juice to make a cider or wine type beverages.

One of my favorite batches of cider is to use:

15 48 oz apple juice concentrates
1 tsp orange peel
2 lbs of granulated sugar
3 3" cinnamon sticks
1 lb of brown sugar (light or dark)
1 cup of maple syrup
Whitbread Ale yeast

To make it you bring 1 gallon of water to a boil then add the concentrate and sugars then bring it back to a boil. Make sure to stir intermittently while adding the ingredients and until it boils to keep from scorching to the bottom of the pot. Remove from heat and add the spices. Allow this to cool covered for at least 2 hours or, preferably, overnight. Place into a 5 gallon carboy and top to 5 gallons with water. Pitch the yeast and add an airlock.

Some Hyppocras Recipes

Hypocras, and its many spelling variations, is a spiced wine that is named for Hippocrates. There are typically three kinds, although we have only tried two of them. Those that call for white wine and spices, red wine and spices, and wine and spices with milk/cream. The nice thing about hypocras is that they require no special equipment and is ready in a matter of days, if not immediately.

Both of these recipes were taken from Cindy Renfrow's A Sip Through Time, which is a collection of historical recipes for brewing. The first one was originally taken from Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery and is dated to between 1550 and 1625. The second is from The Good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchin and is dated to 1594.

Hyppocras #259

Original recipe

Take 3 quarts of sweet wine & one quart of swee[t] sack, 2 pound of lofe sugar, 2 ounces of cinnamon, halfe an ouce of ginger, halfe an ounce of corriander seeds, 4 numeggs, beat yr sugar ve[ry] well, but ye others spices must be onely crusht. yn put [in] ye other halfe of ye sugar & a pinte of new milke. stir them [well] together, yn put them in a bagg yt is small at one end, [&] put a whalebone on ye top yt may hang even. when it [is thoreough (?)], bottle it close. it will keep a quarter of a ye[ar].

Note: The whalebone serves to hold open the mouth of the hypocras bag. The spices are put into the bag (as we put coffee into a drip coffee pot), and the sweetened wine is poured through the spices to gather their flavor. Items in brackets were reconstructed by the author.

Our recipe

1 gallon of wine
oz ginger root
1 pint whole milk (Promiseland)
oz coriander seeds
2 lbs granulated sugar
2 oz cinnamon sticks
4 whole nutmegs

Break the cinnamon into small pieces. Grate the ginger. Break the coriander and nutmeg. Mixed the wine and spice and 1 pound of sugar. Mix the milk and the other 1 pound of sugar. Mix it all together and let sit for 24 hours and then filter.

White Ipocras

Original recipe

Take a gallon of wine, an ounce of Synamon, two ounces of Ginger, one pound of Sugar, twentie Cloves bruised, and twentie cornes of pepper big beaten, let all of these soake together one night, and then let it run through a bag, and it will be good Ipocras.

Our recipe

1 gallon of wine
1 oz cinnamon sticks
1 lb of sugar
2 oz ginger root
20 whole cloves
20 peppercorns

Peel and slice ginger, bruise cloves and crush peppercorns. Combine all ingredients stirring well. Let sit for 24 hours and filter.

All and all, I was very pleased with both of these recipes. I had specifically picked Hyppocras #259 due to the fact that I thought milk was an odd ingredient, but it was fairly common throughout the period recipes. To be honest, I thought Hyppocras #259 was a lot better than the White Ipocras.

Some Cordials

Cordials in their basic form are flavored distilled alcohol. Since not everyone can distill (not to mention that it's illegal without a license in the US), the recipes we use call for store bought alcohol. As with hypocras, cordials require no special equipment and they are ready in a matter of days, if not immediately.

These are all from Cordials from Your Kitchen by Pattie Vargas & Rich Gulling. We don't claim they are period, just that we thought they would be good.

Liqueur of Love (or maybe Love Potion #9)

1 tablespoon coriander seed
~2 cups water, divided
1 teaspoon cardamom seed
1 cup honey
1 star anise flower
2 tablespoons dried hibiscus flowers
6 whole cloves
3 teaspoons orange zest
6 rose hips
1 cup 100-proof vodka
cup brandy

Coarsely grind coriander, cardamom, star anise, cloves and rose hips in coffee grinder or food processor. (We just used a mortar & pestle.) Bring 1 cup water and honey to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. Add spice mixture and boil for 4 minutes more. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Place hibiscus flowers in bowl. Use a fine-mesh strainer to strain syrup into bowl. Let stand for 10 minutes, then strain into a clean 1-quart container. Add orange zest, vodka, and brandy. Top off with remaining water. Cover and let stand in a cool, dark place for 1 month. Use a coarse sieve or colander to strain out orange zest. Discard.

Rack or filter liqueur into final container and age for 1 month before serving.

Rico's South of the Border Coffee Liqueur

2 cups water, divided
1 1/2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
6 tbsp fresh ground dark-roast coffee
3 tbsp chocolate syrup
2 cups white sugar
2 cups 80-proof syrup
1 cups light brown sugar
1 cup brandy

Combine 1 cups water and coffee to make a very strong brew. Set aside. Make a simple syrup by bringing remaining 1 cup of water, white sugar, and brown sugar to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. When clear, remove from heat and let stand until just warm. Add vanilla, chocolate syrup, and coffee. Combine vodka and brandy in clean 2-quart container. Add coffee mixture. Cover and let stand in a cool, dark place for at least 1 month before serving.

You may find some sediment at the bottom of the container. If you prefer a clearer liqueur, rack or filter into a clean container.

Coconut Cream

1 cup sugar
2 tsp imitation coconut extract
1 cup water
1 can (14 oz) coconut milk
1 cup 100-proof vodka

Make a simple syrup by bringing sugar and water to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. When clear, remove from heat and let stand until just warm. Combine syrup, coconut milk, and coconut extract in a sterile 1 quart container. Mix thoroughly. Add vodka, cover, and stir or shake until blended. Store in refrigerator for up to 1 month.

We waited a week before starting to drink it. It's great!! Btw, yes, it means it needs to be drank within a month.

Ivy Border