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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Thirteen Alcoholic Beverages you can Make at Home

Alcohol is one of those things in life that many of us enjoy, but few of us ever try to make ourselves. Far from a stressful and complex chore, home brewing of alcoholic beverages is in fact a legal art that can be both satisfying and rewarding. Whether you want to try your hand at brewing beer, wine or spirits, its all very doable and could turn into a unique adult hobby with some practice. Below are the thirteen most commonly brewed alcoholic beverages and what home brew hobbyists use to make them.

Hard Apple Cider


One of the best things about fall is the harvest of fresh apples that the brisk northern climate brings in. In addition to snacking on them or baking them into pies, many people choose to brew their own hard apple cider. Brewers often first make their own cider with freshly picked apples grown at home. Preservatives ruin the fermenting process, so most store bought brands are no good. The fresh cider is then poured into a pot and simmered (not boiled) for 45 minutes. Many people choose to add as many as two pounds of brown sugar to the mix, as this will later ferment and increase the alcohol content of the brew. Once cooled to room temperature, the cider is poured into a fermenting bucket where yeast is added to trigger the natural process by which alcohol is created. In three weeks time the seasonal inebriating beverage is ready to be served!

Strawberry Wheat Ale


This home made brew combines the smooth and light qualities of a wheat ale with the unique flavor of fresh strawberries. The first task to harvest a batch of strawberries for the brew. Those who do not grow their own buy organic from small merchants or farmer's markets. Pesticides, fertilizers and preservatives are not good for the brew and can interfere with flavor and fermentation. The strawberries are then pureed and brought to a simmer to kill bacteria. Meanwhile, in a separate mixture, oats, wheat malts and hops are brewing the ale which the strawberries will be added to. Once combined, the brew is set to ferment for about three to four weeks. When it is ready, the beer yields a summery flavor that can be perfected by varying the levels of wheat, hops, and fruit in further batches.



No longer just a woodsman's hobby, home brewing fine whiskey has recently become a popular and involved art for a growing number of people known as "Whiskey Geeks." Wired magazine recently ran an article on the practice of making high class hooch in which a few home brewers claim that the art takes practice to perfect, but eventually you will learn to brew as good as any commercial distillery. Home made whiskey generally consists of sugar, rye, and yeast (for fermentation). The yeast is mixed with water and heated to a bubble. Over the course of about eight days sugar and rye are added in. The mash is then distilled and poured over charred white oak chips for woody flavoring.



Gin was perhaps the most popular home brew during prohibition, known by most as "bathtub gin." It was called this because many makers would store their batches in tubs before distributing it to the local speakeasies. Brewers of gin typically use a whiskey base and various botanicals for flavoring. Juniper berries and coriander seeds usually constitute most of the botanical ingredients, but other flowers and roots are sometimes used to perfect the taste. Liquorish root, for example, is a common extra ingredient that can make a big difference in the flavor of the brew. The gin is made by one of two processes: distilling or compounding. Distilling involves adding the flavorings slowly over a continuous process while compounding simply requires combining the ingredients with neutral spirits at once.



Not for the entry level home brewer, vodka is one of those potent potables that requires patience, experience and care to properly make. Vodka mash can be made out of several various ingredients depending on the smoothness of brew desired. Rough varieties commonly use potatoes while finer vodkas use grains such as wheat or rye. The mash is fermented for two weeks, then distilled three times. This process involves using heat to evaporate it through tubes and into a collecting container. Triple distilling makes the vodka refined and safe to drink. Each time the brewer distills the mash, it is important that he remembers to discard the first and last 50 milliliters of alcohol. This removes the harmful wood alcohol that can cause blindness if it were drank. Next, brewers run the vodka through active carbon filters to take the roughness off of the flavor. This can be done as many as seven times for ultimate smoothness before it is diluted with water, representing the end of the brewing process. If a flavoring is desired, the vodka is poured into a container with berries, peppers, vanilla bean, or any other flavor additive and left to sit. After a few weeks the vodka will have taken on the flavor and is ready to enjoy.



Pulque is a distinctly flavored native beverage of Mexico and is home brewed by many Mexican hobbyists. The primary ingredient in this unique tasting beer is agave cactus, which is often fermented and distilled into tequila. Home brewers trim all the leaves off of the cactus and slice the big pineapple looking base into large chunks. These chunks are then baked at around 300 degrees. This effectively turns the starches into sugar that can be fermented. When the agave is done baking, it is removed from the oven and the sweet nectar is rinsed off with hot water and collected in a pot. Once this juice cools, brewers add yeast and ferment the mash for about a week. When it is done, out emerges a fresh batch of pulque, ripe for the tasting.

Red Wine


Most people know that wine is made from grapes, but many do not know much more than that. The process by which wine is made is actually quite easier than it appears. Home brewing is a popular hobby in America, and many people utilize various techniques and grape selections to brew very fine varieties. The essentials of home brewed wine consists of crushing fresh, organic grapes into a pulp to form the base of the wine. From there, brewers add yeast, sugars and any additional ingredients, before allowing the mix to ferment for about a week. After seven days, the wine maker strains the mix to filter out any remaining grape skins, pulp pieces and other ingredients. The mix is then further fermented, bottled and aged for a period of 6 to 24 months. The older the wine, the better is tastes, so it is important to be patient when brewing this particular drink.



Whether partying with vikings, celebrating your Norwegian heritage, or simply listening to an Amon Amarth CD and reading some Norse mythology, mead is classic viking drink that has been home brewed for centuries. Brewers begin with pure water, (or if you want to be true to the drink's roots, melted snow) and honey. Honey is added to the water and the mix is heated until it becomes smooth and consistent. As it boils, foam will quickly develop on top, and it is essential that the brewer frequently skims this off. Once no more foam rises to the top, the mixture is allowed to cool until lukewarm. A spoonful of yeast is then added and the mix is set to ferment. After about six weeks the mead will be ready to enjoy, though many claim that allowing an even longer time will produce better tasting results.

Irish Cream


Since liquor stores are not open at 9 AM, it occasionally becomes necessary to add a little kick to your morning cup of coffee to start the day off on the right foot. In such situations, what you need is some Irish cream to mix into your mug. In order to make this you'll need to break out your blender and get to work. Pour in a 14 ounce of sweetened and condensed milk and a cup of heavy cream. In a separate bowl, crack open some eggs and pour them into the blender as well. Finally, add some chocolate syrup, a couple tsp of espresso and some vanilla and almond extracts into the blender for flavorings. Turn the blender on and mix it up until its all nice and uniform. Now for the fun part. Crack open a bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey and dump in half of a 750ml bottle. Recap the blender, mix it up some more, and you're all done. Now all that's left is to bottle the tasty cream up and refrigerate it. You better drink it fast though, for it comes with an expiration date of 30 days. Looks like you'll be having more than a few memorable mornings at the office.



Nothing hits home like straight, undiluted alcohol. If you're in the mood to get so drunk your friends have "9-1" dialed on the phone and are arguing over whether to push the next "1," then what you need is some good old-fashioned moonshine. To begin, grab a few pounds of the cheapest sugar you can find. Dump it into a bunch of water and bring the water to a boil to dissolve it all. Next, let the water cool to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit and add your yeast. Lightly cover the mix, but leave some room for the CO2 produced by the yeast to escape. Give it 10 to 25 days to finish fermenting. Next you'll need to run the mix through a still, (for which there exist many good instructions online) and out comes your moonshine. Enjoy in extreme moderation. After all, too much of the stuff can make you go blind!



Sambuca is a sweet Italian liquor that tastes a bit like liquorish. Sambuca is usually enjoyed straight up (and sometimes on fire), but some people choose to add it to coffee for an extra kick in the morning. Making your own sambuca is not very hard, though it does require a lot of waiting. Most home brewers take a 1 liter bottle and add flavorless vodka with essential oil of Anise. After doing so, the bottle must be shaken vigorously to dissolve the oil. Next, home brewers typically add sugar and hot water, and then shake the bottle some more to dissolve all the sugar. Lastly, the bottle must be stored for six months before drinking. This is the hard part, as most people want to pound their booze right away. But if you are patient and can wait, you will have a great tasting liquor of your very own to present at the next house party.

Chocolate Liquor


if you enjoy the taste of Frangelico, you might want to check out a good recipe for making your own chocolate liquor. Chocolate liquor is a great desert treat with various pastries, and can also make some really unique tasting shots and cocktails. Most people choose to start with Bacardi 151 rum, simply for its quality and seriously high alcohol content. The rum is poured into a mixing bottle and vanilla bean halves and coco nibs are added. Next, the bottle is left to sit for three weeks, though it is important to remember to give it a good shake every day to stir the ingredients. When the three weeks are over, strain the liquor into a new, fancy bottle and serve chilled to anyone looking for a strong and tasty treat!

Hard Welch's


Sometimes you just aren't in the mood to be classy about what you drink. Drinking fine wine or Grand Marnier can get old, and sometimes you might just feel its time to drink the cheapest, bummiest thing you can get your hands on. The next time this urge hits, head to the local grocery store and pick up two cans of Welch's frozen juice concentrate because its time to adulterate a beloved childhood favorite. Bring one quart of water to a boil and dissolve 1-1/4 lbs of sugar into it. Remove it from the heat and mix in the frozen concentrate. Now add another gallon of water, 2 tbs acid blend, 1 tsp of pectic enzyme, and 1 tsp yeast nutrient. Cover this concoction with a napkin held on by a rubber band and set it aside for 12 hours. Once the time is up, mix in wine yeast and recover it with the napkin after about 5 days you can bottle it with an air lock and let it sit for 30. Voila! You now have a drink so cheap it'll make you crave a 40 ounce of Old English.


noor December 2, 2019 at 6:29 PM  

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