The Moonshine Project: Brewing at Home
The nationwide lockdown following the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus pandemic has put a strain on resources and essential goods all around the nation. To the average Indian enthusiast, this meant that the simple act of getting one’s buzz on was suddenly transformed into an impossible, albeit much-craved task. This unmet desire was never more apparent than when demonstrated by the crowds that lined the streets as lockdown restrictions were eased, paving the way for liquor stores to be reopened, and then promptly shut again following the ensuing public health and safety concerns. While in most parts of the country home-delivery of alcohol is currently permitted, there are those of us that have been instilled with the fear of a day when this will no longer be true.
While Dalgona coffee and sourdough bread may be the DIY craze of the hour, we at TheVibe offer a respite from the uncertainty surrounding all your boozy desires. Here’s a guide on how to brew your own homemade liquor!
DISCLAIMER: Alcohol prohibition is in force in states such as Gujarat, Bihar, Mizoram and more. The brewing of alcohol at home may be illegal in your state. Homebrewed alcohol, if mismanaged or handled incorrectly, can lead to fatal poisoning, accidents, and various health issues. TheVibe implores you to follow the rules and regulations imposed by your own states while respecting the laws against bottling and distribution of unlicensed liquor. If you are attempting to brew your own alcohol, take the necessary safety precautions, always thoroughly sanitise your equipment before use, and be sure to drink responsibly.
°Apple Raspberry Wine
While winemaking might seem like a daunting task, it doesn’t have to be. Wine, in essence, is fermented juice, brewed using 4 main ingredients: fruit, water, sugar and yeast.
Things you will need:
- 8-gallon container
- 25 screw-top wine bottles with plastic caps
- 2-gallon stainless steel bowl or pot
- 2-quart, small-mesh sack
- Nine 1-gallon, small-mouth jugs
- 1/2 gallon, small-mouth jug
- 6 feet of flexible, clear plastic tubing
- Plastic food wrap
- Rubber bands
- Acid titration kit
- 1 cup raspberries (frozen)
- 3 cups apples (frozen, mixed varieties, chopped)
- 1/2 stick cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
- 1 chilli pepper (dried)
- 20 peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (sea)
- 1/2 lemon (zest and juice)
- 1/2 gallon water
- 2 1/2 cups brown sugar
- 7 1/2 cups sugar (white)
- 1 package wine/champagne yeast
To make a delicious Apple Raspberry Wine, add the raspberries, apples, cinnamon, fennel seed, chilli, peppercorns, sea salt, lemon zest, juice, and water to a large pot and bring to a boil. Bring down the heat, cover, and let simmer for 30 minutes to break down the fruits, extract flavours, and destroy wild yeasts. Use a potato masher to break the fruits down further. Remove from heat and add the brown and white sugar and stir. Add 1½ gallons of cool water. Take a hydrometer reading, your ideal reading should be 1.10~ SG (specific gravity). Cover with a cloth held with elastic or string (or loose lid), and leave at room temperature overnight. Line a funnel with several layers of cheesecloth, and strain the mixture to remove fruit. For the primary fermentation stage, sprinkle the yeast over the liquid and stir, before covering with a cloth. Agitate the mixture daily and take hydrometer readings. The ideal reading should be 1.03 SG. For the secondary stage, you will require an airlock to create an anaerobic environment (i.e. no air). Add water/vodka to the airlock before use. You will know the fermentation is complete when the hydrometer reaches 1.0 or lower for the span of a week. Rack your wine, top with an airlock, and age 2 or more months. When fermentation has finished, you can enjoy your wine young, or let it age. To age and clear your wine, rack every 2 months, or when sediment is 1/2″ thick.
Beer, in its basic composition, is not much different from wine. Rather than using fruit juice, beer employs the use of sugars derived from malt grains.
Things you will need:
- 10-gallon Brewing Bucket
- Siphon Hose
- Flavoured Malt extract (40oz)
- 1 tsp Brewers’ Yeast
- 6-7 cups white sugar/8-9 cups corn sugar
Pour 10 liters of cold water into a 10-gallon plastic pail. If using a new pail, wash with a mixture of water and baking soda to be rid of the plastic smell. In your largest pot, bring seven liters of water to a boil. Add one can of malt extract, and stir and cook uncovered for 20 minutes. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve, pouring the pail contents in immediately upon dissolving, or ‘splash’, the contents quickly, to add air to the mixture. The more air the yeast gets initially, the better. It allows them to rapidly grow and get things going. Top up with bottled drinking water until temperature is neutral. Test using a clean, sanitized thermometer. The pail will now be a little more than half full. Sprinkle in the yeast and stir well, and cover with lid loosely to avoid carbon dioxide buildup within the pail. Keep covered and avoid unnecessary opening. The beer will be ready to bottle in 6- 10 days, depending on ambient temperature of the room and amount of sugar used in the brewing. Room temperature should be 20-24 Celsius at the highest. Test for readiness with a hydrometer, and spin once to get a more accurate reading. Your ideal reading should be 1.008 for dark beers and 1.010-1.015 for light beers. If working without a hydrometer, do a taste test. If your beer is sweet, you aren’t quite there yet.
Homemade liqueurs are simple and effective and require minimal effort and prior preparation. All one needs to do to make their very own homemade liqueur is combine a base liquor with sugar and flavouring.
What you will need:
- Sterilised bottles or jars
- Mesh Strainer
- 3 cups sugar
- 2 cups water
- 2-inch piece vanilla bean
- 8 tablespoons instant coffee
- 1 750ml bottle rum (or vodka)
In a small saucepan, combine the vanilla bean, sugar, and water over medium-high heat to create a syrup. Bring to a boil, and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Bring to a simmer, and when the sugar solution has been reduced by half, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in 8 tablespoons of your instant coffee of choice, and allow the mixture to cool. In a sealable glass jar or bottle, combine the flavoured syrup with the rum or vodka. Shake well, and let sit in a cool, dark area for 10 days. Every day or two, give the bottle a good shake. After 10 days, strain the liqueur through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth to remove all the coffee granules and the vanilla bean. Store in a sealed liquor bottle.
Now that you’re a DIY brewmaster, be sure to experiment and tweak these recipes to brew dizzying creations of your own!
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