Making alcohol is a snap. It can occur naturally when yeast comes into contact with sugars. Fermentation, or alcohol production, occurs when yeast metabolizes sugars. The byproduct from the yeast is alcohol and CO2.
When making alcohol one just needs to take a liquid or juice which is high in sugar and add yeast. When making wine the sugars come from the grapes . Winemakers will pick the grapes whenever the sugar content is just right for making wine. Beer makers may use a combination of malted barley, cereals and grains and plenty of water (mash). However, the brewers will need to cook the mash so they can convert the starches into fermentable sugars. Winemakers do not have this concern given that the sugars inside the grapes are readily available to be fermented. Making whiskey is comparable to making beer. However, the product after ferment will be distilled to make a beverage that is approximately 40% alcohol by volume. The mixture of several grains and cereals will ultimately determine the taste, flavor profile, of the end product.
Yeast is abundant. The most frequently used yeast put to use in wineries, breweries and distilleries is Saccharomyces cerevisiae. It is one of the most common species of yeast used to make alcoholic products. Having been used since ancient times in brewing and baking it is believed that yeast was initially isolated from grapes skins. Often you can observe on the skin of grapes a white film which is partially made up of yeast. Brewers, distillers and winemakers will select specific strains of yeast to add particular flavor components. Yeast selection is also critical for the solution that it will be required to ferment. Some yeast strains perform better in high pH while others do better with a lower pH solution. As the yeast metabolizes the sugars the concentration of alcohol increases which kills the yeast. This is the reason why it’s difficult to ferment a mash to an alcohol level beyond 18 percent. To reach higher alcohol content product it is essential to distill the fermented mash.
What might you make alcohol with? Anything at all with sugar. This includes beet pulp, apples, grains, etc. Some of us use animal feed like cracked corn to make whiskey mash. As long as there are fermentable sugars it could be converted to alcohol.
There are plenty of sites on the internet that have posted different recipes for making alcohol. For instance, one simple recipe is to use concentrated grape or apple juice, sugar and water. There isn’t any cooking involved. Just add the yeast and let the magic happen.
Learning about how to make whiskey as well as the technology and techniques for making various alcoholic beverages is a fun hobby that has plenty of resources available to get you started. Making whiskey is an ancient art. Craft distillery often give tours which are always education and fun.