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· Registered
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've heard quite a bit about bartering items during a time of depression or something of the sort. Alcohol has seemed to be a big one that people are interested in. It would be smart to invest in some cheap alcohol now for a later time, I suppose but wouldn't it be even smarter to have the supplies to brew your own beer at home? I haven't really looked into what all it takes but I wanted to get some opinions on my idea from some others. Anybody here know a thing or two about brewing beer at home?

· YourAdministrator, eh?
8,782 Posts
Our sister-site is at - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Community. .. you can find out all kinds of tricks to making your own beer and such there. As for stocking up on alcohol, buy what you would normally drink, just in quantities that you can still easily store. Don't buy "cheap" with the plan that you will barter it away if the SHTF. I work as a bartender in my spare time, so, I am always experimenting with mixes. My own "bar" at home has a couple thousand dollars worth of different hard alcohol's, plus a couple of mini-fridges full of beers and wines.

My stock is rotated fairly frequently - its best to keep it all fresh. If I finish a bottle, I will replace it the next chance I get. I usually buy as large a bottle as I can afford at the time.

· Registered
696 Posts
"Beer" is a relative term...

What was called 'Beer' around my house was actually the mash/malt getting ready to be put into the distiller (still).

Alcohol predates written or pictographic history.

There is speculation that fermented grain may go back farther, to the times pre-dating pottery when grain was stored in animal gut, but none of that animal gut has survived with yeast intact.

Cultures of yeast have been found in vessels that seriously predate any written language, and go back as far a pottery it's self.

Right now, there is a project using yeast cultures found in an Egyptian tomb that go back 5,000 years!

In ancient times, alcohol, either a 'Beer'
(fermented grain concoction)
And later wine
(fermented fruit concoction).

I'm sure the first 'Beer' was nothing more than grain that got wet, naturally occurring yeast was present, and the owners of that particular grain stash noticed that once fermented the 'Beer' wasn't further spoiling.

I'm also equally sure the 'Kick' they got from the contents of that fermented grain made it more palatable once you acquired a taste for it!

The early crude 'Beer' was VERY thick, and about the only way to store grains without rotting or insect infestation.

'Beer' was also one of the ways water was rendered safe to drink in may places.
'Beer' (Alcohol) was mixed with stagnant or contaminated water to render it 'Safe' to drink.

Alcohol treatment of water exists to this day...
The bible references 'Wine Treated Water' and the sailors of old used 'Grog', a mixture of Rum and the stagnated water aboard the ship.

Today, with modern air tight and rodent proof ways to store grains, Canning, freezing, ect. for produce,
And filters/chemicals to purify water, there isn't any hard & fast reason to convert the harvest into alcoholic beverages.

Alcohol is a very viable trading and bartering material,
And it's an INVALUABLE resource for medical treatment!

I lean more towards 'Quart Jars',
But I've got two barrels of black berry wine in the garage basement,
A much smaller batch of dandelion wine fermenting,
And just in case no one knows this anymore, this is the correct season for making 'Stump Water'...
(Like I said, my 'Beer' goes in a distiller!)

If we make 'Proper' whiskey now, it will be ready for consumption in about 7 to 10 years...

And just in case some of the 'Do-Gooders' want to point out that distilling is 'Illegal', they haven't kept up on the law.
Up to 30 Gallons for 'Personal Consumption' is allowed by law now...

· Registered
696 Posts
One of the best tips I can give anyone that is interested in Beer, Wine or Distilled Spirits...

IRON & CHLORINE CITY WATER in particular will inhibit the proper fermentation of your grains or fruits!

Iron (and about any heavy metal) is particularly hard on most yeast cultures!

The chemicals used to treat 'City' water are there SPECIFICALLY to keep things from growing in it, like the YEAST BACTERIA!

If you can find a way to catch clean rain water,
Use Distilled water,
Use a big honkin' water filter that removes all the chemicals that are used to make the water 'Safe' and all the metals that get introduced to the water getting it to your home, then by all means DO IT!

It's actually MUCH cheaper to buy distilled water than to use a Reverse Osmoses water filter for this particular application.
An RO system will reject between 50% and 95% more water than it delivers to the filter tank,
And most of us aren't going to have an RO systems that can deliver 3 to 70 gallons of clean water at a shot.

This isn't a huge deal for 'Skull Buster' whiskey, but for Beers, Wines, Ciders, and aged sippin' whiskey, it's a HUGE deal!

If you are making 'Hard' ciders, or my personal favorite distillate, RUM, try using NATURAL sugar instead of bleached white sugar.
Gives those ciders, cordials and rums a much richer taste.

· Registered
10 Posts

You will spend between $80 and $200 on a Homebrew Starter kit. Just search for one online. The ingredients, for say one 5 gallon batch which is the usual size runs about $30. 5gal of beer is about 52 bottles. You need Hops, Grains, Yeast, Corn sugar, water, and the kit. The brewing process itself takes about 3 hours, it takes a steady fire, which in a pinch could be difficult to arrange in hard times, temperature control, and cleanliness. You have to be super clean! Remember you are intentionally setting up a situatuion in the "wort" that will allow bacteria "yeast" to thrive. Wort by the way is beer before you pitch the yeast. If you live in a hot climate moonshine is much easier than beer and it has more purposes. As a fuel, as a disenfectant, and a drink. Just run a google search for: beer home brewing starter kit, Then check out the recipes. Its fun and costs way less than store bought.

· Registered
696 Posts
Can't tequila or some other alcohols kill bacteria?
Medical uses for Ethel Alcohol are pretty well known,

Vassal Dialator, expands blood vessels,
(that's the 'Warm' or 'Flush' feeling you get when you take a shot)

Pain Killer.
DO NOT use on hemorrhage wounds, will cause excessive bleeding!

Treatment for rashes, bug bites and other 'Weeping' rashes.
Kills most parasites on contact,
Cleans and dries out 'Weeping' rashes like poison ivy.

Kills Germs on contact.
Also burns 'New' skin, kills exposed tissue on contact and retards healing.
Disinfect tools, skin with it, Don't use as a wound flush.

Water Treatment.
Alcohol has long been used to disinfect/treat/sterilize drinking and medical use water.

Clean Fuel for disinfecting 'Medical' tools before you use them. Flame and physical contact with Ethel Alcohol will help to disinfect tools.

· Registered
696 Posts
To use alcohol as a pain killer, what kind of wounds are you talking here?
Orally, (40% or 80 'Proof')
To help someone sleep that is battered or bruised AFTER you were sure the bleeding had stopped and there were no internal injuries.
Broken limbs after the bone had been set and you were sure the bleeders had clotted, about 12 hours after setting a broken bone you should be OK.
Sore muscles from lots of work, a shot or two will help you sleep.

Topically, 50% (100 'Proof'),
Ethel Alcohol works as a topical anesthetic, somewhat numbing surfaces where it comes into contact...
Like holding a shot glass that was about 1/4 or 1/2 full over a cut or skin puncture (after the blood has clotted) to numb down the area for stitches.
Ice would actually work better and would have less side effects, but if Alcohol was all you had.

Alcohol and water mix (about 50/50, or 100 'Proof' will help evaporation and cool skin in the event of fevers.

What is an instance where you would use it on new skin?
Burns, wide open cuts, ect.
If you have to use it as an antiseptic in the event of broken skin that hasn't closed or clotted,
Water it down to about 20% (40 'Proof') with clear water and use it sparingly.

What other kind of rashes besides Poisen Ivy?
Any kind of rash that 'Weeps' or is reactive to heat.
'The old 'Heat Rash' can be treated with nothing more than watered down alcohol,

Hives come to mind.
I'm allergic to bee stings, and I get the hives something awful.
A weak alcohol/water mixture evaporates off the skin very quickly and give a real cooling effect, plus the alcohol helps stop the histamine reaction in the skin, shrinking the 'Hives' rash.

Any rash that is caused by something on the skin.
Alcohol is a powerful solvent, and it will remove the offending substance VERY EFFICIENTLY!
That's why it's so great with Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, Poison Sumac, ect.
Not only does the Alcohol clean the offending substance off the skin,
It cools the skin,
Disinfects the skin where the blisters/bumps are,
Works as a mild anesthetic,
Slows the histamine reaction,
Dries out any 'Welts' or 'Blisters' on the skin...
And if you have ever had a REALLY bad case of poison ivy, you KNOW what I'm talking about when I say 'Welts' or 'Blisters'!

Something else that comes to mind,
A 10% mix of Alcohol, 10% mix of White Vinegar, and 80% clean water make a GREAT ear cleaner for after you have been swimming!
If you know a kid with frequent ear infections, or someone that gets 'Swimmers Ear' often, you might pass that on.
'Wood Alcohol' or grain alcohol will work for that too.

How it works is,
Alcohol, 10 or even 20% will dry out the ear canal.
10% acidic vinegar will make a most inhospitable place for bacteria to live!
Works great and I use it after scuba diving, since when you scuba, the water is often forced into the middle ear under pressure, and there it will stagnate and create an infection if you don't treat it.
Haven't had 'Swimmers Ear' since I started using the 10/10/80% mix, not one time!

Small sips of high 'Octane' (50% or 100 'Proof') followed by a quick, deep breath will knock loose mucus in the bronchial tubes.
The 'Rattling Chest' and 'Goober' that won't move from the back of your throat... A little in the mouth, just enough to vaporize, then inhale sharply, and I guarantee you WILL hack that crap up!

Like I've said before, it's a powerful solvent and astringent (crud cutter), and that goes for 'Bio Crud' too!

And everyone should know about the 'Hot Toddie' when you are stuffed up, achey, shaky and generally miserable.
Just not feeling good with a cold or flu and congestion.
A shot or two in hot cider with cinnamon or mint and sugar will make you feel MUCH better, and will help you sleep.

First, the alcohol and hot water/cider in the drink will help knock loose the mucus so you breathe better,
Alcohol on the back of the throat will work as an anesthetic and help with the raw/scratchy feeling,
It also works as an antiseptic so if you have raw, inflamed throat, it will kill of MILLIONS of the bacteria or viruses in the back of your throat on the way down!,
The alcohol absorbed in the blood stream will open capillarities on the skin, so you feel warmer and/or less feverish,
Cinnamon or Mint will help keep your stomach from getting upset from strong drink and the mucus drainage that is headed that way,
Alcohol in the gut will kill off MILLIONS more of the bacteria or virus that are working on you, maybe shortening the length, or decreasing the viral load in your body so the symptyoms lighten up and the 'Flu' isn't so severe!...
And finally, alcohol relaxes you so you can sleep.

AND, A lot of people say they won't drink 'Booze',
Or they won't give alcohol to kids,
But if you take a look at the ingredients closely on the 'Cold Remedy' bottles, you will find they are up to 40% alcohol! (80 'Proof', same as most vodka & whiskey sold in this country!)

Take an aspirin or other OTC pain reliever with your 'Hot Toddie' and you just out preformed that expensive, nasty tasting crap from the store!

The ONLY warning I have for you is,
That is just BRUTAL hard on your liver!

· Registered
1 Posts
I actually am a lifetime member of the HBT ( website. I'll first let you know that "brewing" is not cheap in anyway shape or form. Yes you can go to the supply store and get a kit that will get you started. However, if you would like to get set up for a rig that would brew in uncertain times you have some other things to consider:

You must have the ability to store yeast for long terms - this means refrigeration.

You must have the knowledge of Malting and malting control - this is critical to creating the enzymes needed in the mash (converting starch to sugar)

You must have the ability to bottle the stuff - which means the methods of sterilization.

I cannot speak to producing hard liquor (because that would be unlawful...) even though it's just one or two more steps after brewing.

Long story short is, in a world torn by war or uncertainty, beer may not be your thing.... but if you've got a constant supply of clean water, malted barley, fresh hops, and a good ale yeast... beer can be very popular.

· Registered
63 Posts
you left out the huge amount of fuel for distilling. Like wood or LP that should be saved for heating. My plan is to run the still 2x a year and make 20-30 gallons. Since I won't be drinking I plan to use dandelions in spring and summer and cattails in the fall. ton of labor there!!!

· Scavenger deluxe
7,453 Posts
Beginner's Homemade Beer Recipe

Obtain a 3 gallon container in which to conduct the primary fermentation. It should be constructed of a material that will not leech out toxic chemicals in the presence of alcohol. It should have a lid to keep bugs from getting in but which will allow carbon dioxide gas to escape. I use a plastic garbage can with a faucet at the bottom and a lid with an airlock at the top (available from beer supply stores).

Pour in about 1.5 lb of hop-flavoured malt extract (most economically obtained at grocery stores). For strong beer, add about 6 cups of sugar. Optionally, add about 2 tsp of fruit acid (if you are making a low alcohol beer, the acid helps retard spoilage - which should not be necessary if you drink it all up as fast as I do). Any fruit acid will do; I have used citric, which is cheap. Lemon juice could be used. Do not use ascorbic acid, it will retard the fermentation. A tsp of di-ammonium-phosphate (yeast nutrient, fertilizer) will speed the fermentation, especially in high-alcohol beers, but is not necessary.

Now, add water, 60-90 degrees Fahrenheit, up to a few inches below the top of your container. Do not fill it too full, or the fermenting mess will come out. Stir it all up thoroughly. If you have a beer hydrometer, (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) check the specific gravity. It should be about 1.06, corrected for temperature. I suggest you buy a floating thermometer so you can correct for temperature. A beer hydrometer will also tell you what the alcohol content will be in the finished brew. The more sugar, the denser the liquid will be now (higher specific gravity) and the more alcohol the yeast will make. Six cups of sugar will give you about 7% alcohol (most commercial beer in the US is about 3.5%). Do not go above 9 or 10%, or you will kill the yeast and end up with a sweet, uncarbonated beverage. Also, do not drink 7% beer like 3.5% beer and don't drive after drinking a pint or more! If using a hydrometer, it is best to start out with less sugar than you think you will need and then adjust the specific gravity by adding more.

Now you are ready to add the yeast. I use dry yeast, available in beermaking supply stores. You could use bread yeast, but I don't recommend it. It gives the beer a yeasty taste and does not stand up to high alcohol contents. If you can't wait to get beer yeast, wild yeast (bound to be there unless you used sterilized ingredients) may do for low alcohol beer. If you have already made beer before, the sediment from the bottom of a freshly opened bottle contains enough yeast to start your new batch. Add the yeast, put the top on the container, place in a warm place (70-90 degrees F), and wait a week or two.

If you have a hydrometer, you may want to monitor the specific gravity. When it drops to 1.005, it is ready to bottle. I let the beer go to draught, when the fermentation (bubbling) stops entirely - no sugar left. At that point, the specific gravity will be a bit below 1.000 (alcohol being less dense than water). I "rack" the beer at this point, that is, siphon (or use faucet) it off of the inch or so of yuck at the bottom of the container. I rack it into a second 3 gallon container with faucet.

At this point, you need to add more sugar for the secondary fermentation, which carbonates the beer (and raises the alcohol content yet more). I use about 10 tbsp sugar. Start with less and check the gravity. You want the gravity to be 1.005. Be sure to correct the gravity for temperature (instructions with the hydrometer will tell you how). DO NOT allow the gravity to exceed 1.005! If there is too much sugar, your bottled beer will EXPLODE, which could be FATAL (I'm not kidding - I've seen exploding bottles drive pieces of glass through wooden cabinets!). Now, bottle the beer (use siphon or faucet). Do not use disposable bottles, they can't stand the pressure and are dangerous. I use one pint returnable soft drink bottles which I collected while they were still in common use. You can buy similar bottles from stores that sell beer making supplies. You need bottle caps and a capper. Alternatively, use the European beer bottles which have reusable caps and don't require a capper. Keep the beer at 70-90 degrees F. in a safe place for a week or so. Then put one bottle in the refrigerator. When cold, give it a try to see if it is adequately carbonated yet. If not, let the rest of the beer ferment in the bottles a few days longer. It yes, move it all into the refrigerator (I got a second refrigerator to hold all of my beer).

When you pour the beer out of the bottle (don't drink from the bottle), do it in one continuous movement. Watch the crud (spent yeast, cream of tartar) at the bottom of the bottle and stop pouring before it comes out. While there are lots of B vitamins in this crud, it looks nasty, does not taste good, and is a mild laxative (generates flatus too). This crud is not in commercial US beer because they artificially carbonate their beer. They also add all sorts of chemicals - detergent to make a head, for example. By the way, soft drinks can still legally contain 0.5 % alcohol, because that is the amount produced during a natural carbonation fermentation, as used to be done by the industry.

Cheap folks who refuse to buy a beer hydrometer can use this alternative method: Put the draught beer (no sugar left, fermentation completely stopped) into bottles and add sugar to the bottles. Use 0.5 to 1 tsp per bottle (12 to 16 oz), or use 0.5 tbsp of a 50% sugar solution (one cup sugar in one cup water). I do not recommend this method, given the great danger of explosion, great frustration of an undercarbonated batch, and cheap price (about $4 and up) of a hydrometer.

Keep your bottles, containers, etc. clean to avoid microorganisms that cause spoilage (you don't want 3 gal. of malt vinegar, do you?). Some folks routinely sterilize equipment with boiling water or chemicals, but I find that unnecessary except after having had a spoilage problem.

There are various laws regulating homemade beer production. An adult can make 100 gal. (200 per household) a year under federal law. I used to register as a wine producer with the Dept. of Firearms, Tobacco, & Alcohol, but I don't bother anymore, the law may not even require that any more. N. C. State law is fuzzy (says you must use native N. C. fruits). In any case, if you keep it at home, don't sell it, and don't give it away to narcs (alchs?, revenuers), you should not get in any trouble.

· O_o
40 Posts
Any sort of distillation is illegal in most countries. Ostensibly it's to protect you from going blind :rolleyes: but it's really because the gov't doesn't get their cut of the taxes on the alcohol sale. The process to make it is the same as beer so it isn't any easier to make, plus you'd have to distill it. Hard cider or apfelwein is much easier to make, it's just apple juice and cider and sugar. You can freeze it to concentrate it, but that's also illegal as it's called fractional distillation.

· Woodchuck
3,430 Posts
Howdy folks,

Home brewing doesn’t have to be as hard as some folks make it out to be. Now, before y’all go off on me let me explain.

I’ve made lots of wine, there’s not much I haven’t fermented. I also run a copper pot, and take what isn’t up to par and concentrate it. I’ve fermented my share of grains also to concentrate. Never made beer, don’t care for it, so can not testify first hand as to the difficulty. But for basic fermenting, as long as a few basic principles are followed you are good to go with the process being successful. Now, what the end result tastes like is a different matter and take a bit of skill and practice!

Cleanliness is number 1. You need to make sure there is no contamination in any of your equipment. I haul my gear down to the creek and wash with baking soda, never had an issue. If you don’t happen to have a creek, you need to have an area with a big sink and room enough to clean all your gear.

Plenty of room. I don’t care if it is a 5 gallon pail of peaches or a 50 gallon barrel of corn, you need some dedicated space for the process. You have cleaning, racking/siphoning, straining, cutting, bottling… Sure you can do a small batch on the kitchen counter but it is hard to move around a container full of fermenting wine and all the related paraphernalia.

Equipment. There are lots of things you should have but also lots of ways to work around them. Regardless, it takes stuff and you need a place to keep it and use it and clean it.

Containers. You need 5 gallons worth of bottling for that 5 gallon batch of peach (ok technically less but you get the point). If you are making more than one batch (and you will have many going at a time) you need enough for them all. What I mean by many going is including ones that are already bottled and not consumed.

Back to the original question, barter. You betcha, it’s a great item to have around and even better skill to have in your arsenal. As far as what YOU will eventually need, I would suggest buying one of the many starter kits and try a batch. This way you will know if it even something you are interested in pursuing. Making wine is not for everyone.

For buying cheap booze to have and barter with? Don’t do it. You don’t want your new barter group knowing you as the keeper of horrible hangovers. Invest the time to learn fermentation and enjoy the process. You will end up with a quality product that will get much more in barter for your efforts. Now, keeping a bottle of rotgut around for first aid and sterilization fine.

- Woody
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