[Sca-cooks] brewing

Ian Kusz sprucebranch at gmail.com
Sun Jun 22 02:27:12 PDT 2008

On Sat, Jun 21, 2008 at 3:23 AM, Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius <
adamantius1 at verizon.net> wrote:

> On Jun 21, 2008, at 2:57 AM, Ian Kusz wrote:
> Okay, this question is a little silly, but I'm curious.
>> From what I can ascertain, brewers use a special yeast, which is more
>> delicate, and provides a finer taste.
>> 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?
> It would probably be either A) safe or B) so unpalatable as to make safety
> irrelevant for any subject drinker with a tongue. Wild, airborne yeasts are
> unpredictable from place to place, and while it's easy for us to say period
> vintners and brewers did all this randomly, it is rarely the complete truth;
> they knew how to, and did, cultivate and use tested yeast strains. They just
> did it without microscopes, B-Brite, yeast nutrients, etc.
>  And what would it be called?
> Wine made from fruit juice augmented with sucrose or other outside sugar
> source? We're speaking, loosely, of an English-style "country wine", I
> believe. Think about English berry or dandelion wine. Digby, as I recall,
> has  few non-grape, fruit wines with sugar added up to 50% of the total
> fermentable mass: the cherry wine is spectacular but you have to age it a
> while for it to lose that sucrose-ey rocket-fuel taste. The rules are just a
> bit different, is all, from the all-fruit wines of the Continent, since the
> English climate just tends to produce fruit less sweet than in, say,
> southern France, and this type of wine is the natural result for that
> region.
> Obviously, out-gassing is a concern, so you'd have to open the bottle, from
>> time to time.  Or you'd get exploded plastic.
> Purists would object to opening the bottle; once pressurized CO2 is
> released, there's the possibility of airborne contaminants randomly floating
> in, or even being sucked in via negative gas pressure. You'd probably want
> one of those water-filled airlock devices, even if you just had a perforated
> cork with an air hose running down into a bucket of water for gas to burp
> out into. But a brewer's or vintner's airlock, which is basically a small
> curlicue of clear plastic that looks a bit like the u-joint under the sink,
> complete with trap which, in this case, is for holding water until
> compressed gas pushes it temporarily aside, is probably safer and not
> expensive.
> And how would it taste?
> Probably like rocket fuel ;-).
>  But the most important, would it be something that
>> would make people sick?
> Probably not; as I say, if it were so far off the expected wine profile, no
> one would drink enough of it to make them really sick. (I remember, when I
> was new to the SCA, hearing it said of a Well-Known Culinary Personage in
> the Kingdom, that her cooking wasn't dangerous in any pathogenic sense
> because it smelled so bad no one could get a second bite of it into their
> mouth...).
> I'd say at minimum, to do this thing "right" and get a fair chance of what
> Fermented Hawaiian Punch "ought" to taste like, so you can speak with
> authority when your grandchildren ask you, is to get an airlock, transfer
> the juice to a sterilized container, pitch some known yeast variety, ferment
> it until visible bubbling stops, then rack/siphon it off the dregs, and age
> the result for three to six months to remove harsh-tasting by-products of
> fermentation.
> This way you'd have a reasonable shot at knowing if it's awful, it's
> probably the Ocean Spray's fault, and not some unpleasantness introduced by
> you into the process. Not Knowing is an enemy of good sleep.
> Of course, making a really good mead by intent takes about five minutes
> longer than all this...
> Ordinarily I'd say I hope this helps ;-).
> Adamantius
> "Most men worry about their own bellies, and other people's souls, when we
> all ought to worry about our own souls, and other people's bellies."
>                        -- Rabbi Israel Salanter
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Aaaaaahh....a DEFINITIVE answer.  And a checkable reference.  Thank you
much, milord.  So.  Country wine, it is.

And I've heard tell of gins and other drinks that "took the hair off your
tongue," so, the idea make sense, based on what others have said.

Perhaps alchemical testing is called for...alchemists used to use taste to
check stuff.  Apparently, antimony is DELICIOUS. :)  Sorry, a bit of science
history humor.

As far as uncorking causing problems, wouldn't half-untwisting a cap
minimize the problems?  Just enough for co2 to get out....then re-twist.

Obviously, it's not as rigorous as a lab would require, but it might
work...and, again, a batch it didn't work on might be detectable by

Anyway, I'm going to see if there's any way for me to get involved in this
with a minimum of equipment (which I have no place to put)...maybe I'll try
a couple of methods in parallel.

Oh....and, according to one of the brewing books I saw, even private brewing
isn't legal without an inspection of your facilities....is that true?

Ian of Oertha

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