This is a very easy, cheap method for making an alcoholic beverage out of juice. There are many more complicated methods out there but they all looked intimidating to me. This will demonstrate the basics so you can overcome any hesitation and start fermenting your own!
I will explain the super easy method of making it in the bottle, as well as the next step of using a carboy.
Step 1: Buy the Stuff
- Juice. Buy the giant club pack size if you're going to use a carboy, or the smaller jug if you want to make it in the bottle. What kind of juice, you ask? You can use nearly anything, but the fewer additives the better. Avoid any preservatives. You don't want a highly acidic juice either, so no lemonade or Five Alive. I've used a cranberry/blueberry cocktail that was fantastic as well as regular grape juice. They all taste different.
Everything else you need from a homebrew or wine making shop:
- Yeast. Buy this from a homebrew shop. Yeast is an organism that eats sugar and leaves behind alcohol. You want a yeast like LALVIN K1-V1116 Saccaromyces cerevisiae Montpellier, but don't let the name scare you. Tell them you need a cider or wine-making yeast. Keep this refrigerated.
- Airlock. There are a few different types. These let air escape the fermentation without letting any outside air in.
- Bung. This is a rubber stopper with a hole for the airlock. It fits in the mouth of your bottle or carboy.
- Dextrose. This is optional if you want to add more sugar to raise the alcohol content. You could also use frozen juice concentrate to add more sugar. It's more fructose than dextrose and will increase the flavour.
- Sanitizer. You will need to sanitize your carboy, but also the bung and airlock.
If you want to make a larger batch or bought the giant size bottle, you will need:
- Carboy. Mine is 11.3 L or big enough for two gallons with plenty of breathing room.
Down the road, you might want a hydrometer and accessories, which will help you calculate the alcohol percentage. Don't worry about that now.
While your first batch will cost a little bit, the only consumables here are extremely cheap. Even in Canada a batch this large would cost under $1/liter.
Step 2: Sterilize Your Equipment
If using a carboy, you will need to sanitize it before adding the juice. Follow the directions to mix your sanitizer and pour it in the carboy. Swish it and shake it vigorously for a few minutes, then dump it into a bowl for sanitizing your airlock and bung.
Leave your carboy upside down to drip-dry. You don't need to rinse it.
Step 3: Add the Ingredients
When your carboy is done drying, add your ingredients: the juice, the yeast, and the optional dextrose or concentrated juices.
Read the directions on the yeast packet. You will probably only need half of it at the most.
Swirl the juice and lightly agitate it to help mix everything up.
IF you want to brew the juice in its own bottle, you would just need to pour some juice out to make room for the bubbling, then add the yeast.
Step 4: Seal It and Wait
Put some water in the airlock (see the MAX water lines) and then insert the airlock into the bung.
Push the bung into the opening of your carboy. Now the hard part: waiting!
Once the bubbling subsides, you know that the yeast is mostly finished eating the sugars. You can then siphon the wine into sanitized containers (like the juice bottles saved from earlier) and store it in the fridge. You could also drink it right away, but it's better if you wait a little longer.
Let me know what you think!