Boat brew!

So to really be sustainable you must be able to make your own….BEER!


It all started with friends we met in Grenada. I met them on what was to be a quick dinghy trip. With my dog Beau in tow, I went to pick up some vegetables at De Big Fish (a local eatery and hang out) in Prickly bay located by Spice Island Marine. A quick trip ended up to be a night I will never forget. Sitting at the bar waiting for a local vendor to come with my order of vegetables, this interesting couple sat next to me. Warm smiles generated a positive vibe. That instantly turned into a very intriguing conversation. With similar outlooks on life, it was like an instant connection. David and Chrissy had just finished their circumnavigation around the world, very interesting indeed. We ended up chatting but mostly laughing over some rum punches. Time just seemed to go by in a flash. Sunset turned into darkness. A dinghy ride back to pick up my captain at the boat. We then headed over to their boat for a spur-of-the-moment gathering. That night under a half moon we had the opportunity to try “The Shady Brew”, which was out of this world good! And that night they became very good friends of ours. Laughter and good vibes has a way of doing magical things. Envying their ability to make brew on their boat, thus began our passion to make beer ourselves.

At the time not having access to readily available supplies  it was something that had always been in the back of our minds of must do’s. Sailing back from Grenada we could have counted numerous times how sweet it would have been if we had a nice cold fresh brew in our hands while anchored in a remote location. Now back in the states and docked, access to supplies, it was time to test and experiment! So here you go. This is how we brew on our sailboat!


Beer Making kit

First there are two different ways to brew beer. An easy way (Malt) and a more technical and precise way (Grains). Another way to look at it is Malt is like a “concentrate” and Grains are extracting the good schtuff yourself, fresh! We went the fresh-technical route.

To start, we bought a brew making kit by the Brooklyn Brew Shop. With many varieties to choose from we chose the Chestnut Brown ale… yum. The 1 gallon kit is a great start, and also well suited for a boat with limited storage space and confined cooking areas. The kit has most of the supplies, but you will also need bottles, caps, bottle capper, fine mesh strainer, & 2 pots. The bottles… we used recycled bottles which my husband Ryan used as an excuse to drink more beer “It’s for our brew!”  I heard this verse many times as he chugged down a bottle with a big smile. With lots of empty bottles to spare, the rest of our supplies we bought from a local brew shop. Caps and a bottle capper were all we really needed. The brew shop Daddy Brews, located in Miami is a down to earth family owned gem. You can custom make your grains, and the owner has the mix down to a science. They also offer lessons, the people are super nice and you can sit there and chat over free brewed beer! Pretty Sweet! A great place to visit if you’re in the area.

So you have your kit and supplies now comes the Brewing.  The fun part. Remember sanitize, sanitize, SANITIZE EVERYTHING!!!

Step 1. – THE MASH

1 quart of water per pound of grains (in this case 4 quarts). You bring a pot of water to 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71 Celsius)

Mashing in. As you slowly poor your grains into the water the temp will fall to around 153 degrees Fahrenheit (68 Celsius). This process takes about 1 hour and we had to be sure to keep the mash temperature between 144-152 Fahrenheit (63-68 Celsius) which had us stirring and patiently taking care of it like a baby. It should start to look like oatmeal, and yes we did try it as it was so tempting. Not bad, but sure didn’t taste like oatmeal!

Mash out. Raise temperature to 170 Fahrenheit (77 Celsius) and keep stirring. Once you reach this temperature proceed immediately to step 2.

Step 2. – THE SPARGE

Over a sanitized pot with a fine mesh strainer. Pour the liquid and grain mix through a strainer and into the pot slowly, thoroughly run the liquid over the grains that are collecting in the strainer.  In a separate pot have 1 gallon of water heated to 170 degrees Fahrenheit (77 Celsius) ready to pour over the grains (now you are “Sparging”). Pour all the liquid over the grain until the water is gone. The liquid you have collected is now called “Wort”. You can recycle the Wort through the grains one more time if you really want to get all the good sugars out.

Step 3. – THE BOIL

Bring the “Wort” to a very low boil. Start a timer for 1 hour. Add bittering hops in the beginning (hops can be added in different stages of the boil depending on the type of bitterness and flavor you want to achieve and dependent on the type of beer). Add aroma hops towards the end, we added some roasted New Mexican Pinion Nuts at this point. Keep at a gentle boil with a lower heat. During the boil and/or just before the end of the boil is where you can add your own unique flavors at will, nuts, honey, fruits, etc.



Put the boil pot into a bucket or galley sink full of ice or ice packs in water. And let the Wort temperature come down to under 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 Celsius).

Step 5.

Pour the Wort into your fermenting container (glass carboy or small bucket /w lid) through a strainer to catch remaining hops and other sediment, this also helps to aerate your Wort. If it’s less than 1 gallon you can add water until it reaches the full amount.

Step 6. – PITCHING

Add yeast. And shake your booty… I mean fermenter. Screw on sanitized “cap stopper”. Insert sanitized “blow off tube”. The end of tube should be in a bowl of sanitizer. Store in a dark place. Secure accordingly if you will be sailing, and most likely heeling.


Step 7. You should see good activity in your fermenter noticeably by a nice thick foamy head forming called Kraussen, if you’re not seeing this add more fresh yeast and shake it up to aerate some more. Replace “blow off tube” with “air lock”. WAIT 2 WEEKS…. it’s hard but it can be done


Here you will need your racking cane, tubing, tubing clamp. Sanitize everything.

Step 8. Heat a small amount of water with honey or sugar, the amounts will be dependent on the type of conditioning sugars used. We used a special “Native forest honey” from this amazing gourmet store by our marina. These sugars are what create the carbonation in your beer!


Use what is called a racking cane attached to a long tube (sanitize first) to siphon your beer from the fermenter into a SANITIZED pot (this pot will be used to mix in your conditioning sugars in the next step). Now put your racking cane in the fermenter (just above yeast sediment) and other end of the tube into the pot and begin siphoning to catch all the good stuff.  Make sure not to catch any of the yeast at the bottom of the jug this is called the Trub and is nothing but Trub-le (and doesn’t taste good)!!!! Fill pot with beer and be happy.

Step 10.

At this point you can have a little taste to get an idea of your end product but be extremely careful not to introduce any bacteria to your beer as this can affect your bottle conditioning! Now mix in your conditioning sugar in the pot with your beer and get ready to siphon beer from the pot into SANITIZED bottles using your raking cane and tubing, a clamp at the end of the tube is extremely helpful for this process. Cap with capper. Make sure everything is sanitized including your hands! We got about 9 bottles out of ours, due to our temptation to taste. Now the hard part, waiting….

WAIT 2-3 WEEKS – During this time you should keep yourself busy by sailing. As this is the best way to pass time. Now that you have reached your sailing destination and it is time to enjoy the satisfaction of drinking your awesome boat brew. Kick up those feet. Open that bottle of beer. And enjoy the sunset.




If you would like to do the Malt just start from step 3 and buy the pre-made stuff. Simple. The Boat Brew, our first batch was called “The New Mexican” (due to the Pinon nuts from New Mexico and native honey we used). Have fun making and naming your beer. And most of all enjoy the rewards of drinking your boat brew! To some it might seem like a lot of work to get some beer…. but when you’re talking fresh brewed beer, remote destinations, and being able to make it yourself, the rewards are endless.

*To view the printed publication in Blue Water Sailing magazine click here {!}

When the going gets tough, the tough get brewing!!!!

Boat brewers


  1. Sam March 12, 2014 at 10:27 am

    Nice! Got to try this on my boat, Thanks!

  2. Smithb277 June 30, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    Great article!

  3. Eric April 12, 2015 at 4:55 am

    WOW! Is beer brewing insane on a boat, or what? Check out moonshine rum from SV Delos. Oops, can’t right click anything on your site. What is up with that? S\V Delos on Youtube, video 25.

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