The opportunity has arrived with recent new developments in yeast technology to brew half strength (20% ABV Swedish Style Vodka Spirit) as easily as making home brew beer or wine.
I am currently developing this new and exciting fermenting talent with the help and advice of my friends at Balliihoo Homebrew in Cheddar Somerset. The top homebrew supplier in the UK, using simple, inexpensive and basic homebrew equipment, just like making a large pot of tea, but more interesting! I am looking forward to experimenting with the finished product in 2-3 weeks. 25 litres of virtually tasteless, colourless and totally clear Swedish Vodka type spirit for the pleasurable purpose of fortifying wines or adding various essences and flavourings to transform it into quality Vodka, Whisky, Gin, Rum and many other spirits and liqueurs.
Can it be used neat? I hear you ask......Yes, of course it can! Down the hatch in one or mixed with soft drinks such as Coke or Orange Juice, but is ideal as a half strength base for the production of a variety of spirits and liqueurs by the addition of essences.
Thoroughly clean, sterilise and rinse all equipment to be used.
Add 8-10 Litres of hot water (About 70°C) to the fermenter
Add all the 7.5Kg of Brewing Sugar.........Yes it looks a lot to a seasoned beer brewer or wine maker! and stir in until completely dissolved.
Top up with cold water to the 25 Litre (5 Gallon) mark, stir well and wait until the temperature is between 20°C and 24°C.
Next, check the hydrometer reading, which sould be around 1100 (this is your OG Original Gravity) before adding the yeast.
Add and lightly stir in the yeast, almost immediately and effervescent reaction will occur.
Place the lid with airlock on the fermenter and note the LCD Temperature Indicator reading which you should aim to keep between 18°C and 28°C (ensure the temperature does not go below 18°C) if the temperature does go below this you should consider a heating belt or similar. The fermentation can be surprisingly lively for the first couple of days.
Now Just sit back and wait, listening to the gentle bubbling one way conversation coming from the airlock, all the time checking the temperature stays within its range, as fermentation slows so will airlock activity, towards the end of fermentation you should always check surface activity and take hydrometer readings to ensure fermentation is complete, when you have a steady reading over 2 consecutive days (around 995 or below is good) then your ferment is finished (this is usually anywhere between 4-6 days) do not worry if it is a little longer.
The mixture will appear like a milky soup.....Don't Panic! Carefully rack off the liquid to a sterilised bucket leaving the sediment behind but don't be too fussy, a little sediment may find it's way into the second fermenter, but that's OK!
Now this is where the fun begins! Add the sachet of Activated Carbon to the Milky Base Spirit Vodka. Massage the plastic sachet to loosen the black active carbon within, pour in the entire contents and stir well......Again Don't Panic! It looks like a frightening mistake and certainly not atheistically pleasing! The entire brew goes jet black and looks worse than heavy cloud storms over Chernobyl!
Stir Gently a further 3 times over the next 24 hours and then leave to settle for a further 48 hours as instructed on the packet.
Carefully Rack Off (Siphon) the black base Vodka spirit mixture into your sterilised fermenter (bucket 2), being careful to avoid drawing up any thick sediment, which will be about 10mm deep.
Now, as with wine, de-gassing just before Finings are added will help the clearing process, so vigorously stir to remove Co2 or shake if your 2nd container is a sealed container such as a Wine Fermenter with solid cap, alternatively use a Wine Whip degasser if you have one.
Take the Alcotec 24 Turbo Klar sachet "A", cut off the corner and pour the contents into the mix, stir gently and leave for 1-2 hours
Add sachet "B" and gently stir and leave to clear for 24-48 hours.
Now rack off to a sterilised fermenter for a third time, at this point you should decide if your Vodka is clear enough for the desired use. If you are using it as a wash to later be distilled, it almost certainly will be, if using as a mixer or to fortify likewise, if you are intending to use neat or to add an essence (as i am) you may wish to run it through a Vinbrite Filter in order to achieve an ultra clear end result.
Running through the Vinbrite Filter takes around 40 minutes but was well worth the extra filtration time and effort, i could see the residue that was left behind on the filter pad and i had completely removed the slight grey tinge from my Spirit Vodka.
Your Base Spirit is now ready to drink, either as it is or with a mixer or even better, flavour with an essence from the huge range by Prestige.
Many flavourings are available such as: Spiced Rum, Tequila, Marshmallow and Banana, Blueberry Vodka, Irish Cream, Curacao, Strawberry Fruity Shot, Melon, Chocolate and many more Vodkas, Whiskies and Fruity Shots.
To create one of these, partly fill a sterilised and rinsed 750ml glass bottle with your base Vodka to around 500ml and add the correct amount of sugar for your essence as instructed on the label (this varies greatly between each individual essence), then shake your 20ml of essence and add this, now shake to blend and dissolve the sugar, when the sugar is dissolved you can top up to 750ml, leave to settle and condition for 24 hours and your ready to drink.