Introduction: Understanding: Drinking Alcohol
In this Instructable I will be teaching you the different processes, and methods that are used to create different types of drinking alcohol (Beers, Hard Liquors, and Wines).
And now of course comes the boring part the...
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A. Caught on fire.
D.Eaten by Rabid dogs.
In some other way harmed by the use of the information provided by this Instructable.
I am not responsible.
I am also not responsible for you waking up next to an ugly chick/dude.
Final note: I may make changes to this depending on the comments .etc
*EDIT* Celsius degrees have been added to the following sections: "Beer: The so called Blue Collar Beverage", and "Yeast: Our friend."
Step 1: Yeast: Our Friend.
Before, we get to the different drinks created from yeast, lets get to know it a little bit.
Yeast is a fungus and belongs to the Fungi Family. It is used in a few things some being: baking, and making liquors.
In baking yeast is prized for its ability to eat sugar and create Co2 thus rising the bread and making it lighter and softer. Without yeast most breads would be about the size of a 10 yo's fore-arm and either as hard as a rock or really really tough.
In liquors yeast is prized in both its ability to make alcohol, and in some cases such as beer and wine Co2 as well. Without yeast beers, wines, and harder liquors would be flat, and taste like rotten fruit or malt.
Now that we know somethings that yeast is used for, lets learn some fun facts about it.
Yeast can be quite delicate, too much heat and it dies, too little heat, and it goes dormant. Most yeasts prefer temperatures between 100-120 'F (37-48 'C)
Yeast has different strands that have different effects on the finished product such as, higher alcohol content or, different tastes.
If exposed to its own byproduct, alcohol, in quantities greater than 13%-15% (varies on yeast strand) it dies which is why beers and wines don't get much higher than 30 proof.
Let's move on now to Wine.
Step 2: Wine: the So Called "White Collar" Beverage.
Ahhh wine, practically the only thing that you can spend $300 bucks on and drink it within a week.
Well, wine is the counter part of beer believe it or not, despite its high price it is surprisingly easy to make. Heck, lets just put it this way, its one of the easiest alcoholic beverages to make. There wasn't even any specific science to make it back in the old days, just gather up the town, step on a bunch of ripe fruit, put the juice in a container and let it sit. Ok, maybe there were a few more steps that I left out, but you get the picture.
Wine, is a product created by using yeast to ferment the natural sugars in fruits. The most popular fruit is the grape, but virtually ANY fruit can be used to make wine.
There are 2 types of wine Red, and White. While some may argue that White wine is made from White grapes, that isn't necessarily true, while most White wines *are* made from White grapes, white wine can also be made from dark grapes. White wine is actually made from the inside of the grape without the skin, while red wine is made from grapes with the skin.
While, in the old days people didn't get the chance to use special brands of yeast, they still had it. The grapes that they stomped had wild yeast on their skins, so all they had to do was stomp the grapes and set up the grapes to ferment. Now with this bit of information you can really see how easy it is to make a wine. Heck, the wine practically makes itself.
Finished wines are split into 2 categories Dry, and Sweet. Dry wine is a wine in which all the sugar has been metabolized (eaten) by the yeast, and a sweet wine is a wine where some sugars are still left.
White wines benefit from aging for five years, after which they will tend to begin to taste worse. Red wines, however, can keep improving for 30 - 40 years.
The first thing that happens when making wine the grapes are rinsed with hot water to remove wild yeasts (if this is desired). Then the grapes are first separated from their stem and then crushed in order to release the juice. The combination of the skin, juice and seeds is called the must. Grapes may be crushed in a few ways, from stomping on them with bare feet, to using large electric presses.
After this the seeds, and skins are kept in the must for a red wine, or are taken out for a white wine.
Once the juice is in the fermentation tank, the yeast is added, but isn't needed if the brewer choose not to sterilize the grapes of wild yeast. Sulfur dioxide is normally introduced into the juice at this time to kill bacterial growth that might spoil the taste of the final product, but this step can be skipped. Fermentation is allowed to continue for about eight to ten days, when the skin is removed from the wine if it is still present.
After the initial fermentation, the liquid is allowed to ferment for another 20 days to about a month. During this second fermentation, the dead yeast cells as well as other particulate matter settle to the bottom. When this process is complete, the wine is separated from the sediment and transferred to an aging tank. As the aging process continues, more sedimentation occurs, and the wine is often transferred across a series of tanks during aging. This process is known as racking. If the final tank is a wooden cask, this also adds another uncontrolled quantity into the final product. Because wooden cask cannot be cleaned, they provide a unique character to the wine some of which are said to make the wine "superior." However, when using stainless steel vats this uncertainty is removed.
The aging of wine is different . For white wines, 1 year - 18 months,however red wines can age for as long as 5 years. At different stages during the aging, the wine is sampled and judged by wine a master. What happens to the wine is dependent upon the decision of the wine master. The wine may be bottled after aging is complete or used as a blend to make an inferior wine. The bottled wine, again, based on the decision of the wine master, may be aged longer in the bottles or sold immediately after bottling. Once again, this is another variability of the finished wine product.
Step 3: Beer: the So Called "Blue Collar" Beverage
Beer, is practically the exact opposite of wine, it's cheap, and a little harder to make. Beer does need sugar but it gets it from a different source, that source being grains. Now you maybe thinking how does a grain have sugar. Well the answer is grain has starch which can be turned into sugar via certain enzymes which are released by boiling the grain.
(This isn't going to be over elaborate just short and sweet. If you want a more in depth description Google beer making.)
<<<Sanitation is always important.>>>
The first step in creating beer is to crush the grain you are going to use. Then you boil this in water between 150-155 'F (65-68'c) this releases certain enzymes that metabolize the starch into sugar. When this is done you have your "wort" or non-fermented beer. From this point you need to cool the wort or you'll end up killing the yeast. Now place your cooled wort into a fermentation container with an air lock (You can drill a hole in the top of the fermentation container and place a piece of tubing into it leading to a cup of water just above the tubing.) and add your yeast. In about 7-10 days you'll have beer. Now if you used the airlock properly your drink should be carbonated if not then you'll have to do something called Priming the beer which you can learn here.
Step 4: Hard Liquors.
Hard Liquors are distilled versions of beers, and wine. This is done to give the final product a higher alcohol content. A distilled wine is called a brandy, and a distilled beer is a whiskey, bourbon, vodka.etc
*Making a Hard Liquor
To make a hard liquor you must first have a still. Which is illegal to own with out a permit (I think, I know it's illegal to distill). A still is the key to making a hard liquor because like previously discussed yeast will die in more than 15% alcohol making it nearly impossible to get a higher alcohol content. Stills function on a simple process of boiling alcohol into vapor and running that vapor through copper tubing which cool the vapor down which in turn condenses the alcohol back into a more pure liquid state. The result is a hard liquor.
Now some of the more key parts. I'm sure you thinking well how does it get the alcohol to boil off with out boiling the water off. Well, alcohol has a lower boiling temperature, which is around 72'C (173'F), enabling the alcohol to be boiled off leaving less pure and less alcoholic water (and what ever was in the water, yeast, fruit/grain .etc). You must be careful though too much heat and the water will boil also which makes it less alcoholic (It's practically impossible to make a pure alcohol with out extra chemicals because of the bond between the alcohol and water).
Lately, brewers have started a new method called freeze distillation which instead of boiling off the alcohol, you freeze the water leaving you with alcohol.
After distillation some hard liquors have sugars and flavoring added to them for taste purposes, others are diluted with water after a very through distillation (2 or more times) to lower the alcohol content, and also take away flavor for mixing drinks creating a neutral liquor such as vodka or gin.
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