Whether you drink alcohol or not, adding the skill of fermenting or distilling to your toolbox is very useful. Having alcohol on hand to use for medicinal purposes, for cooking, for bartering, or for personal consumption; having the ability to know how to make alcohol comes in very useful.
Let’s start with the essentials –
Water, the start of all life. Having filtered or boiled water to start is best. This eases the flavors of the next step into the process.
From honey, to grains, to fruits or vegetables, alcohol starts in multiple forms. Having an understanding of what each of those can become with a little modification is beneficial skill. Meads, beer, wine, or hard liquor all start with basic ingredients, but knowing which makes which will help to define use.
Heat or time, or both. Are you bringing your batch to a high boil for distilling, or just a medium boil to ensure the sugars release from your ingredients and into your batch. Knowing the correct temp and time will help to drive the flavors or use of your ingredients.
Natural or purchased yeast is the next ingredient. Whether you leave the brew out to collect natural airborne yeast, or have purchased a certain strain of yeast for your batch, knowing how the yeast will interact with what you are creating is another beneficial skill to have. This skill can help to define if your batch is for drinking, flavoring, or medicinal use.
Fermentation requires time. Time for the yeast to eat the sugars and produce alcohol. Time for the used yeasts and sugar extract to sink to the bottom of your container. Time for the alcohol to mature in flavor or proportions.
Filtration is useful for clarity of drink ability, and an absolute for medicinal use. Knowing the easiest and correct ways of filtration will be another addition to your skill set.
Containment is the final piece. Will you be bottling or kegging your batch? What size and kind of bottles does matter. Bottle color also matters depending on what you are making.
Fermenting can be as easy or difficult as you make it. This process has been used for thousands of years, with minimal amount of hardware. Think through what the end goal will be, use quality ingredients, and don’t rush through the process. Remember the yeast has to process all of the sugars in your batch to make the best quality.
Distilling requires a bit more skill, and slightly different equipment. That said, remember this process was perfected in the deep backwoods by people without chemical engineering degrees. You too can do it.
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