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Old 07-04-2019, 08:24 PM   #11
Terebrant
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Default Re: Post apocalypse alcohol

I agree with all pointing how easily it happens, but it seems like the question is about getting drunk, not calories or perceived safety.


So, fermentation will be used but yeasts with more than around 5% ethanol tolerance may not be easily available. Stills (I would have considered a reflux still as a good compromise between content and complexity) seems the best solution to me to get a strong drink from agricultural sources. Another possibility might be to use petrochemicals again but it would require some infrastructure.

Depending on how much technology progressed before the end, cellulosic ethanol might be doable on a decent scale.
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Old 07-05-2019, 11:04 AM   #12
malloyd
 
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Default Re: Post apocalypse alcohol

There's two different components of that. What do the locals call it, and what would a pre-apocalyptic connoisseur tasting it think it was. In the later case, it's probably almost all "horrible rotgut". Most of the fine distinctions people now make are hard to tell apart in pre-industrial products, let alone ones made by non-specialists with scavenged gear.

It should be possible to distinguish between brewed from grain/starch "beer", brewed from fruits "wine", and run through a still "spirits", but I wouldn't count on much more than that. Yes there is some fine craft production at low TLs that will produce distinctive products with something like batch to batch consistency, but that's in a stable low TL society, not a post-apocalypse.
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Old 07-05-2019, 11:40 AM   #13
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Default Re: Post apocalypse alcohol

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Originally Posted by namada View Post
Beer, these days, is usually assumed to contain Barley/Hops/Water/Yeast & sometimes other ingredients, but historically, any fermented grain is beer.
There's an important subtlety here BTW. The reason you use barley is that it contains *lots* of the enzymes that will convert starch into sugar. This is something you *must* do before yeast can ferment your grain (or other starch crop). There are ways to do this other than using barley enzymes (Japanese rice fermentation uses a mold (koji, Aspergillus oryzae) which is allowed to grow in the polished rice for a while, and any grain will convert *some* of the starch to sugar as the seeds sprout - that's what the starch is there for in the first place, to store sugar for the sprouting plant to grow) but it's not like fruit juice where you can get noticeable amounts of alcohol out if it just by letting it stand (the sugars are already available and there are yeasts (though not the "right" ones) growing naturally on fruit skins).
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Old 07-05-2019, 01:06 PM   #14
Flyndaran
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Default Re: Post apocalypse alcohol

And then there's always using human amylase for some forms of Chicha or "spit beer".
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Old 07-05-2019, 07:39 PM   #15
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Default Re: Post apocalypse alcohol

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terebrant View Post
I agree with all pointing how easily it happens, but it seems like the question is about getting drunk, not calories or perceived safety.


So, fermentation will be used but yeasts with more than around 5% ethanol tolerance may not be easily available. Stills (I would have considered a reflux still as a good compromise between content and complexity) seems the best solution to me to get a strong drink from agricultural sources. Another possibility might be to use petrochemicals again but it would require some infrastructure.

Depending on how much technology progressed before the end, cellulosic ethanol might be doable on a decent scale.
With rural areas, the problem isn't getting the yeast that will give you 5%, it's getting ONLY the yeasts that don't do other strange things to the flavor profile.

It only took a few years for the California settlers to develop multiple specific varietal yeasts for different purposes. San Francisco Sourdough is pretty much the wild yeast of 1850 San Francisco... due to climate and land-use changes, the wild yeasts in SF are no longer those...

Without refrigeration, almost any juice has a shelf life of a couple days in summer before wild yeasts start fermenting it. Wine is inevitable. Honey is used for multiple purposes, but is a byproduct of medieval farming... the bees are needed for the fertilization, and

Beekeeping and mead-making were more universal than beer... for a gallon of mead, you need about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of honey. And beekeeping dates to about the same time as Egyptian beer...

Saint Joseph Abbey, in Loisianna, gets 70 gallons a year off 20 hives... sustainably. Their website: saintjosephabbey.com
THey have some interesting notes on it.
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Old 07-05-2019, 09:43 PM   #16
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Default Re: Post apocalypse alcohol

Vodka is traditionally made from starches (potatoes or grain) but can be made from pretty much any carbohydrate. Everything that makes wine, beer, mead, etc. different from one another is filtered out. Some vodka even comes from processed wood pulp.
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Originally Posted by ak_aramis View Post
Without refrigeration, almost any juice has a shelf life of a couple days in summer before wild yeasts start fermenting it. Wine is inevitable. Honey is used for multiple purposes, but is a byproduct of medieval farming...
Do note that honey will not ferment naturally, as it is basically pure sugar and is very inhospitable to microbes. You have to water it down to allow for fermentation.
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Old 07-05-2019, 09:45 PM   #17
namada
 
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Default Re: Post apocalypse alcohol

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Originally Posted by malloyd View Post
There's an important subtlety here BTW. The reason you use barley is that it contains *lots* of the enzymes that will convert starch into sugar. This is something you *must* do before yeast can ferment your grain (or other starch crop).
I know. I'm a home brewer - you too?

I ignored the point because, well, people will find a way. As Flyndaran mentioned - 'spit beer' plus the various ways you mentioned. Simply put, if there's a grain to ferment, it will be fermented. Wild yeasts are floating in the air everywhere & I don't recall any of them being dangerous.
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Old 07-06-2019, 01:18 AM   #18
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Default Re: Post apocalypse alcohol

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Originally Posted by RyanW View Post
Vodka is traditionally made from starches (potatoes or grain) but can be made from pretty much any carbohydrate. Everything that makes wine, beer, mead, etc. different from one another is filtered out. Some vodka even comes from processed wood pulp.

Do note that honey will not ferment naturally, as it is basically pure sugar and is very inhospitable to microbes. You have to water it down to allow for fermentation.
Actually, honey is NOT pure sugar. (more like 80-90% overall, counting the water), water being second, but over a hundred other chemicals, including dozens of enzymes, are present. Some of which are anti-microbial; the desiccating effects of the supersaturated syrup also is anti-microbial, so there's a double-whammy there. Further, most people think Sucrose... Honey largely lacks sucrose, instead being mostly fructose and glucose, but several other sugars may also be present.

To make mead, just add water to honey, mix into a single consistency, and add yeast, and wait. 2 lbs to 5 gallons is just barely fermentable... it's not the sugar, but the enzymatic content that requires further dilution.
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Old 07-06-2019, 02:52 AM   #19
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Default Re: Post apocalypse alcohol

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Originally Posted by ak_aramis View Post
To make mead, just add water to honey, mix into a single consistency, and add yeast, and wait. 2 lbs to 5 gallons is just barely fermentable... it's not the sugar, but the enzymatic content that requires further dilution.
Especially in a post apocalyptic setting - but also in the real world - you don‘t even need to add yeast; wild fermentation is a thing.
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Old 07-06-2019, 09:29 AM   #20
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Especially in a post apocalyptic setting - but also in the real world - you don‘t even need to add yeast; wild fermentation is a thing.
But it generally leads to more of that horrible rotgut. There are a lot of different yeasts and other microorganisms out there that will be happy to grow in your solution and produce all kinds of stuff in addition to (or instead of) ethanol and carbon dioxide. Sometimes you want this - the aforementioned fungi that break down starches, or the lactobacteria in sourdough cultures - but if you are going for a specific flavor, you need a rather specific set of microorganisms. Sure you could toss a pinch of sourdough starter in your barrel and the product will contain ethanol, but....
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