Artwork for Sampath Top - April 2018

Home Brew

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The process of converting sucrose into ethanol is fascinating. Inducing yeast to transform sugar into alcohol is one of my favorite past times. Few things pass a weekend afternoon brewing beer and making mead. Upon arriving in Sri Lanka, I was introduced to treacle, and I am happy to report that this golden-brown syrup makes an excellent base for wine.

Making wine at home is a relatively easy process, but great attention must be paid to cleanliness. A quick trip to Food City will get you started; all you need are a few ingredients:

· A vessel (glass bottles are best, but a 1.5L soda bottle will suffice)

· Bleach

· A small bottle of treacle (370 ml)

· Yeast (while brewer’s yeast is best, Mauirpan’s bread yeast will do the trick)

· Cinnamon sticks

· Filtered water

· Raisins (or dried plums)

· One balloon

Clean your vessel with water and bleach; be sure to rinse it properly. Allow it to air dry. Add the entire contents of your treacle into the bottle, along with 12 raisins and one cinnamon stick. At this point you should add in half a packet of bread yeast (six grams), and fill the container with water – stopping about an inch before the top. Place the cap on the container and shake it for five to ten minutes.

While shaking you will notice that the yeast is coming to life, and starting to make the beverage cloudy. After ten minutes, remove the cap and place a balloon over the top of the bottle. Poke a small hole in the balloon so that pressure can be released. The balloon is important because it will allow pressure out of the bottle, without allowing oxygen in – this forces the yeast to convert the sugar to alcohol. The raisins are necessary because they act as a conditioner for the yeast. The cinnamon is for flavoring (feel free to try adding spices such as orange, cardamom, or ginger).

You should place your bottle in a dark space for one to two weeks. Once the balloon looks deflated for several days the alcoholic fermentation process is over. At this point you can drink it, or strain it and place the contents in another vessel to age. Either way, be sure to discard the layer of yeast in the bottom. Drinking the yeasty part of the brew is unpleasant, but a great cure of constipation. The drink will be alcoholic after a week or two, but it will likely take several months of aging to become more palatable.

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