How To Make Homemade Alcohol
Ethanol, most known under its common name alcohol, is a psychoactive recreational drug found in most alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine, but also often used as a solvent, particularly, however not only in the making of other chemical substances, including other recreational drugs, but also as fuel. Although ethanol is actually a type of alcohol, which is a certain organic compound being part of many different alcohols, ethanol is commonly termed alcohol, being the most prominently used substance of this group.
Alongside its commercial production, alcohol has been known for centuries as something that is also produced privately. As with many other things, commercial production, especially of beer by breweries, traces its roots to private production of and experimentation with alcohol.
Home Production of Alcohol
At the most basic, producing alcohol depends on yeast, which is what actually produces ethanol. Yeast has many types, and many of those can be used specifically in the making of alcoholic beverages, but they may be equally difficult to obtain or find in grocery yeast. The alternative is to use baker’s yeast.
Baker’s yeast is a common name for strains of yeast very commonly used in baking bread or other bakery products, converting the fermentable sugar in the dough into carbon dioxide and ethanol. In parallel, the same process is used in the production of alcohol, which makes baker’s yeast particularly suitable for this job, and has given it its other name of brewer’s yeast.
As implied previously, the second thing needed to make alcohol is sugar. Generally, the sugar will converted into alcohol in the process described earlier, after the yeast has been activated. In addition to sugar, we will also need any type of juice, although it is possible to use water instead, which will result of some kind of “sugar wine“. It is possible to use regular juice or any of the concentrated kind, but at any rate, we should make sure it doesn’t contain any artificial preservatives which would prevent fermentation and disrupt the whole process.
In addition, we would need a jug or any other kind of container to have it all mixed, and some kind of a balloon to be able to pull around the container’s mouth (for filtering the CO2 gas, see later).
The first thing to care about while approaching brewing is the business of sterility. Keeping everything sterile and clean makes sure we avoid any kind of bacterial infection. In general, if we used bought juice or water, it should already be sterile from within, unless we exposed it to the air for too long without the cap.
The first step of the brewing involves dissolving the sugar. If we’re using a gallon of juice, we should make some room in the jug by drinking a glass or two of the juice, and then use the room to add about a cup of sugar to the jug. If we decide to use frozen concentrate juice, we should let it thaw a bit first and then add around half a gallon of hot water to it, with two cups of sugar.
Following this, the yeast we prepared earlier is now due for activation and adding to the mix, which should have cooled down to room temperature. In general, it is possible to just add the yeast to the jug, but it’s better to follow the instructions on its packet to see how it is activated first. If there are no instructions, the safest way is to add the yeast to a bit of warm water and sugar, and stir it until it dissolves completely. Then, we should leave it to sit for around 10 minutes, which should have frothing up, and subsequently add it to the rest of the mix inside the jug. We close the jug tightly, and proceed to shake it together properly, making sure everything is dissolved one in another.
There is the part where the formerly mentioned balloon comes to be used. We should open the cap of the jug slightly enough to let air out, and then place the mouth of the balloon over the cap. Afterwards, we can poke a small hole with a needle in the thickest part of the balloon. The effect of this is that when the yeast beings to ferment the mix, it will bubble up together with some CO2 gas, which needs some way to be let out of the jug without the jug being exposed to air. This setup is offered by using the balloon.
After brewing is finished, fermentation is all about waiting. In general, the jug should be stored in a dark place. As it will produce some kind of odor, it’s better to store it somewhere where it won’t bother anyone, such as a basement.
We should be seeing bubbles rising in the jug at the latest by the end of the second day, otherwise something has gone wrong. If everything is alright, there should be a stable flow of carbonation going through the balloon for a period of at least three days. This process can be as long as two weeks until the yeast is all consumed, but generally fermentation shouldn’t last too long.
Once the bubbling within the jug has stopped, we can put the jug inside a fridge in oder to destroy the rest of the yeast. The jug can be left in the fridge over night. In the morning, the contents of the jug should become clearer, and unless all the yeast has been consumed before, a layer of dead yeast (dregs) should be visible at the bottom of the jug. At this point, we should pour out and filter the clear portion of the jug into another container, leaving out the dregs. To make an even purer alcohol, it is possible to repeat this process for a few more nights in order to remove even more dregs from the mixture.
Generally, at this stage we are done and have something drinkable. It is possible at this stage to perform a secondary fermentation, but it’s not compulsory. Another option is to keep the contents sealed away and let them age, giving them better quality. It’s even possible to bottle the alcohol to ensure it ages well with time.
It is possible to ferment most types of juices, as long as they don’t contain any kind of preservatives that harm the yeast. Generally, experimenting with different kind of juices will produce different results which may be better or worse, highĺy depending on personal taste.
Fermented beverages are usually classified according to the basis from which they are fermented. Beers are usually made from cereal gains, while wines are made from fruit juices, and meads from honey.
Other beverages are made by distilling fermented beverages. Those beverages are generally considered stronger and have a much higher alcohol content due to the distillation process. Examples of such beverages are whiskeys, which are made from fermented cereal grains, brandies, from fermented fruit juices, and rum, which is distilled from fermented molasses or sugarcane juices.
In addition, beverages like vodka or other neutral grain spirits can be distilled from any fermented material, but they are considered so pure that almost no material from the original starting basis remains after the distillation process. An additional class of beverages is made from combining different flavors into distilled spirits, and a good example of such a drink is gin, made from neutral grain alcohol infused with juniper berries.
It is also technically possible to concentrate alcohol by a means different from distillation, such as freeze distillation, a process in which water is frozen out of the fermented basis, leaving a beverage stronger in ethanol than before. Good examples of such beverages are Applejack, made from apple cider, or Ice beer, from beer.
The process of fermentation, as has been described before, is not only used in the making of alcohol or rising bread dough, but also when alcohol is produced as fuel. When used to make fuel, the dominant ethanol feedstock in warmer regions is usually sugarcase, whereas in temperate regions, sugar beet may be used. In the United States, the main feedstock for the production of ethanol is corn.
The process of ethanol fermentation, which is often also referred to as alcoholic fermentation, is specifically a process where sugars such as glucose, fructose and sucrose convert into cellular energy, thereby producing ethanol as well as carbon dioxide (the gas that was let out by the balloon in our fermentation example).
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