Saturday, August 7, 2010

Haphazard Brewing

Making your own potables isn't magic. This photo shows a couple of my fermenters and other miscellaneous brewing supplies. They are stashed in a particularly cluttered corner of my cramped home office.

As you can see, I've got a small batch going in the glass fermenter. About 90% of my brewing supplies were donated. Lots of people try home brewing or get kits as gifts. They may brew one batch or two then give up on it. The glass fermenter was found in a yard sale by a friend of mine. He didn't do anything with it and eventually gave it to me.

I recycle beer bottles -by putting beer in them. Much more energy efficient than shipping the bottles to the recycling center. When people visit and bring beer in recappable bottles, I clean and save them. Not much I can do with bottles that have twist off caps. Only those that need a bottle opener can be reused. Any cardboard six pack holders and 12 pack boxes will be put to use. That funny looking red thing in the upper left corner of the photo is a cheap bottle capper. Caps are pretty inexpensive at the brewing supply store.

There are plenty of good books out there on how to home brew. I'm certainly not going to try and duplicate the great information in them. The idea I want to get across is that brewing isn't all that difficult. Things don't have to be perfect to produce good drink. Cleaning everything thoroughly will prevent most problems. I'm also blessed with having a good spring as my water source.

Once you get the basic brewing equipment, don't hesitate to experiment. I once made a perfectly drinkable red wine from concentrated grape juice and bread yeast. It would not have won any awards, but went down well with a big plate of pasta. You can do something with just about anything that contains sugar. It will ferment.

For example, hard cider can be made with apples, water, some sugar, and yeast. Brewing yeast is great if you have it, but it's possible to brew with the natural yeast that lives on the skin of the apple. There's less control, but it can be done. Being able to make do with what's at hand can make the difference between having something and having nothing.

This time of years there are lots of fruits and berries ready for picking, many for free. Can't make much cheaper drink than that.

Back in the old days, if a brew didn't turn out quite right, it could always be distilled for the ethanol. If it wasn't great after one run through the still, the second pass would do the trick. By then it'd be 90 - 95% ethanol. I'm not going to tell you how to build your own still and break the law. Plenty of other sources on the 'net for that info.

Making you own drink is a darn good skill to have. I save a bundle and enjoy experimenting with different brews. The occasional alcoholic drink can be one of life's little pleasures. Be careful not to become dependent -that takes the pleasure out of it. On the other hand, too much moderation is bad for you.

Funny thing, commercial booze gives me headaches. My own doesn't. Kinda makes me wonder what happens in those commercial breweries. If my haphazard brewing methods produce a better product, I can't help but be a bit concerned.



  1. "I'm going to tell you how to build your own still and break the law." I kept reading and reading and hoping . . . minor edit needed. ;)

    You can also run cheap liquor through the still to improve it. Best liquor I have ever had was some moonshine a friend came across.

  2. Thanks! Must have been drinking.

  3. For those who haven't home brewed your own beer you need to give it a try. After a few cases it's hard to swallow the commercial watered down stuff.