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Brewing - Cheapest source of sugar?

Discussion in 'Alcohol' started by Mammon, Feb 21, 2009.

  1. Mammon

    Mammon Silver Member

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    O.K. SWIM is busy producing alcohol, both brewing and distilling, and was wondering if the experienced producers here know of the cheapest way to get the sugar for fermenting.

    He guesses the best way is from grains, but that brings with it the hassle of mashing, sparging, etc. SWIM can’t afford to get a mash tun at the moment. Has anyone got any secrets for getting the cost of the ingredients down or a quick and easy way of getting it from grains? Is that enzyme amylase any use?

    The price of sugar at the local supermarket is 80p / kg.
     
  2. Potter

    Potter Platinum Member & Advisor

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    amylase is useful. In making chicha, you chew up the corn and spit it out so the saliva starts the digestion process.

    You can always supplement refined sugar, white can do in a pinch but less processed varieties will produce more flavor (don't use molasses, it's just gross when fermented)

    You could try growing your own grain. A plot the size of a pool table will do for a batch of beer. You don't even really need to process it more then maybe crushing it up. Take a few handfuls of viable seeds and scatter them about a field. You could even do this at an empty lot. Grains are simply grasses and hardly take much care at all, in the city most of their predators won't be an issue. For the cost of a pound of seeds, it's hardly a loss if you loose half the crop.
     
  3. bcubed

    bcubed Gold Member

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    Lizard always thought that, everywhere but the US (i.e. anyplace that doesn't embargo Cuban cane sugar), table sugar is the cheapest.

    In the US, it's corn (excepting, mind you, feed-grade molasses, which is every bit as bad as Potter says--once you distill it, good luck cleaning that stench out of your still!)

    I'm not sure what farming culture is like in the UK, but in the US, if one lives in a rural area, feed corn can be picked up cheaply. Lizard has never had anyone say anything about buying 20# or so, even though he hardly looks like a farmer! City dwellers can look for discounts on produce from time to time.

    Incidentally, the cost of sugar is super cheap, compared to store-bought booze...half of that kg sugar gets turned into ethanol, which represents ~600ml of 100 proof/50% ABV booze after distilling losses. 80p sounds preety damn cheap!
     
  4. geezaman

    geezaman Gold Member

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    SWIM would answer this with bulk purchase. Just depends how much SWIY wants as to what saving they can make. A cash and carry may be SWIYs best option, either registering yourself or persuading an already registered friend to do a price check for you.
    Peace
    Geezaman
     
  5. Potter

    Potter Platinum Member & Advisor

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    Oh lord, didn't even consider distilling to rum. Nobody's had the results of primary fermentation and khombucha brewing experiments that involved molasses and those alone were bad enough. Considering how thick it is, would hate to imagine THAT mess.

    Though nobody loves rum.... it would be nice to make some rum.

    Might try asking a local baker if you could go through them and get into 50lb bags...

    oh yeah PRICE DISCUSSION!!! OH NOES! We all gonna get banned!
     
  6. Jupiter

    Jupiter Mercury Member

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    What you want is corn sugar. (Frutrose) I recently bought 50lbs. for $32. It has almost no residue aftertast. Try health food stores.Or midwest brew supplies on line. You can use cane sugar, but I would avoid sugar made from beets. Honey gives a nice taste. If you distill, all impurities are removed. I brew my own beer, and make wine. Havn't bought any at a store in ages.
     
  7. Potter

    Potter Platinum Member & Advisor

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    Jupiter: Do you find the honey requires more aging? We've done a few things using honey and they've had a vomit like after taste (and even stringer breath smell) for the first few months after secondary fermentation is complete. Or maybe you have some sort of secret trick to make short run meads?
     
  8. develex

    develex Newbie

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    hey be patient ... if you distill the wine which is made by sugar then you should say good bye to your eyes ... I've heard that sugar has some chemicals in it and when you distill the wine, those chemicals will remain !

    you should use honey or other natural things...
     
  9. Potter

    Potter Platinum Member & Advisor

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    Sorry develex, but that's simply not true.

    There alcohols that form during distillation, but they come from things other then sugar. There's plenty on it, so we don't need to get into scare stories here.
     
  10. develex

    develex Newbie

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    I'm not sure @ the moment ... Just I've heard it from the most experienced person in this field that I know (of course there is a possibility that he's wrong)
    Only he said if you're going to use potato to make your wine you can use sugar ... otherwise you have to use honey !
    Again I'd make a research:)
     
  11. bcubed

    bcubed Gold Member

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    Develx, I can second what potter said.

    Very small amounts of toxic co-products (most significant methanol) can be made when fermenting, particularly sources high in pectin (i.e. fruit). These co-products are not harmful at the levels present (though they are thought to exacerbate hangovers a bit--ever heard of a "red wine hangover?")

    All distillation does is concentrate the alcohol--it doesn't "create" new chemicals. A good distillation practice would be to toss out the first and last amounts collected, but that's chiefly to improve the taste of the finished product.

    The (true) stories about folks dying as a result of methanol poisoning mostly date from US prohibition, when unscrupulous distillers would add methanol and other non-potables as "cutting agents" to disguise the strength of the product.
     
  12. Potter

    Potter Platinum Member & Advisor

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    Ahhh.. pectin! Couldn't remember where those came from.

    And since sugar has no pectin, it is probably the safest to distill, you know, if you're really paranoid.

    Don't take this wrong, there are still plenty of dangers in distilling, explosions being the big one, but the vast majority of dangers come from unsavory practices. Heavy metal contamination from cheap still making and adding poisons to finish the product faster.

    Modern homebrewing and distilling is safer then ever. With countless books and websites on the subject, the amateur has access to pretty much everything there is to know about the process. With the ease of availability, and accuracy, of modern equipment, guesswork is virtually eliminated. Of course you do need to read all that info, but it's all out there.
     
  13. Sven99

    Sven99 Palladium Member

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    Fermenting grains is alot more effort and usually more expensive than just using sugar. 80p per kilo is the cheapest you'll usually be able to get, but keep in mind that a kilo of sugar will produce the equivalent alcohol amount as a litre of vodka.

    Use other options for taste (this swimmer's froggy is especially fond of using honey), but for cheapness supermarket sugar is the best option. Grains or potatoes, even wholesale, will cost you more per unit of alcohol as they will produce only 20-50% fermentable sugar by weight, and will require mashing with malted barley, which is alot more expensive than sugar.

    And unless you are distilling don't worry about 'toxic impurities' - its all scaremongering rubbish. Even if you are distilling you don't want to worry too much. The worst you could do is make nasty rotgut moonshine that gives a killer hangover - unless you're distilling meths or something, which is a realy bad idea.

    And don't ever spit in something you plan on brewing. For starters its gross. And secondly saliva doesn't contain all the needed enzymes anyway so it wont work. If you are using a starch bases you will need to mash it with malted barley, which contains the necessary enzymes for breaking down the starches into sugars.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2009
  14. bcubed

    bcubed Gold Member

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    Oh, I just wanted to update this by saying...Lizard took a drive out to the "country" this eve, and picked up a 50lb. bag of corn! Needless to say what sort of tomfoolery he's up to!

    Oh, and they asked if he was "tax exempt"...suppose if Lizard were a farmer, he could get out of the sales tax!:laugh: