Lockdown booze recipes

Toxxyc

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Hi guys, so this thread is aimed for people to post recipes for others to make their own booze at home. The idea is not to get people drunk or stuff, per se, but I brew as a hobby and I find it insanely fascinating. I've also seen some recipes and stuff out there that doesn't really err on the side of caution, so I think it's best if I post my pleb knowledge a bit so people can just know a bit more about what they're making. So here goes.

I want to start off with a bit of background. I'm not a scientist, I'm not a bio-guy knowing everything about yeast, etc. etc. I'm a homebrewer, that's it. I'm not always right, and my opinions are my own, and can definitely be wrong as well. That being said, I've fermented a few hundred litres of pretty drinkable swill to date, so I am quite confident of my abilites in certain places. With that out of the way, the next thingamabob on the list.

Yeast
So what is yeast? In it's simplest sense, yeast is a type of fungus that eats sugar and poops carbon dioxide (CO2) and alcohol. That eating process is called "fermentation". You get different strains of yeast that will eat different kids of sugars and provide different kinds of flavours into whatever you are fermenting, depending on the yeast strain, the conditions you're providing for the yeast to live in, the temperature you're fermenting it at, the nutrients the yeast receive, etc. etc. Some yeasts prefer cooler temperatures to ferment in (like lager yeast strains) and others don't care (like Kveik types). Some yeast ferment clean (and provides very little flavour to the drink) and others provide strong flavours to your drinks (like your Belgian Ale strains, giving strong spices of clove, and banana).

Now, ideally, you'd want to get yeast that's best for what you are fermenting, as the sugars you are fermenting differs from drink to drink. If you are making beer, you are fermenting sugars called maltose. If you are making ciders, you are fermenting sugars called fructose. If you are making wine, the same applies (fructose). If you are making rum, you are fermenting sucrose. Not all these sugars are fermentable by all strains of yeast, but that's unimportant for this discussion, but what is important is to know that some yeasts ferment certain sugars better than others. That's why you get wine yeasts, champagne yeasts, ale yeasts, distilling yeasts, etc. etc. Keep this in mind for the future.

Another thing about yeast is that it's everywhere. Yes, you can buy packets of cultivated yeasts for different purposes (think brewers yeast and baking yeast you find in your local supermarket), but wild yeast is everywhere. It's in the air we breathe and it's on surfaces and on the skins of fruit and and and. That's why we use preservatives - because if you just juice a bunch of apples and stick them in a container and leave at room temp, you'll have apple cider in a week. But since it's wild yeast, it probably won't taste very good. Yes, it'll have alcohol and make you drunk, for sure, but those wild yeasts also produce wild flavours (esters, remember from above?) that create all kinds of funky flavours. Hence, proper yeasts you buy in store.

Last thing about yeast is that it's pretty hardy. Yeast doesn't easily die. It takes specific chemicals or pasteurisation to really kill yeast (same as bacteria). Now, yeast will start fermenting less and "tap out" at certain levels of alcohol. That level is usually around the 12% ABV mark, but some strains can go much higher. Some less. It is VERY important though to keep in mind here that when the yeast reaches that "tap out" ABV, it doesn't die. It "goes dormat", so to speak. Gets drunk and takes a day off. As soon as you add water to dilute that 12% ABV back down to say 10%, that yeast will ferment again - sometimes even YEARS down the line. That's why the chemicals we use sometimes in wines and ciders (specifically potassium or sodium metabisilfute and potassium or sodium sorbate) are so important. Ever seen on a bottle of cider or wine a bit that reads "Contains Sulfites"? That's to keep it from going bad in the bottle.

Fermentation
Now this is getting a bit much to read, so I'll keep it shorter going forward. Fermentation. Sugars + yeast = alcohol + CO2. Fermentation is nothing more than that. Where the sugars come from determine what drink you can make. From fruit, you can make ciders or wines. From grains, you're making beer. From honey, you're making mead. Distill any of these, and you get spirits. Simple. Yeast eats the sugar and poops out the others.

BUT, yeast needs nutrients. Yes, it eats sugar, but feeding your yeast just plain sugars is like trying to raise your kid on McDonalds exclusively. It works, but it's definitely not the best, and as a result, the yeast will produce off flavours. The big pro is that fruit often contains a lot of the nutrients that yeast needs (specifically nitrogen), and that's why your simple recipes like pineapple beer usually works. If you're fermenting grains, the same applies. Honey though - oof.

Fermentation is a VERY strong process that doesn't stop easily. If you ferment something and there are still residual sugars in the bottle, the yeast will keep eating until the bottle pops (also called a bottle bomb). It can be amusing, but if it's a glass bottle, it can have serious consequences. So, if you're planning on storing something over time, even in the fridge, PLEASE be sure to "burp" the bottles every day to prevent excessive pressure from building up.

Ingredients
You can ferment any sugars, so to speak, apart from a select few by typical brewers yeasts (not going to go into detail here). You can use household ingredients, but they're typically not the best. Fruit juice, for example, ALWAYS has something done to it. Unless you can get natural, pressed fruit juices that's unclarified and with no preservatives, they're not going to make a good cider or wine (but it can be done). You can use corn or other grains to make a crude beer, but if your crush is wrong and it's not malted, the sugar conversion will be incomplete and won't really work. Plain table sugar (sucrose) works fine, but the resulting alcohol is watery and often very sharp. Honey works VERY well, but requires TLC to get it done, but we're heading into winter and you okes have time, so here goes.
 

Toxxyc

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Recipes
We all obviously know pineapple beer, but maybe y'all want something nicer. Like a fruity white wine, perhaps? Did you know that "fruity white wine" almost perfectly describes "mead"? I have a simple recipe: Honey, water, yeast, yeast nutrient. Now, we can't get yeast nutrient, so you're going to make your own... And herewith my recipe:

Tools and ingredients:
Sanitizer, like Miltons (baby bottle cleaner)
15l container
Big-ass spoon
Clean, drinkable water. Tap water works, but RO water works better (cleaner flavour)
1 x 10g packet of regular bread yeast
1 x packet of brewers yeast (never used this, but it should work). Can buy this at most supermarkets, corner cafes, etc. etc. and it's still sold during lockdown. Talking about those blue packets of Anchor Brewing Yeast
2.5kg of honey of your choice. I always recommend the most raw honey you can find, and don't fall for cheap chinese crap, because the flavour will prevail. A good bucket or two of local honey is perfect
Cooler box and a few ice packs if you live in a hot area, or it's still really hot in your area

Method:
0. Sanitize everything that will touch the mead. This includes the bucket and spoon.
1. Stick your honey in a waterbath with warm to hot water. Idea is to let it soften in the container so it mixes easier. Leave while you do Step 2.
2. Take the bread yeast and dissolve it in about 100ml of boiling water in a microwaveable container you can seal with a lid. Stick it in the microwave and nuke it until the solution is boiling, and leave it in there to cool down a bit. The idea is to make a yeast solution, and to KILL the yeast DED. This is going to be your yeast nutrient. If you can get your hands on Fermaid O - great for you, use that. If you don't know what it is, use the bread yeast solution.
3. While it's cooling down, pour your honey into the 15l container.
4. Add clean, cold water until you reach the 10l mark in the container. Mix it frigging, frigging well. ALL the honey should be dissolved in the water with NO residuals left below.
5. If you can, measure the temperature. It should be pretty close to 20°C.
6. Pour in about 1/3rd of your yeast slurry you made in Step 2. Seal the rest of it and stick it in the fridge.
7. Mix again, and sprinkle your packet of brewers yeast on top.
8. Store the container in a cool place, as close to 20°C as possible. It's turning cool in SA right now, so a cupboard or a pantry isn't a bad idea. Make sure ants can't get to it (maybe spray some insecticide around the base of the container).

Don't seal the container, but you can drape a cloth over it to keep out bugs. If the container has a small opening (like a bottle), you can slip a balloon or a rubber glove over the opening and pierce the balloon/glove with a needle. It'll allow the CO2 to escape and not allow anything back in. If you can't keep it at the 20°C range, stick the container in a cooler box and add an ice pack two to three times a day to keep the temperature down.

Within a day, fermentation should begin. After 24 hours, pour in another 1/3rd of that Step 2 solution, and after another 24 hours, pour in the last 1/3rd of that Step 2 solution. Let it sit for a week to 10 days. The fermentation should "die down" a bit by Day 7/8, and you'll notice how the foam layer on top will eventually disappear and "fall down" into the mead.

Taste the mead. It should taste very dry, slightly sour and it will possibly remind you of a Brut champagne. Pour the mead into another clean container and try to get as much of the CO2 out of the solution as you can. The idea is to get it "flat". Since you don't have chemicals to stabilize, you're going to store the mead this way, and sweeten it in the glass. Keep it clean and sealed, and try to avoid getting oxygen into the mead. Oxygen at this stage will create vinegar. You don't want expensive vinegar. Remember to sanitize everything that touches the mead at this point as well.

Serving - it won't be clear, and will be quite murky. Should be a light golden colour. To drink, I would recommend you chill to wine temperature, and stir a teaspoon of honey into a glass of poured mead. The added sweetness will break the dryness. Add more or less honey depending on how you like your wine - dry, or semi-sweet, or very sweet. A fruit juice concentrate also works (specially something with apple/cranberry) and creates a wonderful drink. The juice concentrate will eliminate a lot of the off flavours and give you a very "wine spritzer" type drink. I've done this before - and it's great! If you plan on using the juice concentrate, to save money, you can even remove 1kg of the honey and replace it with about 800g of regular table sugar. The lack of mouthfeel and body will be made up by the fruit juice and you'll get a very similar experience but for a few bucks less.

The above method should give you a mead of around 10% ABV, and yield about 9 litres of it (about 12 bottles). You can scale the recipe up or down as you please.

As a final note: I haven't made the above. I use a similar recipe and method for making a DAMN good mead at home already (including subbing some honey for regular sugar), so I just changed this up to perhaps work with household ingredients. Try it, let me know how it goes!
 

Toxxyc

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Yeah and disclaimer - I take no responsibility for this. If you want to scale it up and sell it to your neighbours and you get locked up - sorry neh? Also, if you get sick from too much or it goes off or whatever, something somewhere went wrong. Again, no responsibilities.

Homebrewing is not against the law (not even in the lockdown), so you should be fine. We all know Cele makes up his own rules though, so keep that in mind as well. Don't brew in your front yard in 3 x 210l drums because yes, it's going to attract attention.
 

NarrowBandFtw

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note: mead will mature similar to wine, mellows out nicely over time

so if you don't have to drink it, keep it, I still have a batch in the closet from over a year ago, when my wine runs out that is now my emergency lockdown stash ;)
 

Toxxyc

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note: mead will mature similar to wine, mellows out nicely over time

so if you don't have to drink it, keep it, I still have a batch in the closet from over a year ago, when my wine runs out that is now my emergency lockdown stash ;)
This. Even "bad" mead can turn out nice.

Also, don't try to go over that 10% ABV mark I specified. I've found that mead quality degrades quickly if you don't know what you're doing when you push ABV. I've done an 18% one before, but it tasted like I was drinking jet fuel and gave TERRIBLE hangovers from just a little bit. Between 10% and 11% ABV is the sweet spot, in my personal opinion.
 

Papa Smurf

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yeah massive thanx @Toxxyc :thumbsup:
looking forward to making easy lockdown booze with what you can easily find in supermarkets
 

NarrowBandFtw

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I've done an 18% one before, but it tasted like I was drinking jet fuel and gave TERRIBLE hangovers from just a little bit. Between 10% and 11% ABV is the sweet spot, in my personal opinion.
lol, mine is at the 10-11% mark, tastes pretty good but still gives me pretty terrible hangovers

any hangover fixing tips for lockdown? :sneaky:
 

Toxxyc

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lol, mine is at the 10-11% mark, tastes pretty good but still gives me pretty terrible hangovers

any hangover fixing tips for lockdown? :sneaky:
Bit hard to tell off the bat. What yeast are you using, what nutrients are you using and do you have temperature control measures in place?
 

Toxxyc

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By the way, if you age the mead, it'll eventually turn crystal clear, like this:


Here's a chilled mead with the fruit juice concentrate I've made. It was aged about 2.5 years, and the pic doesn't look it, but it's also crystal clear:


If you plan on aging, there are some things to do to prevent spoilage, so ask before you plan on doing it.
 

Toxxyc

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Yes. There's no precision, no indication of when the fermentation is complete and no control over the level of fermentation. You could be building bottle bombs or you could be making a weak 0.5% ABV sparkling drink, for all you know. To put it into perspective, the sugar required to create 1% ABV is enough to make 95% of glass bottles explode from the CO2 produced. I hate these "home recipes" that has no control and no measurement. If you have no control and no measurement, the only way is to let the fermentation complete on it's own (like in my recipe). Then it's "safe". Before that, sugar will turn into alcohol and CO2, and that builds up pressure.
 

NarrowBandFtw

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Bit hard to tell off the bat. What yeast are you using, what nutrients are you using and do you have temperature control measures in place?
used specific mead yeast (see below), no nutrients just honey, water and yeast, nothing else so it is about as dry as humanly possible

no temp control either, but that's usually not a problem with fairly forgiving yeast and not much temp fluctuation, was originally brewed in December 2018
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djbrendan

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Making Hard Cider: Yes, you can make hard cider just by letting the cider continue to ferment! Instead of bottling it right away, you'll want to seal the bottle with a fermentation lock to allow carbon dioxide to escape. Also, use two teaspoons of yeast to really get fermentation going. Once fermentation has finished, you can then bottle the hard cider. A fermentation lock and other equipment for brewing hard cider can be purchased at your local brewing supply store or online"

So buying apple juice 2L, adding yeast and left it be for 4 days. You've probably got a better tasting ( than our home made cider ) hard cider in a cleaner and easier way.
 

Toxxyc

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used specific mead yeast (see below), no nutrients just honey, water and yeast, nothing else so it is about as dry as humanly possible

no temp control either, but that's usually not a problem with fairly forgiving yeast and not much temp fluctuation, was originally brewed in December 2018
OK so no matter what people say about "high temperature range", cooler is better (unless you have Kveik). Also, because honey has virtually no nutrients for your yeast, you HAVE to feed it. If you didn't, chances are you yeast was unhappy and created fusels. The most commonly created fusel alcohol is Methanol (single-carbon alcohol), created by yeast when it's unhappy. This happens also when it's fermented too warm. If it's in the mead, aging MAY hide it, but I'm going to guess at about 10% ABV and after 18 months, you're going to have to deal with the hangovers.

Always remember - feed your yeast and keep them in a stable, cool temperature range. I ferment my meads with a strong following of the TOSNA 2.0 protocol using organic yeast nutrients (Fermaid-O), no artificial sources of nitrogen (like diammonium phosphate (also called just DAP)) and I ferment them in the fermentation chamber set strictly to 19.5°C for up to a month.

Oh yes, and I don't use a "mead yeast". I use 71B - a wine yeast.
 

djbrendan

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I noticed my cider stopped excessively bubbling after day and a half. You see and hear it bubbling but not as much as the start?
 
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