Green’s Dictionary of Slang

brew n.

1. a meal.

[UK]Kipling ‘Slaves of the Lamp’ Pt I in Complete Stalky & Co. (1987) 58: He came back [...] to find McTurk, Stalky [...] enjoying an unlimited ‘brew’ — coffee, cocoa, buns, new bread hot and steaming, sardine, sausage, ham-and-tongue paste, pilchards, three jams, and at least as many pounds of Devonshire cream.
[UK]Kipling ‘Satisfaction of a Gentleman’ in Complete Stalky & Co. (1987) 247: Pussy and Tertius said they would be happy to attend the brew.

2. a pot or drink of tea; thus rush a brew v., to make a pot of tea.

[UK]Portsmouth Eve. News 6 Oct. 7/6: The properties are looked upon as the strong tea of the brew.
[UK]Portsmouth Eve. News 2 July 2/5: Forty Soldiers Poisoned [...] Only the men who had drunk of a particular brew of tea were affected.
[US]T.A. Dorgan ‘Silk Hat Harry’ in El Paso Herald (TX) 14 July 15: Hey Bunk drop that brew a minute and listen.
[Can]R. Service ‘A Pot of Tea’ in Rhymes of a Red Cross Man 127: Tonight, by Fritz’s camp-fire, won’t I ’ave a gorgeous brew / (For fightin’ mustn’t interfere with Tea).
[UK]N&Q 12 Ser. IX 466: Rush a Brew. Make tea.
[UK]M. Marshall Tramp-Royal on the Toby 6: I sip my brew and munch my tommy.
[UK]K.B. Poole ‘The Gift’ in Lehmann Penguin New Writing No. 33 157: Better ’ave another brew.
[Aus]D. Niland Shiralee 122: Feel like a mug of brew?
[UK]C. Lee diary 13 Aug. in Eight Bells & Top Masts (2001) 8: The Second Mate’s Scotch and he came down for a brew.
[NZ]R. Helmer Stag Party 80: He poured the tea into the mugs [...] ‘Who’s for a brew?’.
[UK]‘P.B. Yuill’ Hazell and the Three-card Trick (1977) 31: Do you like Chinese tea? I’ve just put a brew in motion.
[UK]A. Bleasdale ‘Jobs for the Boys’ Boys from the Blackstuff (1985) [TV script] 45: Get a brew on Loggo, will you.
[Aus]C. Bowles G’DAY 44: It is smoke-oh and they are sitting down having a brew.
[Aus]Tupper & Wortley Aus. Prison Sl. Gloss. [Internet] Brew. 2. A drink of tea or coffee.
[UK]J. Cameron Vinnie Got Blown Away 90: Say what you like about the women welfare, they definitely made a better brew.
[UK]N. Barlay Crumple Zone 73: Could murder a brew [...] lovely cup tea.
[UK] (ref. to 1971) F. Dennis ‘Old Bailey’ Homeless in my Heart 184: Where a squealer finds ground glass / Has sweetened his morning brew.
[UK]V. McDermid Insidious Intent (2018) 29: ‘Morning, skipper [...] shall I make us all a brew?’.

3. (US) any form of home-made concoction.

J. London ‘The Hyperborean Brew’ in Faith of man and Other Stories [Internet] In Tummasook’s copper kettle I mixed three quarts of wheat flour with five of molasses, and to this I added of water twenty quarts [...] When the brew was strong enough [...] I filled the kerosene can with it.

4. (US, also brewster) beer, ale, esp. in the UK Carlsberg Special Brew, poss. the strongest canned beer on sale in the UK.

[US]Kansas Agitator (Garnett, KS) 3 Jan. 1/1: As a prohibitionist [he] very properly declined [...] the invitation to feast at the ‘brew factory’ as it was called on the invitation.
[US]Omaha Dly Bee (NE) 23 Mar. 42/1: [advert] The Perfect Brew. Blue Ribbon Bottled Beer.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 4 Feb. 4/8: A beery ballad — [...] For we like a man like you who is partial to his brew.
[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 20: I never hung around saloons hiding the brew.
[US]H.C. Witwer Smile A Minute 184: On account of him comin’ back we can’t get no brew.
[US]G.H. Mullin Adventures of a Scholar Tramp 39: With the second scoop, I had gulped all the vile brew I could stomach.
[US]G. Milburn ‘The Boomer Shack’ in Hobo’s Hornbook 64: They meant, without fear Pilsner beer / Was the brew on tap that day.
[UK]J.G. Brandon Gang War 115: Sipping at the damnable brew for which he had been charged sixpence.
[US]J. Jones From Here to Eternity (1998) 186: I was just thinkin about goin over to Choy’s and lappin up some brew [...] You think you can buy me off with beer? Come up here and needle me all afternoon and then buy me a couple of brews and make it all all right.
[US]M. Rumaker Exit 3 and Other Stories 38: Christ, that’s good brew.
[UK]L. Kwesi Johnson ‘Five Nights of Bleeding’ in Voices of the Living Dead (1983) 31: It was a night named Friday / when everyone was high on brew.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Nov. 2: brewster – beer.
[US]D. Woodrell Muscle for the Wing 156: He [...] belted back some brew.
[US](con. 1985–90) P. Bourjois In Search of Respect 194: We be smoking cheeba; drinking brew; hanging out on the Deuce.
[UK](con. 1979–80) A. Wheatle Brixton Rock (2004) 21: Give me a brew [i.e. Special Brew], Floyd.
[UK]N. Cohn Yes We Have No 247: ‘A brew will see me right’ [...] and a can of McEwan’s is handed to him.
[US] in W. Shaw Westsiders 170: I’m sleepin’ through — down the brew, this weed has got me fadin’.
[US]G. Pelecanos Night Gardener 210: Gaskins went to the kitchen to find that brew.
[UK]Intelligent Life Spring 142/1: Fancy a brew?
[US]F. Bill ‘Coon Hunter’s Noir’ in Crimes in Southern Indiana [ebook] They hunt and toss back brews.

5. (US) a pot or cup of coffee.

Burroughs Oakdale Affair 74: Oh, my heart it is just achin’ / For a little bite of bacon, / A hunk of bread, a little mug of brew.
[US]G. Milburn ‘Hungry Man’s Canyon’ in Hobo’s Hornbook 218: Oh, my belly is just achin’ / For a couple of strips of bacon, / A hunk of punk and a little pot of brew.
[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day by Day 8 June [synd. col.] Harry Leon Wilson quit drinking coffee for two years, then one morning downed in a row six cups of hefty brew and did he feel elegant.
[US](con. 1967) E. Spencer Welcome to Vietnam (1989) 71: I take a cup of brew and go sit on top of my bunker.
see sense 2.

6. home-made wine.

[UK]P. Terson Night to Make the Angels Weep (1967) I x: You’ll drink in this house when you taste my Aunt Ada’s plum, mate. She’s the tops round here at brew, I’m telling you.

7. (Can./US/N.Z. prison, also homebrew) illicitly brewed alcohol.

[NZ]B. Crump ‘One of Us’ in Best of Barry Crump (1974) 134: He [...] poured him a dirty glass of home-brew.
[US]Ed Bullins ‘Dandy’ in King Black Short Story Anthol. (1972) 84: Them sisters of mine have got some home brew ready.
[US]E. Bunker Animal Factory 76: Brother T is holding some weights and there’s some brew in the equipment room.
[NZ]G. Newbold Big Huey 100: I drank more brews there [i.e. in Paremoremo prison] than anywhere else in my sentence. Home-brews are usually made out of a mixture of yeast, sugar and water, with anything fermentable used as a base. Raisins, prunes, fresh fruit, rice, potatoes, and tealeaves are all popular.
[Aus]Tupper & Wortley Aus. Prison Sl. Gloss. [Internet] Brew. 1. Illegal prison-made alcoholic beverage. Some recipes include (a) A fermented mixture of Coca Cola and vegemite (a yeast source), (b) Orange juice, vegemite, sugar and black tea, (c) bootpolish filtered through a sieve (e.g. bread) to isolate alcohol. A variety of other concoctions utilise psychotropic properties of chemicals found in telephone cleaner, disinfectant, etc.
[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 70: Brew and Home Brew […] homemade alcoholic beverage. Also used to indicate legal, manufactured liquor that has been smuggled into the prison.
[US](con. 1975–6) E. Little Steel Toes 10: When’s the brew gonna be done cookin’?
[US]A. Steinberg Running the Books 153: An orange opeel could be fermented into a nasty little batch of liquor, ‘homebrew’.

In derivatives

brewski (n.) (also brewsky) [-ski sfx]

(US campus) a can or drink of beer.

[US]Z-Link 30 Oct.–1 Nov. [Internet] Oxford Ale House [...] Caroline Kennedy’s fave, the House has brewskis from around the world.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Spring 2: brewsky – beer.
[US]D. Burke Street Talk 2 13: brewsky – beer [...] also brewski.
[UK]Guardian Rev. 1 Oct. 6: Hatched during a night of brewskis and cable porn.
[US]S. King Dreamcatcher 205: Pete Moore had to have his brewskis.

In compounds

brewhound (n.) [-hound sfx]

(US campus) a regular drunkard (but not an actual alcoholic).

[US]P. Munro Sl. U. 45: Many frat guys are brewhounds.
brew house (n.) [SE house; orig. SE brewhouse, a brewery]

(US black) a liquor store.

[[UK]M. Edgeworth Castle Rackrent (1832) 58: My master was pleased to take me aside with him in the brewhouse that same evening, to complain of my son].
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 187: The liquor store [...] has a number of vernacular names — [...] filling station, brew house, leeky store.

In phrases

brew up

see separate entries.

crack a brew (v.) [crack v.2 (2b)]

to open a beer.

[US]N.Y. Mag. 5 Nov. 55: Just crack a brew and unwind.
J. Littlefield Cool Deal 10: He cracked a brew and tried to lighten me up.
‘Shooting Hops’ at [Internet] Flip on some round ball, and every time any of the events listed below occur, take a drink. Kick back, crack a brew, and give your lips a workout.