People have been making alcohol at home for thousands of years, especially considering that it is really a fairly simple process that involves a little time and sugar. It truly is that simple and it is even easier to learn how to make alcohol that is safe to drink. When you think about life after a collapse, you have to assume manufacturing plants are going to be shut down.
The supply of alcohol that is on store shelves will eventually be depleted, but that doesn’t mean you won’t want a drink now and then. In fact, for many, a drink is exactly what they need to calm their nerves and help them relax a bit.
It isn’t only about taking the edge off and forgetting all your worries. Alcohol has been used medicinally for thousands of years as well, as it dulls the pain, it disinfects and it sterilizes. It is something that every prepper should have some knowledge of.
Knowing how to make alcohol is a valuable skill that will be very useful should there be a disaster so big, the world is thrown into a time when you can’t run to the store and buy more. Imagine having to have a broken leg set or a wound stitched up without the luxury of numbing agents. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a stiff drink or five to help dull the pain?
Alcohol is going to be a prime commodity after a disaster. You don’t necessarily have to drink all that you make. It will make an excellent bartering item. Think back to the days of moonshine trading. It is very likely we will find ourselves in a similar situation with moonshine a valuable commodity that can be used to buy goods and services.
Learning the alcohol-making process now will allow you to hone your skills and perfect your recipes. Your alcohol may be the very thing that makes you wealthy in a post-collapse world.
There are many different ways to make alcohol. We will cover three of the most basic recipes in this article. These are recipes that do not require a lot of fancy equipment or ingredients that are hard to come by. You can of course find more detailed recipes that take a lot more time, require you to own a vineyard or have a fancy setup for brewing. This is about you being able to make alcohol after the world has been turned on its side. The faster and more basic process, the more success you will have and that is what is really important.
Alcohol from table sugar a.k.a sugar wine or Kilju
The first method is using common table sugar and yeast to create a very basic alcohol. This is not going to taste great, but you can use it as fuel or to sterilize medical supplies. It can be consumed, but it isn’t going to taste like anything you have had before.
Kilju is a very popular drink in Finland and is considered a poor-man’s drink. It is consumed to get a person drunk, not for the great taste. When you say the name out loud, you will hear “killed you.” Yes, the drink is stout and it will leave you with a nice hangover, which will make you wonder if it did kill you. However, alcohol like kilju, will have its place in society when the good stuff is obsolete.
Gather the supplies #1
Before you begin the process, you are going to need to do some shopping. For this particular recipe, you only need a handful of ingredients and no fancy equipment.
- 2-liter bottle, bucket with a lid or glass jar
- 1 cup table sugar
- 2 teaspoons baker’s yeast (you can use wine yeast if you prefer)
- 4 cups of warm water, around 85 degrees—not hotter or it will kill the yeast
Mix and wait #2
Pour all the ingredients into the clean and sterile plastic bottle. Give it a gentle shake and swirl to mix the ingredients thoroughly. Place the lid on the bottle, but do not tighten it. The fermentation process will produce gas and if the gas cannot escape, the bottle will explode. The escaping gas can be pretty stinky so place the bottle near a window or outside on a deck or patio if you can.
The fermentation process will take about a week. When there is no more bubbling, the fermentation process is over and your kilju is ready for the next step.
Strain and drink #3
Your kilju is going to be very grainy immediately after the fermentation which is why you need to strain it before you drink it. You can run it through old pantyhose and into a new jar or use a coffee filter to filter the kilju. You may want to strain it several times to remove the yeast and other particles.
Your kilju is ready to drink at this time. It will have anywhere from a 16 to 20 percent alcohol content, which is pretty stout. In proof terms, this means your kilju is about 40 proof. It isn’t going to taste very good, but you can add some fresh mint leaves or some fruit juice to the alcohol to make it a little easier to go down. Kilju should be stored in a bottle with a lid for up to 7 days maximum.
Check out our guidelines and techniques on how to make sugar to learn more.
Alcohol from fruit juice – Wine
Alcohol is made by fermenting sugars and, if you like a little fruity drink instead of straight alcohol, you can head to the grocery store and pick up some fruit juice to make your own spirits at home. The process is fairly simple and does not require a lot of fancy equipment.
If you have been waiting to learn how to make your own alcohol, wait no further. This recipe is quick and very easy to follow. The fruit juice adds a lot of flavor to the alcohol and can be served with dinner or enjoyed with friends.
Gather the supplies #1
You only need a few supplies, which you can buy online or at a brewer’s store. You can buy the yeast in bulk, which is a nice option if you plan on making more than a single batch. It will save you money as well.
- 1 gallon of 100 percent fruit juice, it can’t be a percentage of juice, no sugar added
- 1 air-lock bubbler
- 1 bottle stopper
- ½ cup cane sugar
- ¼ teaspoon wine yeast
It is a good idea to buy in bulk if this is something you think you want to do with a variety of flavors.
Mixing the drink #2
Open the bottle of juice and pour about half a cup into a glass. Add in the sugar and yeast, tighten the lid and give the juice a good shake. Shake the juice until the yeast and sugar have dissolved.
Pour the juice that is in the cup, back into the bottle. Make sure you leave about 2 inches of head space. Place the cap loosely back on the bottle and set the bottle on a plate or inside a baking dish. This will catch any juice that bubbles out.
Leave the bottle sitting for two days.
Two day shakes #3
After the two days is up, tighten the lid on the bottle. Give it a good shake and put the bottle back on the dish and loosen the lid. Allow the bottle to sit for two days. After the second two days is up, repeat the process. The juice may look funky as it goes through this process. Don’t worry, it will look better by the time it is ready for you to drink it.
Add the air-lock #4
After six days of shaking and waiting, it is time to add the air-lock. Fill the air-lock about halfway with water. Push the stopper into the bottle and then add the air-lock. It should be nice and snug.
More waiting #5
The fermentation process will take anywhere from four to six weeks. Check the air-lock every few days to make sure it is still about half-way filled with water. The water keeps out insects that may be interested in sampling your wine while allowing the gas being produced during the process to escape.
When the bubbling stops and you don’t see anything happening in the air-lock or the bottle, the processed is finished and it is ready for consumption. You can pour your wine into a clean glass bottle and cork it for later use or drink it right away.
Moonshine a.k.a “Corn Whiskey”
One of the oldest forms of homemade alcohol is something known as moonshine. While there are some pros out there that make hundreds of gallons of moonshine at a time, this tutorial is for the average person who just wants to make a little whiskey in the garage. There are hundreds of variations to these recipes. As you get more familiar with the process, you can tweak the method to suit your personal tastes. There is a lot of trial and error as you experiment, but every failure is a learning opportunity.
Moonshine is a little more technical to make then the two methods we covered earlier.
Gather the supplies #1
Moonshine is distilled, which means you will need a still. This can be homemade or you can buy one at the store. It is a lot easier just to buy one and it is not all that expensive, especially if you are going to be using it often.
Your first step is going to be making a mash. The mash is what is going to be fermented and ultimately distilled to make the moonshine. The mash is where you can get creative once you get the process down. It can be tweaked to change the flavor of the moonshine.
- distiller’s yeast
- fermenting container—5-gallon water jug is a nice option if you can’t buy one
- large metal pot
- heat source
Preparing the mash #2
This recipe is super easy, the ingredients are all equal. You can start with a small batch, let’s say five gallons. It is always going to be a 1:1 ratio. This makes it very easy to remember. So, you will need:
- 5 gallons of water
- 5 pounds of sugar
- 5 pounds of cornmeal
Heat the water to 90 degrees. Pour in the cornmeal and stir. Continue to stir to prevent the cornmeal from scalding. Add in the sugar and keep stirring. You can turn off the heat at this point.
Stir the mixture until the sugar has dissolved. If you don’t have a pot that is quite big enough to hold five gallons, you can split the recipe and make two batches of mash. It will all be poured together anyways. No need to make a huge mess if you don’t have to.
Making mash into alcohol #3
The fermentation process is next. Pour the mash into the five-gallon cooler or into another container. You can buy a bucket fermenter. This is generally much easier and you don’t have to worry about fitting an airlock into it correctly. It already comes with the hole needed and in many cases the airlock.
Once you have the mash in the bucket, it is time to add the yeast. You only need 2.5 teaspoons of distiller’s yeast to make your moonshine with this 5-gallon recipe. Use a wooden spoon to stir the yeast in or swirl the bucket to get it mixed in nicely. Place the stopper and airlock into the designated hole on your fermenting bucket.
The waiting game #4
Now, it is all about waiting. You must wait for the fermentation process to be completed. This is usually about 2 weeks of waiting. Once the fermentation process is over, it is done. No more alcohol will be produced if you leave it sitting another week.
You can use a hydrometer to determine whether or not there is still fermentation activity. If you don’t have one, you can usually tell by the amount of bubbling and fizzing happening in the bucket. If all is silent, the process is finished. If there is still some minor fizzing, leave it another day or two and recheck.
Once the fermenting is over, it is time to distil the mash into alcohol. Depending on how well you did, the alcohol percentage will be anywhere from 8 to 20 percent. The distillation process is going to pull that alcohol out of the mash and make it into a nice, clear moonshine.
Hopefully, you bought a still. If you didn’t, you should have constructed one with the help of somebody who knows how. This is a very important step in the process and you don’t want to waste your mash with a still that doesn’t work properly.
- Pour the mash into the still. While you are pouring, do what you can to leave the sediment in the fermenting bucket. You can run the mash through a coffee filter as you pour it into the still to keep out as much of the fine particles of yeast as possible. Old nylons or a fine strainer will also work.
- Seal the lid onto the still. It has to be tight. There is going to be a lot of pressure inside the still and you don’t want the lid blowing off.
- Place a bucket of ice under the condenser. You want it to stay nice and cold and not get heated up during the distillation process.
- Turn on the heat for the still. You want the temperature to be around 185 degrees and no higher than 200 degrees.
- As the still heats up, the first bit of moonshine will be produced. Don’t drink this stuff. If you have made a five gallon batch, you want to toss out the first 7 ounces or so. This is going to be laden with methanol and we all know that is pretty toxic.
- Once the bad stuff has been tossed, you can leave the still alone to do its thing. Monitor the temperature to make sure it is not too hot or too cold.
- When the liquid stops dripping out of the pipe, you are finished!
There are so many variations to this moonshine recipe it is impossible to list them all. Moonshiners have been adding their own special touches for centuries in order to create a unique flavor that brings people back time and again.
The following is a list of some of the variations you can try to change up your moonshine.
- Use feed corn instead of cornmeal
- Use strawberries instead of cornmeal
- Use blueberries
- Use apple cider/apples in place of sugar
- Use rye in place of cornmeal
Making your own alcohol at home is much easier than people think. Of course, it can get very technical and there is a lot of room for error when you try to get fancy. However, these three recipes keep it simple and very basic. All you truly need is yeast, sugar and time. The rest will take care of itself.
Obviously, the alcohol you make at home isn’t going to taste quite as smooth as a bottle of top-shelf stuff you get at the store, but you will soon become accustomed to it. With experience, your alcohol will get there. Now is the time to learn how to make alcohol so you are ready, should there come a time you can’t run to the store to get a bottle.
Do read our article on DIY wine-making at home to give you more options.