LOOKING AROUND the various Facebook Distillers groups it’s easy to see there are plenty of newcomers to the brilliant hobby of home distilling.
We’ve decided to run some basic questions and answers from time to time, hopefully to allow our newcomers to gain a better basic understanding of what’s happening when they get running.
First up, we’ll discuss fermentation…
What is fermentation?
Fermentation occurs when yeast converts sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
What is Yeast?
Yeast is a single cell organism which uses oxygen to multiply.
When the oxygen present in your wash is used up, yeast will turn the sugar present into alcohol.
You need very specialized spirit-specific yeast to make alcohol, for example our recently SOLD OUT Global Express Fast & Clean Distillers Yeast.
Why do we need to use an airlock with our enclosed fermenter?
Yeast’s access to oxygen needs to be controlled carefully. During the first stage of fermentation, known as aerobic fermentation, oxygen is used by the yeast to multiply.
The second (anaerobic) stage happens when the oxygen is exhausted and the yeast uses the sugar as its food source.
It then stops multiplying and starts producing carbon dioxide and alcohol.
In fermentation we produce a sweet mix with nutrients suitable for a very wide range of organisms to thrive.
We then introduce the yeast… the organisim we want to multiply.
Restricting access to other organisms by sanitising all your equipment is vital and you must keep your mix sealed in an air-tight container with an airlock.
No matter how careful you are in cleaning your equipment, some bacteria and unwanted organisms will find their way into your wash.
Yeasts multiply approximately every 2 hours and bacteria every 20 minutes, but when yeasts start to multiply they reduce the ph (increase the acidity) and remove the oxygen.
Both these factors will destroy the bacteria.
For that reason it is essential for good fermentation, to keep everything sanitised and sealed with an airlock and to get the yeast added as soon as possible.
What is an airlock?
An airlock is a simple device which allows carbon dioxide to escape during fermentation while preventing oxygen or other unwanted organisms from entering your wash.
Why is there some sediment formed during fermentation?
During the process of yeast converting sugar into carbon dioxide and alcohol, other byproducts are produced.
These include unfermented solids and dead or dormant yeast cells.
I don’t want to let this article get too long, so I’ll leave it at this point, for now
Until next time… Happy Distilling!