Will I go blind?
I am not a doctor, or a lawyer or a candlestick maker, nor do I play one on TV, but I can tell you that you will most likely go blind only if you put lye in your wine and then manage to rub it in your eyes. Given the fact that lye in your wine is not recommended since it will most likely kill you I tend to think going blind is the least of your worries in that situation. The whole business of going blind has to do with distilling alcohol from beer and wine and wort, etc.
If you don’t know what you’re doing with a still you might “put your eye out” so to speak, but the simple act of making wine or beer as discussed in these pages is about as dangerous as taking a shower. Well, actually, I’ve heard of people dying from falling in the shower. I’ve never heard of anyone dying from making homebrew so maybe it’s quite a bit safer than even that. In either case, follow the simple directions given on the site, avoid getting wine, lye or sharp pointy sticks in your eyes and don’t muddle about with distilling until you have a bit more skill and you should be fine. When all else fails, ask a question of whom should know the answer like on our discussion board.
How much Yeast do I add?
In short? It doesn’t matter. Really. It honestly doesn’t. The whole point of home brewing is to allow the yeast to flourish and divide and multiply and make little yeast babies so they make more alcohol. So long as you have SOME yeast in there you should be good to go. Yeah, I know, those little packages say “makes 5 gallons”… well, those people want you to buy more yeast then don’t they? If you pay attention to my Yeast Need Culture video you’ll see that once you buy yeast once you really never have to buy it again. Don’t believe me? Do some research into sourdough making. Really good sourdough comes from a culture that’s kept living for years and years. When you started a new batch you just broke off a bit of the mother and worked it into the new bread. Same concept with cloning yeast. Just make sure some yeast get in there and you’re ok.
If I add more yeast will it go faster?
Well, maybe, but only to a point. You can’t add 5 gallons of yeast to one gallon of wine and have it done yesterday. It takes a little time. So long as you’re adding at least a teaspoon of either dried yeast or an active yeast culture to your batch it’ll get rolling on it’s own. Adding more yeast will likely only buy you a few hours in the grand scheme of things.
Will baker’s yeast work?
Yes Yes Yes, you can use baker’s yeast. It will work. In fact, bakers used to get their yeast for baking from the local brewers. These days though the yeast are much more specialized. Baker’s yeast is designed to make a lot of gas and as little alcohol as possible. Brewers yeast is focused on making alcohol and surviving in said alcohol. Yeast also have a large effect on flavor. Baking yeast will tend to make your batch taste like baked goods. If you’re going for a beer that tastes like fresh baked bread then that might be a good thing. The way I look at it is you need to use the right tool for the job. If you’ve got to build a new deck you can use a screwdriver or a hammer but a power drill or a nail gun would work a whole lot better, wouldn’t it? Spend the 75 cents to order the good yeast online and watch my Yeast Need Culture video so you never have to do it again. If you can’t afford the 75 cents, should you really be blowing your money on alcohol?
Will XYZ juice work?
If it’s a natural fruit juice it will 99.9% of the time work just fine. No worries. Heck, you can even ferment kool-aid as long as it has real sugar in it. Yeast need real sugar though, nothing with artificial sweetners will work.
My balloon (or condom) deflated and it’s only been 2-5 days. Is it done?
Yep, probably so. Yeast sometimes work fast and there probably wasn’t a lot of sugar in your juice. If your batch isn’t making enough pressure to keep the balloon deflated then it’s ready to drink. If you want to improve the flavor by clearing it with bentonite or freezing and thawing it now is the time to do it.
You will occasionally find “turbo yeast” that will make alcohol in like 48 hours. I honestly don’t think this turbo yeast is anything more than champaign yeast which is a very hearty and tenacious variety of yeast. Yes, it will some of the alcohol converted in 48 hours, but I guarantee it won’t be nearly as much as there would be if you give it at least a week to work. For best results I recommend giving your batch 30 days.
If I add more sugar will it make more alcohol / will it take longer?
Yes and Yes. By how much? that’s largely a function of time, sugar levels, temperature and type of yeast used. For new brewers the best way to see if a batch is finished fermenting is to wait for the bubbles to stop or the balloon (or condom) to go down. Experienced home brewers can use a hydrometer to test the wine’s sugar level.
What will my alcohol % be?
Buy and use a hydrometer. That’s really the only way to tell. I can give you a ballpark though. A finished beer is usually between 3 and 6% alcohol. A wine is usually between 7 and 14%. If you REALLY push it I understand you can get upwards of 20% alcohol from fermentation, but you better have some serious yeast, sugar and time on your hands.
Will this stuff get you $(@)%!ed up?
Yes, just like with any alcoholic beverage you buy it will get you drunk. While my personal philosophy is to stop drinking when everything is funny you’re a grown adult (hopefully) and your mileage may vary.