Then a rumbling came from the bung!

Introduction to Extract Brewing

It is the purpose of this class and handout to produce a beer that is conjecturally period. It is not intended as a thorough guide to brewing or as an introduction to the subject. For this information please look at the references cited below. The intention of this document is to provide a brewer with some experience the opportunity to start brewing with malt extract and hops with minimal equipment outlay, as most of what is needed can be found in a well equipped kitchen. I have chosen the historical recipe from Richard Arnold as it is the earliest form of a beer recipe that is able be translated for the modern brewer (Wheeler; 1993, 172) and as such is a good place for the budding Historical Re-enactor Brewer to start experimenting.

The documentary evidence:

To make 60 barrels [164L] of single beer, use 10 [127kg] quarters of malt,

2[25kg] quarters of wheat, and 2 quarters [25kg] of oats, with 40 pounds [1.8kg] of hops.

Richard Arnold, Customs of London, 1503


I have worked out that if this beer was to be made in this scale it would have a starting gravity of between 1.045 and 1.050. The recipe is a simply a ratio of 5:1:1 being Barley Malt: Wheat: Oats so I have scaled it down to a 22.5L batch and have used modern malt extracts in replace of grain so as to make it more accessible to the beginning brewer.


Volume – 22.5L in the fermenter & 3l left in the kettle.

OG – 1.048

FG – 1.015

ABV – 4.4%

BU – 25


  • Light Dry Malt Extract – 2kg
  • Dry Wheat Malt Extract – 0.75kg
  • Oat Extract – 0.4kg
  • Goldings Hops at an α 3.6% – 80g
  • Muntons Gold brewing yeast, or some other real ale yeast.
  • Water to 22.5L


This list is not exhaustive; it is simply what is needed in addition to the usual fermentation and packaging equipment.

  • A 10L pot (the bigger the better)
  • A large stirring spoon
  • A measuring jug
  • A spray bottle full of water
  • Some scales and a thermometer are handy


  1. Take 1 kg of the light malt and mix it with cold water to a volume of 8 litres in the pot.
  2. Bring this sweet wort to the boil. (Pay attention! As the wort is about to start boiling it will foam and there is a chance of boil over. To prevent this you can turn down the heat and lightly spray water on the foam.)
  3.  Once the wort is at the boil add the hops and turn the heat down to a simmer for 90 minutes.
  4. At the end of the boil place the pot in the laundry sink and run cold water around it until it is cool (20 degrees Celsius). A supply of ice will speed up this process.
  5.  As the wort is cooling, clean and sanitise the fermenting equipment.
  6.  Put 5 L of cold water in the fermenter and mix in the remaining malt extract. Add the cooled, bittered wort to the fermenter carefully as not to get any of the hops or hot/cold break into the fermenter. A siphon can be helpful with this.
  7.  Pitch the yeast.
  8.  Let it ferment for five days.
  9.  On the fifth day take a hydrometer reading. Then take one 24 hours later. If the two reading are the same you can bottle. If the readings are different leave for a further 24 hours and repeat the process.
  10.  Bottle and let it age for at least six weeks. This beer will benefit with longer ageing,(6 months to a year).


This brief primer on extract brewing will go a long way to enhancing the medieval brewing experience. One way to bring it closer to a historical beer would be to do a secondary fermentation on oak chips with a Brettanomyces culture. These should be available from any well stocked home brew shop.

Please do not hesitate to contact me via email or at an SCA event. I am always interested in trying other people’s brewing and happy am to share my own.

Rurik farserkr


Arnold, Richard. Customs of London, 1503. (Accessed on 30/09/2010)

Palmer, John. How to Brew, 2006. Brewers Publications Colorado.

Wheeler, Graham. Home Brewing; The CAMRA Guide. 1993, CAMRA, St Albans.


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