The basic recipe for brewing unflavoured alcohol (mash) is sugar, water and yeast. During the fermentation process Oxygen must be excluded from the fermentation or the process will be destroyed. Legal kits and equipment may be purchased in wine-making and brewing shops in most countries.
The basic requirements for 10% unflavoured alcohol are:
Use a 200ml bottle to start the yeast. Dissolve the yeast in about 150ml warm water together with tablespoon of sugar. Plug the bottle top with tissue and keep it warm for 24 hours or until it begins to ferment. A little lemon juice will also aid the yeast to start.
Dissolve the sugar in 80% of the water, add the yeast and fit an air-lock to keep Oxygen out of the bottle. The bottle should be kept a little warmer than room temperature during fermentation, the top panel of a refrigerator is an ideal place to store the bottle during fermentation as the refrigerator generates just sufficient heat from the radiator at the rear. Wine-making and brewing shops also sell temperature controlled heating mats, but this may be an unnecessary luxury.
For the first week there will be a thick head of froth on the surface of the liquid. This especially true if making beer or fruit based wines. When the froth has subsided, add the remainder of the water. Fermentation is complete when the Specific Gravity (SG) of the liquid has dropped below 1.000, typically 0.995.
After about one month gently siphon off the (almost) clear liquid from the sediment and put the liquid back in the jar. This will prevent the brew from becoming spoiled or bad tasting after sitting on a dead sediment for months. When the brew has finished fermenting repeat this procedure once again. By now the brew should be clear and fit to drink, albeit a little flavourless. The amount of sugar governs the alcoholic content, up to a point. More than about 2.5lb (1.1Kg) of sugar to the gallon will result in a sweeter tasting brew.
Exactly the same procedure as above, but instead of 1 gallon of water, use 1/2 a gallon of water and 1/2 gallon of cheap "near beer" (alcohol free beer). The quantity of sugar should also be halved or the beer will be stronger than Newcastle Brown Ale. Bottle after about 10 days (SG = about 1.005) in a pressure bottle with 1/2 a teaspoon of sugar for each litre of beer. Ready to drink after a further 14 days. Experiment with different quantities of "near beer" and the amount of sugar used in the pressure bottle.
Exactly the same basic procedure, but instead of using water, use grape-juice. This is available in concentrated form from most wine-making and brewing shops. Alternatively, a small bottle of RIBENA concentrated black-current juice (not sugar free) may be added to the water. Gently simmer the Ribena first to destroy the preservative or it will kill the yeast. Makes a very pleasant wine.
The quantity of yeast is very important for wines. 1 level teaspoonful will get the wine off to a quick start but will leave a yeasty taste to the final product. Try using only two or three GRANULES of the dried yeast in the starter bottle and leaving it for a few days. This will effectively remove the flavour of yeast from home-made wines, but it does need a little more care and mucking about to get it started.
Grape juice available for drinking purposes may also be used, but this must be diluted with water to about 50% because these cartons of juice are rather strong. They also contain some sugar, so the quantity of sugar must be reduced. Try one brew with 1/2 the stated amount, then modify for the next brew. This method can make a very palatable red wine.
The wine should be left a good couple of months in the fermenting vessel after fermentation has stopped. If this is not done there is always the chance that fermentation will continue slowly and burst the bottle. There is no reason why a wine cannot mature in the fermenting vessel.
Have fun, and don't get too pissed. Regards HARRY, Lunda, Sweden.