How to Ferment Sugar Wash Effectively
You may not appreciate the value of fermentation if you are still discovering how to moonshine. But the fact is this process is very essential because it plays a big role in achieving the alcohol strength of your spirit. Also, fermentation is a constant process that you wash must undergo before it is subjected to distillation. This is very contrary to the beliefs that a still is all it takes to come up with moonshine. The spread of this myth maybe due to the way early moonshine makers perform fermentation. In the early years, fermentation is usually done in stills boiler. In essence, fermentation is a very significant process because without subjecting your wash into this process, your wash will absolutely end up in a flop. Performing it in a modern fermenter is also the best way to do it.
Basically, the fermentation process when it comes to making moonshine is the step that requires the longest time. But then, it is a very easy step because it can happen on its won without any inputs from the moonshiner. In actuality, the amount of time needed to complete the process depends on the kind of the yeast that you pitch in the fermenter. Once you are already seasoned with making moonshine, you will also notice that there are differences on fermentation times among same kind of yeast from different makers.
Typically, the standard sugar wash recipe of 8kilograms white or raw sugar mixed with 25 liters of plain water will yield a strong brew of 18-20% alcohol as long as the correct type of yeast is used. Thus, selecting yeast with the highest tolerance to alcohol is the key in achieving good alcohol concentration. Out of many varieties, turbo yeast is the best pick because it has a high alcohol tolerance and can act as fast as possible under optimal temperature. Some of the most recommended brands of turbo yeast are the Still Spirits in Samuel Willards that can accomplish fermentation in approximately 48 hours and even less than that. Willards brand is available in 24 hour as well as 48 hour strains. Fermenting wash in a short period of 24 hours is possible using this brand of yeast if you decrease the formula to 6 kilograms sugar to 25 liters of water. This will work perfectly if the temperature is extremely optimal. Using the 24 hour and 48 hour strain will consume a total of 5 days fermentation time given that the formula used in the standard recipe of 8kg to 25 liters water. Over that period, the effects of the yeast taper off and the alcohol concentration shoots up. Some home brewer prefers the 48 hour strain because the flavor is more enhanced. However, in the absence of this strain, the 24 hour variety is absolutely a great alternative.
It should never be a problem as well if you cannot hold of turbo yeast because there are plenty of options where you can choose from. You can visit local home brewer shops and ask what varieties of yeast are available in their store. From this, you can consul which of these is the best alternative for making moonshine. A lot of wine making yeast such as Lalvin EC-1118 have high tolerance to alcohol and can be used as a great replacement. The only drawback in using this kind is that the taste of the finished product can be a little bit different and the fermentation process can be longer. Another thing is that you will have to supplement the wine yeast with nutrients such as turbo yeast originally comes with nutrient packets while wine yeast comes in plain packets. This is because wine yeast contains squashed grapes that include all the necessary components to help the yeast survive. If wine yeast does not yield the results that you want, you may try using a bread making yeast. Yet, you must remember to add nutrient packets as well and be mindful of the fermentation time which can take up to two weeks. You may also modify the formula to 4 kilograms sugar to 25 liters of water if you want to apply this kind of yeast. If you cannot get hold of nutrient packets, it will be enough to crush a handful of sultanas and pitch these in the fermenter and it these will take care of the job.
Going back to the process, you must not have a mixture of sugar and water. With this, you can already add your yeast to the mixture and if it is in liquid form, you must ensure that it has been out of the refrigerator even before you start with creating your wash or it may be shocked with the change in temperature. If you are using dried active yeast, you have to option to just pitch it in the fermenter or dilute it with a cup of water for approximately 15 minutes before you mix it with your wash. Yet, you must remember that the water should have equal temperature with your wash to avoid disturbing the yeast.
Once the yeast has been mixed with the wash, you may close the lid and add water in the airlock to tightly seal the container. You must also be aware that some yeast variety yields more if you keep the lid loose for an hour so that the carbon dioxide can escape the fermenter. The rationale behind this is that the yeast can act faster in an environment full of oxygen. After which, you can seal the fermenter completely and this time the remaining carbon dioxide will escape the container through the air lock.
You will also notice an increase activity a few hours after you pitch in the yeast due to the fact that the yeast is setting and rehydrating itself getting ready to take action. At this stage, you will also see that the airlock is bubbling constantly until all the sugars contained in the wash have been fermented. Typically, the process may take 3 to 14 days depending on the type of yeast that you use. Out of all varieties, bakers yeast has the longest fermentation time which is why this yeast is not recommended at all. Once all the sugars have been fermented, there will be no more alcohol production, no more food for the yeast and carbon dioxide as well which makes the wash ready for distillation.