otago massacre

cheap home made alcohol by ophalm
February 13, 2009, 6:06 am
Filed under: guide, student life | Tags: , , , ,

it’s entirely possible you are on a super tight budget. concepts such as “warmth” and “nutrition” are luxuries you can’t afford, and while some would say alcohol too was a luxury, it’s life giving properties and pain numbing sensations has proved it extremely worth while and a must-have in anyones survival kit

there is a problem though: alcohol costs money. this is a simple fact of life that can’t be escaped unless you’re one of those pricks who turns up to a party with no drink and get given drinks out of sheer pity (a noble cause, don’t get me wrong). ideally the cheaper the drink the better, right? you can bang on down to north dunedin super liquor and get some southern gold for $1 a can, or maybe go to paknsave and get some cheap wine, but that would require going to south dunedin, or you could make your own.. or you could just complain about it to the internet. (always listening, never caring)

so as luck would have it, a magical recipe for ginger beer has fallen into my hands. and when I say “recipe” I don’t so much mean it in the sense of “pancake recipe” but more “p recipe” because it’s all about chemical reactions and getting on the waste

ginger beer is not normally an alcoholic drink, but any form of fermentation is going to create some alcohol and here is a lesson in chemistry:

fermentation: yeast in anaerobic conditions converts sugar to co2 + ethanol.

lesson over

so to start how do we make ginger beer?

now if we wanted to do it the very easy way, basically, put some sugar (I’ll get to the amount later) in an empty coke bottle, luke warm water, a teaspoon to a tablespoon of ginger powder and a 1/4 teaspoon of yeast. put the lid on and leave for a day. that’s it. when you open the lid you have to be careful as an insane amount of co2 has built up and it’ll take a couple of minutes of letting the fizz out… so you’ll have a nice tasting ginger beer that’s fizzy

the problem with the above recipe is that when the co2 builds up past a certain level, the reaction stops and no more sugar is converted to co2 + ethanol.. bad news for those addicted to alcohol
so the trick is to let the co2 out – but not let o2 in (otherwise the reaction will aerobic and won’t make ethanol)
so all I’ve done is attach a small rubber tube to the lid (sealed n shit), and I’m gonna dangle it in water, so no air can come in, but the co2 can escape and allow the reaction to go to completion


will this work? will anything I ever guide you to do work? it’s a question that can’t be answered. it’s entirely possible that the reaction will need a bit of heat to get it going/keep it going. why is this? I don’t know because I’m not a brewer.. I’ve found if I put the bottle in a pot of hot water it gets it going again. apparently this “yeast” likes heat. it also makes heat sometimes. why it can’t make all the heat it needs for itself is beyond me but you’ve got to work with what you’re given.

so how alcoholic is it? I used some form of poor stoiciometry to work out that you needed 2 cups of sugar (~400g) in 1.5L bottle and that would make 3.5 standard drinks but I was wrong.
apparently the rule is 17g of sugar per % per litre. so if you want 1.5L of 5% then that’s 17 x 1.5 x 5 = 127g of sugar. I made one with my method before I realised how to do it properly and used 400g so my drink is going to be about 15% (or 7 std drinks in a 1.5L) but I’m not sure how high you can make it before the yeast stops working, probably around 15% or so, or maybe less, so mine will just be sweet (literally)

I’ve yet to work out a cost for this, but $6 for 5kg that’s probably gonna cost $8 all up for ~100-120 standard drinks, ringing in at about 12 drinks per $. in fact that’s so insane my maths must be wrong

and it’s even possible to make it taste good (this requires effort – something this guide does not)

brew time