[Sca-cooks] brewing

Volker Bach carlton_bach at yahoo.de
Sat Jun 21 01:15:30 PDT 2008

--- Ian Kusz <sprucebranch at gmail.com> schrieb am Sa, 21.6.2008:

> But....what if you had a fruit beverage....(something like
> Ocean Spray,
> which is chock-full of sugars, or a fruit cocktail with
> pure sugar in it)
> and let it ferment from yeast in the air?  Would the
> resultant...uh...mess
> be safe to administer to humans?  And what would it be
> called?
> Obviously, out-gassing is a concern, so you'd have to
> open the bottle, from
> time to time.  Or you'd get exploded plastic.
> And how would it taste?  But the most important, would it
> be something that
> would make people sick?

This is purely from a theoretical POV - I don't brew myself - but AFAIK you would have to be very unlucky to actually poison yourself this way. As long as your mix does not exceed a certain very high sugar content, it will ferment (yeast can not survive in extreme environments, IIRC somewhere around 85% sugar, which is why honey and syrup do not ferment unless diluted). Most natural yeasts will create alcohol from sugar with no problem. I've had it happen to jam that sat around waiting to be cooked and canned for a few hours on humid summer days (then again, I live close to an industrial brewery, so I'm at elevated risk). 

If you shut the material off in bottles after the fermentation starts, that should reduce the risk of getting nasty germs joining the mix later on. Of course you could easily already have caught some of those when you harvested airborne yeasts, but the risk increases over time. If you simply heat the bottles before serving, that should take care of most of them. It's still not a particularly safe approach, but hardly suicidal. A friend of mine brews mead with natural cultures and he gets good results about 90% of the time. 

No matter how much sugar you add, the alcohol content will not rise above a certain level. The exact point depends on your yeast culture, but no yeast can survive in much more than IIRC 15% by volume of alcohol content. If your ferment in bottles, you might also get a sparkling result. What you want to watch out for is the acetic acid that develops. With so much sugar and such a long process, you might get an undrinkably sweet-sour fruit sauce (or an excellent fruit vinegar, if you are lucky). The cultures for vinegar making are just as airborne as those for brewing. 

Personally, of course, I wouldn't drink it, but then. I don't drink alcoholic beverages anyway. It sounds like a fun experiment, though. 


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